Like many gardeners, I want to grow flowers and vegetables as well as I can- without harming the environment. Slugs can be a problem, munching delicate seedlings overnight. So I’m trying biological controls this summer to see how effective they are.
My Nemaslug biological slug killer arrived with an ice pack to keep it cool. I’ll be able to re-use the ice pack. The polystyrene packaging will be recycled as a salad-growing container.
The package was kept in the bottom of the fridge until I had time to deal with it. Nematodes are microscopic living creatures that will survive for a limited amount of time if kept cool.
Nematodes are mixed in water and applied to moist soil. We had a period of drought, which made it difficult to use the product within its “use by” date. But finally we had rain, and I was able to get going.
The nematodes were mixed in a bucket containing 10 litres of water. This creates a stock solution. Next I added .5 litres of the stock to a 5 litre watering can of water. I paced out the vegetable plot and it took me about 20 minutes to water the whole area. The pack covered about 120sq yds. I had to go out and buy a coarse watering can rose as I didn’t have one in the potting shed. The stock solution has to be used in one session. It can’t be halved and saved for another day. So sufficient time is needed to read the instructions, measure everything out and distribute it.
Nematodes hunt down and attack slugs, releasing a bacteria that kills them. The nematodes then reproduce inside the dead slug and release a new generation to continue the work.
Here’s Grace sitting on the beds that were treated with nematodes. She’s “guarding” the broad beans against mouse attack.
Biological controls won’t harm plants, pets or any other creature. They are specific to the targeted pest.
I want to protect my potatoes, brassicas, salad and courgettes. I’m also growing sweetpeas and sunflowers. Apart from potatoes, all my plants are started off in the greenhouse and only planted out when they are a reasonable size to cope with being nibbled. Soft new growth is more attractive to slugs than tougher, older leaves.
Nematodes can only be used between March and October, when temperatures are between 5-30C. I applied my nematodes in the evening. And luckily after six weeks of drought, we had rain overnight. The nematodes need moist conditions to move through the soil to search for slugs.
On my plot , I try to garden as naturally as possible. I have an acre of woodland and wilderness where slugs are allowed to thrive and become food for birds and mammals. If I’m going to grow good food crops and cut flowers, I have to think of a way of controlling pests. Nematodes seem one way to do this without using chemicals. I’ll report back over the summer on the effectiveness of these treatments.
NOTE: I didn’t pay for this nematode pack. As always, my honest opinion is all that’s being sought. The pack sent to try out would cost between £25 and £28; however, there are various bulk buy options and special offers available. So the price is a guide line only. Less costly packs are available for smaller areas.
Have you tried nematodes? How did you fare with them in your garden? Do you think it made a difference? Please let me know, and kindly share this blog on any social media platform you use.