I’ve been thinking recently about my soil and about the slugs. I am starting to think that the problem with my garden may not be so much about the slugs but about the soil. the above picture is of some Sweet William plants which I planted out in the autumn. Some have been eaten by slugs, but even those that haven’t have just sat there and put on very little growth. If the soil was more crumbly and ‘friable’ I can’t help thinking that the roots would have been able to grow further and take more nutrients from the soil. The larger healthier plants would have been less suceptible to slug attack.
As you can see above when I first planted the Sweet Williams the soil was much more crumbly (although the young plant was still pretty nibbled). Over the course of the winter though all of the tiny particles of clay have clumped together to make a dense, inpenetrable substrate with little space for air.
Ironically the benefits of adding a thick mulch to the soil seems to be outweighed by the hospitable home that it makes for slugs, allowing them to spend the day resting close to the unhappy plants that they spend their nights munching.
In the foreground you can see the deep bed in which the Sweet Williams are planted. They are to left. Adjacent to this plot you can see one in which I have worked lots of compost into the top few inches of soil and top dressed it with coir. I have planted my Red Duke garlic and sown mixed salads and greens. I am hoping that this more friable surface will allow the seedlings to ‘get away’ before they are completely annihilated before the resident moluscs. We shall see.