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Seedlings wiped out

I sowed ~300 marigolds. Yesterday I had what looked like 100+ seedlings. Today I have only 4 or 5 remaining.

There is no sign that the others had ever existed.

My guess is a pest picked them off but nearby potatoes are relatively untouched. Are some slugs especially keen on marigolds?

Last edited: 31 May 2017 13:15:53

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  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336

    Yes, slugs love them and pigeons, too.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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  • [Glen][Glen] Posts: 64

    Thanks for highlighting pigeons. I am not sure what can be done about pigeons while still attracting smaller birds?

    Will now start trying to deter slugs using a mix of seaweed (for the salt) and tea leaves (for the caffein). According to the link below caffein is a slug neurotoxin, but doses of salt and caffein can kill plants also. 

    https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/food-thought/slugging-it-out-caffeine

    Apparently iron phosphate pellets are also toxic to humans, dogs and earthworms? I need a frog.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336

    Nemasys slug nematodes work great for getting the overall slug population down, but they aren't cheap and are not an 'instant kill'.  If you have the inclination, going out at night with a torch will catch an awful lot of them - they tend to return to the same area they fed the night before.  Another alternative is beer traps (jar buried in the ground half filled with beer) -  at least they die happy!

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • [Glen][Glen] Posts: 64

    Apparently slugs are not nomadic and their slime prevents their eggs hatching; such that the babies hatch when the adults do not return. By this measure, chucking caught slugs over the fence would not remove anything from the ecosystem, but could artificially accelerate slug reproduction rates.

    What can be done with captured slugs (dead or alive)? Some lucky person might cut their slugs with scissors to feed their chickens, and once the chicks have developed a taste they will take any whole adult slugs. Ducks do not need training. My garden is too small for captive birds, too small for roaming hedgehogs, and too small for a frog pond.

    I am low on options. How feasible is a bog and a toad? Would planting ornamental tussocks between other plants encourage predatory beetles?

    The best instant kill I found is placing rock salt on dry surfaces. I observed visiting slugs swallow whole cubes of salt and then later explode. The trouble is stopping the salt from polluting the soil.

  • Fishy65Fishy65 Posts: 2,270

    This is a perennial problem Glen and one with no clear answers. I've used salt around plants but as you say, this can leech into the soil and do more damage than slugs/snails. I've used the new 'wildlife friendly' pellets but our terrier was off colour for a few days after and I don't think it was coincidence. I've used beer traps but while these do catch some, plenty more slide on by and on to the plants. I've got a pond and a population of frogs but still plenty of slugs. And can frogs even eat the shells on large snails? As Bob says, going outside with torch and a bucket of salty water is the only way I think.

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    I can vouch for nematodes & lambs wool pellets sprinkled around as a mulch. I've also heard grit/gravel works well. 

  • [Glen][Glen] Posts: 64
    edited April 2018
    I read on another site that bran (and other expanding cereals) can burst slug stomachs.

    This failed to reproduce in my lab experiments. I can confirm that slugs enjoy eating bran, and they will eat until they are full - but I cannot confirm any ill-side effects in the slug.

    There are certain weeds that slugs avoid - do we know why? Might shoving the weeds in a blender, microwave, and spraying a solution on the garden have a positive effect?
  • Andy19Andy19 Posts: 671
    Homemade Garlic spray works great on slugs.
  • ThankthecatThankthecat North DevonPosts: 420
    My husband is a coffee machine service engineer and brings me home a big bucket of coffee grounds every week. A good circle around vulnerable plants (baby plants, or those the slugs seem to like) works well as long as there is no rain...
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