It’s a tie so far; the Iberia snails (also called Spanish slugs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_slug) in our garden have decimated three of the six different vegetable plants that were planted in mid-May. I prefer to call them slugs. I planted corn, pumpkin, sugar peas, broccoli, spinach and cauliflower; the slugs have eaten the last three. The first three remain untouched, at least for now, but you never know. The weather situation here in Oslo during the past two weeks has not helped the situation any. It has rained steadily for a few hours each day; the humidity, cooler temperatures and moisture bring out the slugs in droves. I never thought I’d say this, but—the slugs have to go. Otherwise it will be slugs 6 and the garden 0, at least where the vegetables are concerned. Now I understand why farmers despair when it comes to weather and insects; they invest so much time and hard work in getting their farms to grow, and rain or drought or grasshoppers or other insects can destroy them in no time. As I said, I can understand it without really having to worry about it, because we are not farmers and our livelihood does not depend on the success or failure of what we grow.
But I’ve learned a lot already about what to plant, and that was the point of my being overly-ambitious in terms of what I planted this year. I wanted to see what would do well and what would not. Next year, I will NOT be planting broccoli, spinach and cauliflower. I will plant more corn and more pumpkin if they end up doing well and are not disturbed by the snails. I’ve bought a slug-fighting chemical substance called Ferramol that consists of iron phosphate crystals; you spread it around the garden and the slugs eat it and over the next few days, lose their appetite for food and die. The entire community garden has recommended its use in each allotment, so it’s just to try it and see what happens. I’ve also learned that the slugs like the compost bins and heaps, so it’s best not to have too much compost. We have enough at present. I had tossed the dead spinach plants on the top of the compost heap; wouldn’t you know that the next day, the slugs were there on top of them, happy to be eating the dead spinach leaves. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. So I did what I needed to do, and removed all the dead vegetable plants and the slugs simultaneously. The slugs do not seem to want to be bothered with the strawberry patch (not overly-so at least), nor do they like raspberries or red currants, apparently. And they leave all of the different types of flowers alone (lavender, petunias, pansies, etc.).
The Turkish ladies who have the allotment garden above us have planted a lot of different kinds of salad plants and beans. The slugs love the former, so their salad gardens always seem to be frequented by them. It makes it easier to remove them physically, but it must be frustrating for them as well to watch their patches be decimated by these little creatures.
I’m including a photo of an Iberia slug (photo taken by CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=258591), so that you get an idea of what they look like. Keep in mind these creatures can lay up to 400 eggs a year. That gives you an idea of the immensity of the problem. They are considered an invasive pest and a major agricultural threat in many European countries at present. If you want an organic vegetable garden, you must be willing to invest time each day to pick up slugs from your garden. Otherwise, you can just plant flowers and berry bushes, and trim the grass every so often. It’s easier and who knows, perhaps more rewarding. Because it’s sad to watch these beautiful vegetable plants die due to slugs and to the stresses caused by their presence. The plants are stationary and cannot move away from them, whereas the slugs are mobile and can travel the length of a garden in no time. If it's possible to get rid of them using Ferramol, which does not affect earthworms or birds, I'm all for it.