Q. How can we rid our beach garden of slaters? We laid plastic over the sand, put down shingle, then scattered shells and lime chips on top. But now we’re plagued with slaters.
A. Slaters like to congregate in damp areas, under bark or garden debris and in compost heaps. They usually feed on decaying vegetation, tree bark and rotting wood, but they occasionally nibble at young seedlings and root vegetables. While slaters occur in a wide range of habitats, they are much more abundant in lime-rich soils as they need lime to build their hard shells. Crushed shell is a natural source of calcium carbonate (the active ingredient in agricultural lime), and lime chips, while they break down extremely slowly, on first use will have a fine coating of lime dust, which will consequently wash into the soil. The best way to get rid of slaters is to remove their food source – any rotting plant matter that may be lying around – as well as possible hiding places, like old wood, bricks, leaf litter or rubbish.