Tired of watching slugs feast on your vegetable garden? Here are a few tips on ways you can stop them from eating all of your vegetables before you do!
Make a cornmeal trap. Put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and lay it on its side wherever there is slug activity. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, but the texture of the meal is too harsh and will kill them. Leave the jar out overnight or for several hours; when you spot the slugs in the jar, you can dispose of them permanently to remove them from your garden.
Try making a beer trap. Strange as it sounds, slugs are extremely attracted beer, even the low-quality stuff. Dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. Repeat this process until you’ve removed the majority of the slugs.
Use a fruit trap. Slugs are naturally attracted to fruits and the plants in your garden, so use that attraction to your advantage to trap them. Place a board out near where the slugs have been eating your plants, and put half of an orange or a few slices of cabbage (slug favorites) in the center. Leave the board out overnight, and in the morning the slugs should be covering the morsels of food you left on the board. Simply toss the slugs in the trash or kill them in another means and put the trap back in your garden.
Make a pet food trap. Another strange attraction for slugs is that of cat food or dog food. The pet food won’t kill them, but it will lure them into a confined area which makes them easier to dispose of. Grab a tin (disposable) pie pan, and cut out little ‘doors’ from the metal rim. Place the tin upside down in your garden so that the slugs have access to the ‘doors’, and put some dry dog or cat food underneath. After several hours, you should be able to find multiple snails making refuge under the tin. Scoop them up and toss them out, and then re-set the trap for the next batch of unsuspecting gastropods.
Try a honey and yeast trap. The same concept as the beer trap, slugs are highly attracted to the combination of honey and yeast. Boil a cup of water with equal parts of honey and yeast (the proportions don’t really matter), and then allow the mixture to cool. Dig a hole in your garden near where the slugs are the worst, and bury a cup or bowl with steep sides up to the rim. Fill the container about 80% of the way with your honey yeast mixture, and allow it to set overnight. By the morning, the container should be bull of drowned slugs. Dump these out and repeat the process.
Use salt. Spread salt on the surface where they are crawling around and they will dry up. However, if you plan to use the soil to grow plants in, salt can very easily ruin the soil for plants. Use this around the base of potted plants on a porch, or place a barrier on the soil prior to spreading the salt in order to protect the integrity of the soil.
Try coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are great to use in your garden, because they can increase the acidity of your soil (beneficial for plants who like soil with an acidic pH, like roses), and they keep slugs away. Create a barrier of thick coffee grounds around the edges of your garden; the rough granules will tear up any slugs who try to cross over it.
Crush up some egg shells. Similar to coffee grounds, crushed egg shells work wonders on blocking out slugs with their sharp edges. Once you’ve used an egg, rinse out the shell and let it dry. Collect a bunch, and then crush them up and sprinkle them in a barrier around your garden. The slugs won’t attempt climbing in, because the sharp shells will cut them up if they try.
Make a copper strip barrier. It isn’t known entirely why copper works so well to deter slugs, it’s theorized that the copper reacts electrostatically with the slug or snail slime. Regardless, it does work. Purchase strips of copper wide enough that the slugs can’t bridge it with their bodies. Place these in a barricade around your plants. While these are expensive, they are also a good alternative for protecting small areas or individual plants; try gluing them to the edges of your pots to keep out the slugs.
Use some diatomaceous earth. This is often used to ward off pests of varying species, and is made from crushed up fossilized sea shells. Following the included directions (it can be harmful if inhaled), pour the sharp dust around your garden beds. Keep in mind that this will only work when dry, and must be replaced if gotten wet.
Use a bit of sand. A cheap option for your garden, pouring sand on top of the soil will provide a rough barrier that slugs can’t tolerate sliding over. Pour the sand thickly around your plants, being careful not to mix it in. This will work wet or dry, and can be replenished when necessary.
Plant other plants that deter slugs. Certain plants push slugs away from them, either because the slugs hate the texture or taste of the plants. Plants like swiss chard, ginger, garlic, chives, mint, red cabbage, chicory, foxglove, and red bush (rooibos) will keep your garden clear of slugs. Plant these in a barrier around the entirety of your garden, or keep them around each individual plant. You can also choose to mix the leaves of these plants into the soil as a type of mulch, as well.
Create a pine-needle mulch. Dried out pine needles are like sharp little slug daggers, and will stab the slugs who try to pass over them. Collect the pine needles from the trees in your yard after they fall, or visit a local gardening center to pick some up. Spread these in a thick blanket around your plants to keep out the slugs. Keep in mind that pine needles are highly acidic, so you may have to mix some lime into the soil to balance it out.
Make a seaweed barrier. If you're not up for adding salt directly to your garden, try adding salt-soaked plants instead. Add seaweed around your plants in a defensive mulch wall; the salt in the plants will kill any slugs that try to pass by, without harming your current plants or ruining the soil. You can use fresh seaweed gathered off the beach, or dried seaweed used for cooking from the grocery store.
Add some ground beetles. Ground beetles are a natural predator of slugs, and are particularly good for killing off the eggs and young slugs that have not yet developed into the full-body ones that are easy to pick off and kill. Purchase ground beetle larvae and spread them throughout your garden; they won’t damage your plants but will kill off the slugs.
Use birds to your advantage. The biggest natural predator for slugs are birds; ducks, chickens, robins, jays, and other common species. If you’re not too grossed out, you can pick out slugs and toss them to the wild birds in the morning; they will become conditioned to look for slugs in your area over time, and you won’t have to ‘feed’ them for long. You can also let your chickens or ducks, if you have domesticated ones, eat the slugs from your garden on a daily basis.
Bring in some toads. Toads love slugs, and will eat them and other pests from your plants if you give them a home in your garden. If you’re trying to attract wild toads, turn a pot or other container upside down against a rock to create a dark hiding place for the toads. Otherwise, you can look into purchasing wild toads to live in your garden and eat the slugs on a daily basis for you. You can also look into adding a small decorative pond for the toads and frogs to reside in.
image via "knitsteel" Maybe you have poor soil quality, rent your home, or are unable to build raised beds on your property. Perhaps you're just looking for an inexpensive and easy way to start gardening at home! That's wonderful, this blog post... read more
More people are wanting to grow food in their small urban spaces like on their decks, patios, balconies and even indoors! Regardless of your budget or style, there's a system that will suit your taste and your wallet. Here's a... read more
Spinach is an easy to grow crop that does well in areas where there is at least a month or so of cooler weather. It does well when grown indoors and can withstand frosts and light freezes. If you're growing... read more
City dwellers or people who want to try gardening in containers can easily produce an abundance of food just by finding the right location within the walls of their home. By utilizing a sunny window or an indoor gardening area... read more