Seed Swaps

Slug deterrent experiment

28 Jan 2012
Cloudy 30°C / 86°F

Slugs and i seem to be in a never-ending battle for supremacy in the garden. Just when i think i’ve managed to get on top of them, i turn my back for a little while and they are back in force. I’ve come to realise that no one method is perfect, and that the “price of peace is eternal vigilance”.

One aspect of multi-pronged strategies i’ve used in the past has been copper tape, but when i decided to plant some tomato and sunflowers (plants which have both been ravaged by slugs in the past) in the small garden along the driveway, there was no obvious way to apply the tape to protect the whole garden bed. I’d nearly resigned myself to forgoing the copper this time and just relying on the slug traps with the yeast/sugar mixture, and the iron based snail pellets, as well as an occasional coffee spray, when i remembered that i had some spare PVC pipe in the garage, and that it might be worthwhile cutting some short lengths of it, wrapping the copper tape around it, and then placing it over where i’d sown the seeds. I would then plan to remove the pipe once the seedling had grown a bit and was less susceptible to slugs. Now it will have impacts other than just the presence of the copper (increased shade, decreased wind, possibly increased humidity, disruption to seedling/soil when removed etc), so it will be hard to say whether or not the copper is what makes any difference seen, but i thought it was worth a shot. I decided to try a pseudo-controlled experiment with the sunflowers, so i put the coppered PVC pipe over 4 of the sowings, but left the other 4 bare. There is two seeds in each spot, and i will thin as required later. For the 4 tomato spots, i used the pipes for all of them. Again, 2 seeds in each spot.

My initial impressions were positive, as it makes it very easy to identify where i have sown the seeds, and it also made it very easy to mulch around the tomatoes and put stakes in, because i could be confident i wasn’t going to cover up the seeds or hammer the stakes in the wrong spot. In the end i didn’t mulch the sunflowers because i had already lost track of the seeds i’d sown without the PVC pipe. I do also believe that the seedlings being a bit protected from direct sun and strong winds will be beneficial (i mean its not really that different to a cloche or other seedling protection devices), but i am wondering if a larger diameter pipe, and possibly shorter sections would be better, as then i could probably leave them in place for the life of the plant without the risk of damaging its stem, or increasing fungal diseases due to an increase in humidity around the base.

Anyway, time will tell!




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