Yes m’lud: I plead guilty to the violent massacre of numerous slugs and snails on Monday the 14th of the month; but in my defence I plead extreme self-defence and provocation. Seriously. We know to expect the occasional slug rampage and munch of bits and pieces; but not the wholesale demolition of entire crops. All this rain has meant ideal conditions for slugs in particular, who have been washed into the polytunnels and every nook and cranny that would normally stay dry and hostile to slugs. So my line of early French climbing beans now looks like a load of sad twigs; the Golden Detroit beetroot is just a desperate wiggle of minute yellow stumps; and the spinach and other beetroot seedlings have just disappeared completely. Cue swearing, more swearing, wheelhoeing the area and re-drilling.
I am planning to construct a pond nearby to encourage toads, frogs and other predators to the tunnel area, but that doesn’t help me now. All the carrots and parsnips in the field which I drilled last month before all the rain still haven’t appeared; they’ve most likely rotted, been washed away, or if they did germinate, slugs have razed the whole lot.
The blighters have also been at it in the module tunnel: greasing their way up the insides of the polytunnel plastic and parachuting down onto the trays below. Some trays of runner beans (15 pots to a tray) had up to 12 slugs hiding between the pots. I’d begun the season by picking them off and dropping them in the compost heap: either to find a happy new life there, or to be munched by blackbirds, I didn’t mind which as long as they stayed away. However, now it’s got to the stage where I pick and squish on the floor. Passers by must think I’m trying to teach myself some odd country dancing (maybe that’s why line dancing has all that stamping?). I’ve also ordered some Nemaslug; naturally occurring parasitic nematodes that enter the slugs body and kill it, while breeding more nematodes to kill more slugs (harmless to other wildlife). Meanwhile I’ve made some homemade beer traps sunk in the soil by the stricken French beans, now sown again, for a good way to go. This is war.