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Quarter of a century ago when we moved here slugs were a major problem, we never saw any snails.  Over the last 5 years or so snails have taken over and we rarely see slugs except in the compost bin where they are growing big and fat.  I have two questions which I am hoping fellow gardeners can help me with.
1. Is it true that the slugs in the compost bin pose no threat to my hostas etc. Or should I use slug bait to eradicate them?
2. Apart from snail safaris where I collect as many as I can and rehome them (to snail heaven) how do I eradicate them?
Thank you for reading, hope you have advice to share.


  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,787
    edited May 2018
    1 it depends how close your compost bin is to your hostas. They do travel to eat. And if you spread that compost near your hostas then the slug eggs in the compost will hatch and the baby slugs will have a feast. Having said all of which, it would be better to try to protect your hostas that to try to kill slugs pre-emptively. Lots of wildlife lives on slugs and if you kill them all your mollusc predators will move elsewhere.

    speaking of which

    2 the most successful strategy for dealing with snails is to encourage into your garden the wildlife that eats them. Especially song thrushes and hedgehogs but also robins (eat the little ones), starlings, corvids and blackbirds. Not killing all your slugs but allowing the wildlife to 'manage' them for you is a part of that. Look on the RSPB website for advice on encouraging the birds. There are threads on this site on encouraging hedgehogs. 
    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • EsspeeEsspee Posts: 272
    Thank you for your reply raisingirl.  I would love to have hedgehogs in the garden but I have never seen any in my area (city).  Unfortunately foxes thrive in the neighbourhood. I do have frogs and suspect they may be keeping the slug population down but the snails are totally out of control and so destructive.  I have been encouraging birds but that has somewhat backfired as feral pigeons have taken a liking to my roof and magpies and crows attracted to my garden are raiding smaller birds nests.
  • PurplerainPurplerain Posts: 1,022
    edited May 2018
    I feel privileged to be able to afford a garden on the edge of a city. The romantic image of hedgehogs and birds keeping down the snail population has never worked although I have tried my best without pellets over the years.

    Any gardener who nurses their plants or crops only to find them decimated overnight has to make a decision. That is to grow what YOU want to grow, or to only grow the things that slugs or snails don't touch.

    I now use pellets, first laid mid January and have continued on as necessary. Everything I want to grow is untouched and flourishing. Plants have a right to life too.

    SW Scotland
  • pbffpbff Posts: 433
    Hi @Esspee
    In answer to Q.1 - the slugs in the compost bin will be perfectly happy where they are and are unlikely to venture out to devour your Hostas. Slugs are in fact very important in the composting process, helping to break down the material. 
    In answer to Q.2. - slugs can be controlled using nematodes, although these are generally ineffective against snails.
    Barriers of copper tape around pots usually works fairly well, as does standing pots in wide saucers of water, which acts like a moat.
    Also sheep's wool pellets, which you use to create barriers around plants.

    To be honest, you will never, ever totally eradicate slugs and snails and I have found that it's a lot easier to go with nature than to fight her.
    Therefore, I have taken to growing mostly slug/snail-resistant plants.
    Any susceptible plants that I do grow, I tend to make sure are in containers up off the floor, e.g. in hanging baskets, shelves attached to the fence, little tables and stands, etc.
    Having said that I do have some Hostas planted in the ground and although they get a bit of damage, I'm alright with a few ragged leaves.

    Re: slug pellets, please don't use the nasty metaldehyde ones, which are dangerous to wildlife, pets and people alike.
    Ferric phosphate ones are available and approved for use in organic systems, however questions are now being raised over the safety of these, as it is believed that the EDTA in them may be causing toxicity problems.

    On a different note, I started the Snail Lover's Society here on the forum last year.
    If you'd like to join....  ;)

    All the best,
  • EsspeeEsspee Posts: 272
    Thank you Purplerain and Pbff.  I think I might have to encourage the squirrels to add escargot to their diet.  Overnight some especially lovely tulips have been dug up and partially devoured so clearly they have had most of their vegetable input for the day.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,787
    I feel privileged to be able to afford a garden on the edge of a city. The romantic image of hedgehogs and birds keeping down the snail population has never worked although I have tried my best without pellets over the years.

    It's not a romantic fiction, it does work if you can get the balance but it's certainly far more difficult in a small urban garden. Living with wildlife always has ups and downs. I lose plants to mice and voles every year, I've had huge sprouting broccoli plants reduced to stumps by caterpillars. I am in a permanent battle of wits with pigeons and pheasants and rats and deer and that's even before we get onto the subject of rabbits. It's a question of choosing one's battles. I find defensible perimeters are the best tactic, leaving some areas to fend for themselves against some predators on a sort of ring of steel basis. The veg plot is the inner sanctum replete with nets, nematodes, fences and regular night patrols. Then the borders have fences and regular dog patrols. The seating area has a gravel moat to defend the small number of pots. The bits beyond (I have a large garden) are basically wild with plants that mostly found their own way in and some trees and they fight their own corner well enough.

    I used to grow my hostas in metal pots. If you're careful about scrupulously clean soil based compost going in (i.e. no slug eggs) and if you get a pot with feet so not much of it is on the ground, it's very effective. They do grow smaller in pots than in open ground IME, but still look lovely.

    Sharp grit is also effective, so areas of crunchy gravel rather than paving slabs or grass surrounding where you have your tastiest plants.

    Chicken wire 'hats' on pots with tulips in them for another example. I can't grow tulips in the ground. They don't survive the winter uneaten. I don't plant peas and beans direct - I grow them on into quite big plants before I plant them out. It's a learning process and some years are much worse than others for one thing or another.

    I believe it's better to try to protect a few plants than to attempt to entirely eradicate the pests from your garden by widespread chemical warfare. There are lots of really beautiful plants that will grow well and strong enough to survive - you may have to experiment a bit

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • StevedaylillyStevedaylilly Posts: 998
    I must admit it's my first time using slug gel this year. Used it to deter slugs from eating Hosta's and Lobelia plants. The lobelia were only young plants as I was concerned that hey would be eaten alive but a single circl of gel around each plant plus a few pellets to kill them seems to have worked. I have no eaten leafs to any of these plants 
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