February Gardens Provide First Signs of Spring

By Mike Darcy

Editor’s Note: Mike Darcy, radio host of In the Garden with Mike Darcy, has long been a spokesperson for Meta®, an active ingredient in several safe-for-the-environment slug baits. He offers a few tips, including a video, on how to use the products effectively. We appreciate Meta’s sponsorship of the Yard, Garden & Patio Show.

Don’t forget to bait for slugs around planted
and potted flowers this sping.

It is early February and spring is almost here. I just came inside from taking a walk through my garden and what a pleasure it was to see Hellebores poking their flower buds through the soil. Some of them are in already in bloom and many are in bud so I expect a garden full of flowers soon. Hellebores are a favorite early spring flower because they bloom when not much else will while remaining relatively low maintenance. Simply choose a shady location. The plants will often naturalize, providing new flowers every year. As hybrids have been developed, they are now available in new colors, with single and double flowers. Some flowers even face upward as compared to the traditional hellebore flower that is downward facing.

If you want to learn more about new Hellebores hybrids, I’ll be at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show on Saturday, February 19, doing my ‘In the Garden’ radio show live from the Oregon Convention Center starting at 9 a.m. and there will be Hellebore flowers on display. To see some of the new colors and bloom types available, check out Northwest Garden Nursery and see the exciting Hellebore traits Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne have been breeding.

It was so nice to get outside and admire the budding plants while enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather. As I stopped at one large plant, I looked closely and found slug damage on the flowers! I had neglected to bait, and as we in the Pacific Northwest all know, no untreated garden is safe from slugs. Within minutes, I was in the garden applying a light dusting of Corry’s® with Meta® active ingredient. I prefer the meal formulation, which requires a very small amount of bait to provide an effective perimeter around my plants (liquid and pellet formulations are equally effective).

I helped create this video with tips on how best to use these safe slug bait products in your garden.

Along with Hellebores, primroses are another early season slug favorite. These colorful plants are in garden centers now and many of us will be planting them soon. Try some in a container by the front door or on a deck or patio for an instant pop of color. Don’t forget to apply bait around the newly planted primroses. And don’t think container plants are safe from slug attacks. Slugs are quite adept at climbing up the sides of pots, especially when they know a primrose meal awaits.

Remember, when using any garden products read the label and follow directions closely. Adding piles or heavy doses of bait is unnecessary and wasteful. A light dusting is sufficient and all that is needed to protect your plants.

Enjoy your spring garden…and use a safe bait to deter spring slug damage. To have a greater understanding of the habits of slugs, read this article authored by Mike Darcy.

Editor’s Note: If you bait for slugs, be sure to use a product that’s safe for your pets and family. The Meta active ingredient has been specifically developed as a molluscicide – meaning that it only targets snails and slugs, and does not harm beneficial organisms such as bees, earthworms and beetles. It also degrades into CO2 and H2O, which means it is environmentally friendly. An aversion agent is included to address accidental ingestion by children and to deter domestic or large animals from feeding on the bait.