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Richard Cadey Richard Cadey | 14:24 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

Slugs were the subject of this week's regular Monday morning garden feature on MacAulay & Co. This has seen a novice gardener like me transform an abandoned patch of land behind my garage at the the far end of the garden into a a veritable market garden of organic veggie delights in a matter of months. Well that's the plan anyway, all under the watchful eye of professional gardener Craig Holland.

This week as I prepared to plant an assortment of salad leaves directly into the patch set aside for my failed attempts to grow rhubarb and garlic, Craig warned of the voracious appetites of slugs - every gardeners' (novice or hardy perennials alike) worst nightmare.

Now 'slugs' was also the slang term used to describe flying bullets in American gangster movies of the 30s and 40s, but it turns out that the shooting of the little blighters is definitely not recommended. There is seemingly an endless amount of advice of ridding yourself of the pesky slimy beasts, and they range from the practical - spreading sand or gravel around your plants to create a uncomfortable barrier, to the frankly bizarre. Bringing in a team of Morris dancers to perform a 17th century jig would probably fall into this category and although it may dissuade slugs from taking up residence it would no doubt make one heck of a mess of your veg patch, while simultaneously annoying your neighbours.

Beer trap

Beer Trap

Craig suggested a copper band for salad leaves grown in tubs. This apparently sends a small electrical current through hungry slugs which curbs their enthusiasm for lettuce etc. Fred suggested that in years to come this method may help slugs to evolve an ability to jump! Frankly, that's a world I don't want to live in! Slug pellets are another option, but not for cuddly tree-hugging organic gardeners like me and so we are left with the dreaded BEER TRAP! These can be bought or homemade, see the picture for my own attempt.

You bury a pint glass half-way down in the soil and place a suitable rainproof lid on it, in my case a ceramic teapot stand, and then simply pour in the beer and wait... Stout was recommended by Craig, but I went for cheapo supermarket bitter. Apparently, like students, slugs can't get enough of beer and although they do ultimately drown, they probably die happy and your left with lovely tasty salad intact, as well as a pint pot full of drowned slugs...Make mine a white wine spritzer barman...

Richard Cadey and a pint of beer

Listen to MacAulay and Co. 1030-1200, Monday to Friday on BBC Radio Scotland and for more outdoors gardening tips and advice listen in to Sunday's Beechgrove Potting Shed from 1205.


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