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  1. >**6. How can I get rid of slugs?**

    >**[Anne Swithinbank](**

    >You’ll never get rid of them, and in a way we shouldn’t try. These slimy molluscs may try the patience of gardeners, but their real job is to eat decaying vegetable matter. They are also the food of many birds and mammals (such as thrushes and hedgehogs).

    >Slugs are attracted to the soft tissue of seedlings and young plants, so after planting them out, I use slug pellets based on ferric phosphate. These only kill slugs and snails and are considered to be suitable for organic gardeners. Do follow instructions and space them evenly, about 15cm/6in apart. Or, make ‘slug pubs’ by sinking empty, cleaned margarine or yoghurt tubs into the ground. Leave the rim sticking out, as this will help stop slug-eating ground beetles from falling in. We don’t want to kill our allies. Then put enough beer in the tub to drown the slugs.

    >Some gardeners find barriers effective, as slugs and snails dislike crossing copper (which gives them a mild electric shock), bran, coarse bark or sharp little stone or shell pieces. These are the sorts of barriers you’d use to encircle vulnerable plants like delphiniums in spring.

    >Slugs that work underground and tunnel into your potatoes are a different challenge. This is where I’d use biological control, which of course also kills young, newly hatched slugs. You can send off for nematodes that are diluted into water and applied through a can with a generous rose (sprinkler) fitted on the end. These microscopic creatures enter and breed inside the slug, while introducing bacteria that infect and kill them.

    >Snails hide away by daytime and if one of your favourite plants is being stripped of leaves, look around under or behind nearby vegetation. You are likely to be able to pick up a whole colony of snails and solve the problem.

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