May VII: Drowning slugs in beer to save young plants…

Each May I wonder how well my plants will survive the return of slugs to the garden. I keep my plot clean and tidy, but I cannot force neighbours to do likewise. As a result, the north and eastern boundaries are jungles with trees and hedges, ivy and creepers. A ditch dug to create a space between the vegetable patch and the jungles does not always suffice.

However, this spring, trouble appears limited to the boundary beds near the hedges and two small beds closest to the jungles. The four main beds have seen no pest atacks in May, suggesting that the composting is creating better soil, my skills in creating healthy young plants are improving and the use of biodynamic calendars may also help.

Still, this May I started to see both ends of my 3 metre rows of early carrots being nibbled, starting in mid May. Half my peas were also decimated in what is called a gardening cock up: seeds failing to germinate in March meaning the second sowing was shaded out by rapidly growing broad beans in May. It is a stunning example of pests attacking shaded plants but not those in sunlight.

I therefore set up 5 beer traps last week, one in the pea bed and two each in the small beds (one at each end of the carrots, one near cabbage and one near broad beans.

In a week, I have murdered 40-50 slugs and the carrot munching has subsided and no further pea damage has occurred.

However, happily established cabbages suddenly fell foul to slugs as soon as the beer trap was set.

It is not therefore a guarantee of safety, rather one string to the bow in fighting slugs.