Gardening Q&A:how do I save my sweet pea plants from snails and slugs?

The experts at the RHS answer your gardening questions...

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Question: I have planted out some small sweet pea plants but feel they might be decimated at any moment by snails. 

Last summer my sweet peas were hopeless because snails or slugs destroyed them and they never got going. 

What is the latest deterrent for them please? I have pets so don’t like using slug pellets.

Answer: Young sweet peas are indeed a favourite of slugs and snails. The best approach to control them is to use a mixture of techniques. 

Among these are placing scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, cut side down onto the soil to attract slugs and snails; check each day and empty them. 

Beer traps can be effective, but a much mnore ‘handsoff’ approach is to use nematodes - microscopic worms that are mied up with water and applied to well-drained, moist soil ( 

The nematodes infect the slugs with a bacteria. The advantage is not having to empty any traps of either dead or alive slugs!

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