Slugs love beer – they can smell it from a long way away (in terms of slug ‘miles’). Not enough to get them to the pub, so the beer is being brought to them. Though drinking this won’t do them any good as it’s all in the cause of helping gardeners grow more flowers and veg and reducing waste.
From April 14th, Stroud Brewery’s organic beer slops will be available to gardeners in the Stroud area of Gloucestershire who want to control slug populations in a more natural way. The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and the Pesticide Action Network recommend using beer traps – glasses or containers like yoghurt pots sunk into the soil and filled with beer – as one of the non-chemical ways of reducing slug damage in the garden.
Now a new beer-wildlife partnership has formed to help gardeners make organic beer traps to reduce slug damage: Stroud Brewery and Wild Stroud, a community group helping people to garden with wildlife in mind, have teamed up to turn waste beer slops into organic slug control – as well as reducing waste and increasing recycling at the same time.
Beer slops is the term that describes the beer which is ‘pulled through’ the pipes to get rid of the previous beer when a barrel is changed and to start the new batch. This can amount to about two or three bucket-loads each barrel and is usually thrown down the drain. Also, any overflow or drips from filling a glass with beer from a pump are collected in trays underneath and this is thrown away. Plus, Bright Beer is fresh beer that’s only drinkable for a few days after which any unsold is – you’ve guessed it – thrown away.
Wild Stroud carried out an experiment last summer to discover which type of beer gives the best results. They filled traps with three types of beer: cheap lager, cheap beer, and beer slops from Stroud Brewery’s organic bright beer. The beer slops proved to be far and away the most effective with the greatest slug body count.
Starting on Friday 14th April, Stroud Brewery’s beer slops will be available to gardeners to use in their beer traps to control slug populations organically.
Gardeners will be able to collect the slops from Stroud Brewery and also fill their own containers from a location in Castle Street in Stroud. Anyone wanting to use these slops must register first on Wild Stroud’s website and also is asked to give a small donation to cover the costs of this voluntary group.
Slugs are an important part of the natural eco-system, as they’re food for many birds and animals. However, many gardeners don’t see them this way.
“There are about 12 species of slugs living in a garden but only 1 or 2 eat plants – which most gardeners don’t realise” said Chloe Cox of Wild Stroud.
She continued “I can understand how the frustration caused by slug damage leads to lots of gardeners just wanting to get rid of them all. But slug pellets are made from powerful artificial chemicals which stay in the slug even after it’s died, and this will kill birds and other animals if they then eat the slug. So, whilst we’d rather not kill slugs at all, by offering an organic natural control, we aim to protect more wildlife in the long term.”
Wild Stroud wants to help gardeners to use more natural methods and make their gardens more wildlife friendly. Using the beer slops will not only offer an organic way do this, it’ll also reduce waste.
Greg Pilley is delighted that Stroud Brewery’s beer slops will now be helping gardeners to be more organic: “When I set up the brewery, I was determined to brew beer organically so we could make our contribution to restoring and protecting wildlife. Organic farming is the most effective form of regenerative agriculture for doing that, and now with this project we can help gardeners look after wildlife, too. We’d just love to see everyone being wildlife friendly. Though eventually, we’d like to see gardeners tolerate slugs in their garden.”
The beer slops and slugs project will run to the end of July. By this time, most seedlings will have grown into plants so meaning slug control won’t be so necessary.
On May 20th and 21st, Wild Stroud is organising an Open Gardens weekend in Stroud with wildlife as the focus. Many gardeners who are creating space for wildlife will welcome the public into their gardens so they can get ideas and learn how they can be more wildlife-friendly, too. There’ll also be pond-dipping, micro-pond building demonstrations and a talk about how to move to no-dig gardening. For more information, visit https://wildstroud.org/open-gardens/.