Gardening: Slug pellets banned in the UK from today – use beer traps and mulch instead

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Metaldehyde, a pesticide used to control slugs, is now officially banned for use in the UK. While slugs can cause significant damage to farmers’ crops and gardeners’ plants, the Government said pesticides containing ferric phosphate can provide effective control without carrying the same risks to wildlife as metaldehyde slug pellets. 

In September 2020, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis, said: “The scientific evidence is clear – the risks metaldehyde poses to the environment and to wildlife are too great.

“The Government is committed to building back greener from Coronavirus and the restrictions on the use of metaldehyde are another step towards building a cleaner and greener country for the next generation.”

Luckily, there are a number of other ways gardeners can keep slug infestations under control, including using beer.

Experts from horticultural charity Garden Organic said that slugs are attracted to lager.

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Traps should be checked regularly, removing dead slugs and refilling the beer.

According to the Government, alternative methods of pest control also include cultural techniques like planting slug resistant crop varieties, selectively timing irrigation and harvest, and sowing seeds more deeply into the soil.

Shannen Godwin, a gardening expert at one of the leading plant and bulb companies in the UK, J Parker’s, explained: “Slugs are actually active all year round.

“However, gardeners tend to notice slug activity during springtime. Slugs prefer the warm and damp weather that spring brings and thrive on all of the seedlings, bulbs and new growth on plants, which makes their damage most noticeable in spring.”

The expert recommended sowing backup seeds just in case a slug attacks on seedlings.

Slugs are particularly attracted to young plants.

The expert added: “Mulching is a fantastic way to protect plants from slugs, especially if you can create a sharp mulch barrier around plants. Sharp grit, ash and bark can help to ring fence your plants, and most slugs will not cross over the barrier.

“Wood pellets, cat litter and coffee grounds are other mulch materials you can try. However, remember that while this can prevent slugs on the surface, slugs bury underground so it won’t eliminate the risk entirely.”

According to the expert, there are many slug-resistant plants that gardeners can plant.

These are typically plants with strongly scented leaves or textured leaves.

Shannen said: “Some slug-resistant plants include roses, ferns, hydrangeas and grasses.

“It can also help to combine some slug-resistant plants alongside your seedlings, known as companion planting. 

“Aromatic herbs are usually great to plant next to your vegetables and seedlings. For example, mint and chives can be helpful for companion planting between rows of vegetables.”



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