Love That Slug by Andrew Mikolajski

For our monthly meeting in May we welcomed Andrew Mikolajski who is an expert gardening author, lecturer and speaker.  Andrew has contributed to several RHS reference works, he also runs a series of courses on garden design.

Andrew gave us a very entertaining and witty presentation on the copious variety of pests all too ready to attack our gardens, and ways in which to deal with them.  What follows is a summary of some of the points covered.



Regarding slugs, it was interesting and surprising to hear that some are not as bad as they seem.  The large brown one, the Dusky slug can actually help.  In late Summer to early Autumn it tends to feed on rotting vegetation clearing up pest eggs as it goes.  We were advised that the small black slugs are indeed a pest and have no redeeming qualities for the gardener.  Slugs are breeding underground during the Winter so it is wise to start early say in February to deal with them.  Sprays used in April/May will kill slug larvae as they emerge.

A few tips for dealing with slugs are:

  1. Place a small jam jar on its side near a plant you wish to protect and put about 4 slug pellets in it.  The jar will fill with slugs and the plant has a better outcome.
  2. Slug Gone tends to work well when sprinkled round plants.
  3. Copper tape placed round a plant pot rim.
  4. Copper wire placed over a plant pot hole
  5. A wide saucer below a pot to create a decent sized moat as slugs do not swim.

There were some other pests brought to our attention during the presentation.

The Oak Processionary Moth has been in the news quite recently and is very nasty.  The caterpillars of this moth can cause skin irritation and asthma.  Currently they are confined to the London areas, if spotted should be reported to the Forrestry Commission.

Xylella Fastidiosum is a form of bacterium which affects many of our common garden plants such as lavender, rosemary, cherries etc.  This bacteria is easily spread by leaf hoppers and froghoppers.

Another particularly bad one is the Berberis Sawfly larvae.  The larvae are up to 18mm long creamy white with black spots and yellow blotches.  If seen we should contact the RHS as they are tracking the movement of this pest throughout the UK.

Physiological problems

These are problems such as balling on a rose bud, here there will have been a cold snap after the initial bloom but therefore no pollination.  The answer here is to remove the head and ideally burn it.  Gumming is a common issue on many plants, especially the prunus.  Gumming is mostly caused by stress on the plant, and stress is nearly always due to a lack of water.  Water well and mulch is the key rule.

Tips for weeds

Use a weed killer mid May when there is the largest leaf area, tread on weeds first to break them for the killer to be most effective.

Thank you very much to Andrew for a very informative and enjoyable presentation.  For further information Andrew can be contacted as below:

20 West Street, Long Buckby, Northants.  NN6 7QE

Telephone 01327 843419         Mobile  0756 2212514