Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

On the Trail of Snails; THE MOLLUSCS ARE COMING... SO PREPARE TO FIGHT THEM OFF WITH AN ECO-FRIENDLY ARMOURY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

On the Trail of Snails; THE MOLLUSCS ARE COMING... SO PREPARE TO FIGHT THEM OFF WITH AN ECO-FRIENDLY ARMOURY

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With Diarmuid Gavin

SPRING is in the air and gardeners are busy sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings, bedding, vegetables and herbaceous plants. But lurking in the long grass is a silent army of creatures, each of whom have up to 27,000 teeth and are waiting to pounce on any fresh green vegetation, with lettuce and hosta top of the menu. I am of course talking about slugs and snails.

So it's timely to look at methods to protect your crops and flowers - there's nothing as disheartening as to find your sweet pea seedlings decimated, the only clue being a telltale glistening trail left behind by the molluscs.

But before you march out to wage chemical warfare against these munchers by spraying toxic pellets around your garden, let's remember their value in the ecosystem.

They do a valuable job when they digest rotting vegetation and they are food for hedgehogs, frogs and toads, and birds such as the thrush.

When you poison a snail, you are also introducing poison to the wildlife food chain.

So let's look at the eco-friendly methods: | BEER traps - sink plastic containers such as old yoghurt cartons into the ground and fill with beer.

Ensure a lip of 2cm of the container is above ground which will stop beneficial beetles being lured in for a drop.

| ORGANIC pellets based on iron phosphate are more environmentally friendly than the traditional metaldehyde pellets.

They won't kill other animals and if they're not eaten they will be broken down and turned into naturally occurring iron and phosphate. | MAKE their passage difficult to your plants with barriers they find tough to navigate.

For example, if you have been pruning roses, these thorny clippings make good barriers and can be removed when the plants have toughened up a bit.

You can also use wood ash, grit, crushed egg shells, bark or even cadge used coffee grounds from a friendly barista. …

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