Our wet summer in Britain has led to increases in slug and snail populations. We British (or was it the English?) have been called ‘a nation of gardeners’ as well as one or two less flattering descriptions. It’s true: gardens thrive in our wonderful landscapes. But as the Independent’s article points out, when the slugs and snails breed as they’re breeding this summer, we amateur gardeners lose terribly. As I’ve said before, I feel blessed that my allotment isn’t my livelihood. I’m not envying market gardeners their jobs this year.
With so many amateur gardeners, of course there are a lot – a *lot* – of garden centres and other retailers of gardening stuff. Online retailers, mail order catalogues, all kinds of garden porn. The Independent article reports increases in the sales of slug pellets this year. I want to research the issue of poisoning to species that prey on slugs. It’s sometimes alleged that those of us who use the blue slug pellets are killing hedgehogs. Yes, I use blue (metaldehyde) slug pellets. The ones approved for organic gardeners are pretty useless in my experience, except as tasty snacks for woodpigeons and magpies. Is it really true that people like me are killing Mrs Tiggywinkle and Mr Toad?
I hope to come back to this story but meanwhile I notice that the Independent article mentions two invasive slug species, Arion vulgaris and A. flagellu. Another thing I’d like to research more. How did these species get here from their native Spain and when did it happen? I’ve already observed that the gardeners I know who have little trouble with slugs are those whose soils are sandier than mine. Yet the organic gardening books and magazines continue to tell us that we can solve the whole problem with beer traps.