Last year, I didn't get any of the sunflowers past the slugs. Not one. Thirty seedlings dwindled to twenty, which looked tall enough and tough enough to plant out, which I did. Within a week, every single seedling was stripped of leaves, snipped of shoots and shorn to the ground. The seeds in the ground never even got their heads out.
This week, I've taken a different approach. I planted more - over fifty - and of surviving forty-odd seedlings have been divided. Ten went out into the flowers beds (now reduced to two). Ten went into various planters and pots, seven (now four - or three once I accept the inevitable about #4, snipped off when it was four feet tall - in the greenhouse and three outside). The remaining twenty are putting on height and toughness in their growing-on pots, in a trug in the middle of the patio, theoretically far from the slugs, however, I've still lost five, six plants even though I am vigilant against the molluscs. And by vigilant, I mean murderous.
The first flower came yesterday, from one in the trug. It's saddeningly, maddeningly tiny. Three years ago, when the garden was still recovering from being concreted over, I grew a beautiful crop of sunflowers. But each passing year, as the garden matures, the slugs have become more hungry and brutal and dominant, as if the ecosystem I'm building up here has got stuck just before the predators came in.
But this year, I'm not going to crack and run for the slug pellets. I have a MUCH better idea.
This year I have established two small water planters, seeded with mosquito larvae, water fleas and water snails. And if you build it, they will come.