the clear winner in slug prevention is the copper band. They are expensive but they last for years around a plastic or ceramic pot (they don't stick well to wood), so now I am going to plant some more climbing french beans in a large pot with copper tape around and woe betide any slug that gets past that!!
If you're keen to experiment, here are some suggestions for home-made slug damage limitation:
- coffee grounds in a thick circle round vulnerable plants
- bran applied the same way - the idea is that they get so full on the bran that they leave your plants alone... although I'm not sure about that one
- beer traps - half bury a jam jar half full of beer. Don't put it level with the soil or you will catch other things as well like beetles which are our friends! The slugs drink themselves to death.
- put a plank of wood or a brick down near vulnerable plants and check it underneath frequently to catch the little blighters napping. Dispose of them as you see fit.
- spray plants with garlic 'tea' and / or chilli powder
Try a mixture of the above and be vigilant! Do not be tempted by 'normal' slug pellets as poisoned slugs could still be eaten by birds and hedgehogs which will in turn be poisoned if they eat enough. The Garden Organic and Harrod Horticultural websites have more ideas but they cost money.
Another near-disaster that occurred last year was in the greenhouse and involved those yellow sticky paper traps which are designed to catch whitefly. Of course they stick to anything! In my case it was a bluetit which had flown in through the open door and caught itself on the sticky trap. It was a good thing I found it fairly quickly. It lost a few feathers in the process of unpeeling, but it flew off so I hope it was OK. I have now put netting across the door gap.
Last but not least, feed tomatoes weekly and mulch - grass clippings work fine.
The Food Festival on May 17th was a great success and we had a lot of interest at our Growers' Market stall. It was lovely to involve the children in planting beans to take home. We used re-cycled containers like loo rolls in plastic boxes and used paper coffee cups. Who needs to buy plastic plant-pots?!! It's so much easier to plant out beans grown this way as the roots don't get tangled up and the cardboard just adds compost to the soil. We sold most of the tomato plants but there will be plenty of peppers and some chillis at the next market. I look forward to seeing you there.