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Chris Packham: be tolerant towards slugs

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Slug Arion ater group Picture RHSAndrew Halstead web
Slug (Arion ater group). Picture; RHS/Andrew Halstead

Springwatch presenter’s Radio Times magazine interview

This may not go down too well with lovers of hostas and strawberries, but TV presenter Chris Packham has urged gardeners to “put yourself in the mind of the slug” and become tolerant towards the creatures.

The Springwatch host urged people to stop killing the garden pests in an interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine. “The slug’s been offered a free banquet. You have to expect it to eat it.

He said: “The slug’s been offered a free banquet. You have to expect it to eat it. If you’re planting a row of lettuces, you’re planting a free supermarket for molluscs.

“If you turned up at Sainsbury’s and they said, ‘And everything today is free’ you’d fill your basket, wouldn’t you?

“That’s what humans would do. So put yourself in the mind of the slug. You have to find a degree of tolerance, find ways of managing slugs without killing them.”

Chris Packham
Chris Packham – looking at the bigger picture ecologically

Chris, appearing at this week’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, said that gardeners were also harming hedgehogs and song thrushes by clamping down on slugs.

He added: “If you make draconian choices like ‘I don’t want slugs and snails to eat my plants’, then you’re doing yourself out of hedgehogs, slow worms, and song thrushes and that’s a tragic loss to the garden.

“The song of the thrush is the closest you’re going to get to a nightingale in the 21st-century British garden.

“Gardens are an important environment for many animals and birds now because of the problems with the wider countryside. You don’t get intensely farmed gardens. There’s an enormous abundance of animals.”

Of course, products like Grazers G2 sprayed on the leaves deters slugs and snails, strengthens plants and leaves them unharmed as a food source – http://www.grazers.co.uk/products/gardens-allotments/g2-slugs-snails/

He added that gardeners should cut holes in their fences to let hedgehogs walk through safely, build a pond and have a compost heap – but a messy garden was not always best for wildlife.

“If you just let your garden go it doesn’t top the list in terms of diversity,” he said. “I put a lot of effort into my garden. I actively plant in my garden. I have nectar from the very beginning to the end of the year.”

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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