The greatest enemy to tender young seeds is the slug; how disheartening to come out in the morning to notice that an entire row of emerging greens has been completely demolished overnight.
We have tried many deterrents over the years: our slugs don’t seem to go for beer or coffee grounds, they are clean-living vegetarians. As we’re growing food crops and maintain an army of wild birds we do not use chemicals. The slugs have proved too devious to be fooled by copper bands, they come up from the soil underneath instead. Our birds are too well fed to bother eating them. Some plants will help to deter them, such as garlic, mint or chives, and these can be planted among your vulnerable crops.
We occasionally use organic pellets with iron phosphate. A good tip from Gerry Daly of The Irish Garden, is to place the pellets under a stone where they do not look unsightly and where birds or pets cannot get them. Placing the pellets in a narrow jar on its side half buried in the soil will also work.
However, the best defence I have found is the hanging basket. The basket needs to be in the open and not overlooked by branches or other leaves that will provide access to slugs. We use free-standing metal holders as they can be placed anywhere in the garden. We usually place them at the edge of the vegetable raised beds. Here, baby lettuces, radishes and other small tender seeds can be brought to a safe size for planting out when they are big enough to cope.