The letters G I Y spelt out in lettuce in two different colours, the i is shaped like a garden fork and the y is a seedling. Photo taken a few years ago in Bloom.
Tag Archives: lettuce
Letters in lettuce, the GIY logo planted by volunteers, Bloom 2012
Slugs are many gardeners and veg growers number one pest. They cause a considerable amount of damage to many plants and are seen in every garden. I made a presentation on slugs for college and I found a lot of information on this site, www.slugoff.co.uk. Slugs evolved from snails, losing their shell so they need to conserve moisture by hiding underground or in moist shady areas. This summer has been wet which is good weather for slugs. They are mainly nocturnal, so organic slug control often involves night time torch inspections of crops to catch them. They are hermaphrodites and have both male and female reproductive organs so they all lay eggs. Many species of slug are not pests of crops or garden plants and some slugs eat other slugs, though pest species will cause plenty of damage to vulnerable plants.
Some of the main pest species of crops in Ireland are as follows:
Arion ater, the Black Slug
Arion hortensis, the Garden Slug
Deroceras reticulatum, the Field Slug
Tandonia budapestensis, the Keel Slug
Slugs damage fruits, flowers, stems, tubers and leaves by eating large ragged holes in plant tissue and leaving trails of slime over everything they touch. They prefer softer plant tissue and so they often target tender young seedlings though dead and decaying tissue (compost material) is also often eaten. Some of their favourite targets in my garden are lettuce, strawberries, potato plants, dahlias, and daylilies. They also eat new shoots on almost any plant.
Control of slugs can be difficult, the traditional garden method is with bright blue slug pellets containing metaldehyde. These pellets can also be toxic to other animals and to people so they must be used with care. Organic pellets are advertised as being safe to use around children, pets and wildlife. The active ingredient in these pellets is iron phosphate which affects calcium protection in slugs and causes them to stop eating and die within a few days. A biological control using nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) is available but expensive and it will need to be reapplied every six weeks. Drowning slugs in beer held in sunken containers is a popular but indiscriminate method which can trap other garden micro-wildlife. Good garden hygiene is important, for example remove possible hiding places such as dead leaves.
I have used various barrier methods myself. Copper tape is effective on pots although not always attractive (depends on the pot), and slugs can sometimes avoid touching it by using hanging vegetation to climb over or going up through the pot via the drainage holes. I have also used crushed eggshell stuck to Vaseline on the rims of pots which seemed to work but got very dirty and was difficult to clean off after I’d finished with it. I have seen an organic barrier product in the shops based on wool which I might try for open ground and pots that I don’t want to circle with copper tape. Another useful trick is sacrificial plants beside the crop to be protected. I put a few lettuce in with my potatoes which were suffering this year and this looks like it’s helping, the new growth on the potato plants is less damaged although the lettuce has been eaten back to ground level.
I am soft-hearted when it comes to disposal and I find it hard to kill the slugs I remove from my precious plants. I have been putting many of them into my compost bins where I hope the soft kitten scraps and decomposing plant matter is to their taste. I would like to keep some ducks in the future after I have finished college. They are supposed to be an excellent method of disposing of slugs, make great pets and have the bonus of providing eggs.