How Do I Stop Slugs From Eating My Plants?

Slug on leafIf you are a gardener, landscaper, allotment owner or botanist you will be fully aware of the problems slugs cause. They not only chew up your beautiful fruit and veg, they lay eggs and create horrible slime trails. Luckily there are a number of solutions to the problem; whether it be natural or chemical there is always a way.

There are a large variety of slugs in the UK, of varying shapes and colours. Species include the Common Garden, Ash-Grey, Lemon, Shelled slug and many more. In most cases gardeners and allotment owners will not be interested in the variety, but how much damage each particular one does, they will only have a goal of keeping them away from their crops and therefore that is what I will concentrate on. There are a wide range of natural and chemical deterrents and methods to deal with the problem; I will explore a few of these and allow the reader to decide which is more suitable for them.

 Natural

 Chuckem’– Seeking them out in the garden and disposing of them by hand is your first option. It may be a little time consuming, but it works. This is obviously provided that you have ample time and willpower. Make sure you take the pests as far away as possible from your and other people’s gardens. This method makes sure none of them die, if that is a concern. (Leaving left over fruit and veg on a tray in the garden is a great way to catch them, leave it overnight and discard the slugs that are sitting on it in the morning.)

SaltPouring salt on them will help to dry them out. Once again, most of the work will be done by searching out the slugs to apply the salt.

Cornmeal – Putting some cornmeal into a jar and tipping it on its side is a natural trap. Leaving it in the garden, near to the crops you wish to protect, will lure the slugs in. The cornmeal is too strong for them and it will kill them eventually.

BeerCreating a beer trap is also very effective. Leave a glass of half water half beer sunken into the ground at floor level. This will give off a sweet smell and work as a trap.

 

Frogs – If you have a pond, plant your crops near it. The reason for this is that frogs are a natural predator and will do the work for you. This has proven a brilliant way of using the ecosystem as natural plant protection.

Copper Tape – This is one of my favourite ways of creating a deterrent. If put around flower pots and stuck to the floor or other surfaces it will create a defensive barrier. Once a slug touches it the reaction causes a nasty shock which keeps it away from you plants. This is a safe way to stop your crops getting eaten.

 

 ChemicalSlug Gel

Pellets These are a very popular and easy way of helping to solve the problem. Sprinkling them around the area of fruit and veg you wish to protect will cause any passing slug to ingest them and kill them. Please make sure the variety you use is safe for your garden.

GelThis creates a barrier around your garden, pots etc….. The gel creates a defensive border, keeping pests away from your lettuce, carrots and other plants.

You are able to get some of these pellets and gels made with organic ingredients so they are not so harmful to have around the yard.

If there are any further tips and hints you have then please let everyone know below in the comments box.

 

 

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Keeping Birds Off and Away From Your Balcony

Many people in apartments and flats enjoy their balcony, whether it be for al fresco dining, growing plants, a seating area and more. The last thing that you want is debris and droppings caused by birds spoiling all of your hard work. Pigeons, amongst other birds, are the most common threat to the cleanliness of your balcony and therefore a solution is almost necessary if you want an area to grow plants or have your lunch.

The most humane and economical method of prevention is netting; some forms are almost undetectable when looking out at the vista, yet strong enough to keep out a range of creatures. You can the preventative measures against destruction to your property, without allowing the aesthetics to be compromised. You will need a decent quality net and a mesh size suitable to you needs; the smaller the size of the animals you want to keep out, the smaller the size of the hole (standard is around 10mm x 10mm for keeping out most birds)

You will mostly find that net comes in either extruded or knotted/knitted. The extruded netting is usually of polyethylene construction and is the weaker of the two. It is still expected to last a number of seasons if treated correctly, but will deteriorate more quickly than some other forms of netting. The knotted style is stronger because it is built with multiple strands, creating a weave that increases the tensile strength

In terms of installation you have a range of options; most of them can be altered depending on the size, shape and contours of your balcony. The first is to build or adapt a frame; starting from scratch you can use timber or perhaps steel poles to create a structure that fits on top of your balcony. There are also items such as crop cages and garden frames which you may be able to change in order to fit your needs. With steel frames the poles will fit through the mesh holes to secure it; for wood you can staple, cable tie or nail it on.
You can also attach the netting to the building itself. I will include some pictures of this below:

balcony

Bird netting on balcony

How To Create Weed Free Borders With The Help Of A Membrane

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Although we all enjoy a spot of gardening once in a while, no one can be under any illusion that weeding flowerbeds is a boring and laborious task. We all dream of a beautiful, easy to maintain garden that we can simply enjoy, rather than slave over for hours on our hard earned weekends. It is very possible that the secret to this is not maintenance, but preparation. It’s very easy to buy a huge bottle of weed killer and declare war on those perennials, but easier to prevent their growth from square one.

Although this technique can be adapted for any area of your garden, let’s look at creating borders in particular. The first step is removal of any existing unwanted vegetation. There are many ways you can do this. The easiest method may seem a weedkiller, and to some extent it is. However results from most common garden weedkillers may take several weeks to appear. So if you’re on a tight schedule, then manual removal of the weeds is the best option.

The next step is the most crucial in ensuring your garden is as low maintenance as possible. Purchase a good quality weed control membrane. If it’s simply for a border or flowerbed, then a mulch landscape fabric will suffice. However, a heavier duty fabric can be used for other areas (under turf, pathways etc). Landscape fabric is a ‘spun-bonded’ membrane that prevents sunlight from reaching weeds, whilst still allowing water and nutrients to filter through to keep the soil fertile. Normally black or grey in colour, it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing sight. So you may choose to cover it with a layer of mulch, gravel, or bark chippings. This has the extra benefit of improving its weed controlling capabilities.

Ensure the landscape weed fabric is situated across the full area of the border, and securely fastened with fixing pegs appropriate for the ground conditions. In order to place your desired plants in the border, simply cut a small cross in the relevant position on the garden ground cover, and plant away. You may wish to secure the fabric around the planting site with more ground pegs.

The rest of the process is entirely up to you! A great tip is to try and factor in some evergreen vegetation to keep your border looking colourful all year round, and ensure that any ‘aggressive’ plants are kept trim all year round to allow all of your flowers to flourish. Don’t forget to invest in good quality slug and bug repellents so no pesky critters use your flowerbed as a restaurant.

Pond Netting; Why It Is Necessary & How To Use

Pond netting is a useful product to have as it helps to protect your fish and other wildlife from debris and contaminates. Usually coming in extruded and knotted/knitted form; the smaller the mesh size, the better protection you will receive. Net will stop items such as leaves, stones, branches and other natural debris from entering the pond. Birds and other animals will be kept away from your fish, leaving you with the peace of mind that they will not be harmed.

Installing is a simple process, but one that is specific to each pond. If you so wish, you can create a frame for the netting to sit on if there is nothing to hang it from. The netting should be hung over the pond around six to nine inches above the water and secured by pegs, preferably steel ones.

Make sure that you build an area for access to the pond, most of the time access will be unnecessary but for the times it is then it will be useful. You can go on feeding and not have to take the netting down.

Extruded netting tends to be more economical and does not last as long as knitted netting.

20mm x 20mm is usually the bench mark in terms of pond & bird nets.

 

How To Keep Deer Away From Your Property & Garden.

roe-deer_1748031cDeer can be either a wonderful site or a complete menace. They can cause damage to gardens and can be a general nuisance. Luckily there are a few humane and safe ways to keep them away. Following some, or all, of these methods can deter these animals with minimal work involved.

  1. The first, and possibly most obvious, is to build a fence around the area you would like protect. You can either buy ready-made fencing or you can build it yourself. Specialised deer netting is available and with just a few poles can be put up to stop any unwanted guests. The barrier that you create will be safe for the animals and it means you do not need to take aggressive measures.
  2. Deer repellent sprays and gels are easy to get hold of and very effective.  Spraying the affected area will help to keep away all manner of animals, not just Bambi.
  3. It is common knowledge that they do not like movement, noise or flashing lights. Something like a wind chime or and garden ornaments driven by wind will unnerve many animals and prevent them from coming onto your property.
  4. There are a few plants that Deer don’t eat; growing these will mean that they will be less attracted to graze on your land. You can find a link to these types of plants below.
  5. Family pets are useful at keeping away many types of animals. Pets are usually quite territorial when it comes to their home and this can help when having problems with Deer. Dogs are ideal.
  6.  Do not do anything that would encourage wild animals to enter your garden. Feeding animals will mean that they will keep coming back time after time.

A lot of these methods can be applied to mammals like cats, dogs and foxes. There are a plethora of excellent sprays, gels and puffers built to for this purpose. It is worth doing some research into the effects of the spray and whether they are safe for certain plants. The fencing is not only suitable for keeping deer out but also in. If you wish to keep them within a contained area then it can work both ways.

It is all very well growing plants that aren’t appetising to deer, make sure that you do not grow too much that are. Fruit plants and anything high in protein are often very tempting to animals.

Please find the list of plants mentioned above here