Slug-Free Sanctuary: Strategies to Get Rid of Slugs and Keep Them Away

Last update: 1 month ago

Woman getting rid of slugs in the garden
Image source: epiximages / Shutterstock.com

Slugs are acclaimed agricultural pests, but it’s a little-known fact that there exists another, more controversial theory. It claims that the sluggish unwanted dwellers attack plants with rotting spots, caused by pathogen sponges, whereas the snails happen to be the surgical doctors, removing the sick matter. You haven’t thought about them in that light, right?

Well, there’s more to the story… It’s obvious that after the slugs remove the sick parts of the plants, they continue feeding on the healthy green matter – “the appetite comes with eating”. So there’s obviously a reason to worry about having these guys around the veggie garden, on the lawn, in flower pots, greenhouse, etc. Yes, they get around looking to feed on plants’ leaves, but also ripe veggies or fruits.

However, the ecological supporters leave their gardens untreated with chemical substances, with the slugs thriving free. It is claimed that this way their population remains stable, without any sharp ups and downs in their numbers, the damage on the plants – relatively small, whereas the production – healthy.

So we have dedicated the next lines for the farmers and gardeners who have second thoughts about keeping slugs in their properties.

Fortunately for avid green-living supporters, there are a bunch of methods to get rid of sluggish creatures without using heavy-duty chemical weapons. Some also allow to get rid of them without killing or harming them in any way. Ultimately, the strategies below should be effective enough to help you reduce the number of slugs in the garden and stop the creatures from feeding on your plants.

Important: We have to say from the very beginning – there isn’t a magical “once and for all” formula to deal with the slug problem. Even if, supposedly, you eradicate them in a given territory, not long after the neighbouring bright new slugs will come to conquer the free lot. The effort to regulate the quantities of the slugs must be constant and persistent, and, at its very best, timely. The sooner you take the precautions, the more effective they will be.

Eggshells to the rescue

They are an effective weapon against both snails and other pests. You have to wash and break the shells into small pieces and then sprinkle them around your plants. This way you will be creating a barrier that will make the slugs think twice before exposing their soft bodies to the sharpness of the shells.

Some people prefer to also mix coffee grounds with the eggshells, as it is believed that the slugs do not favour the smell. Eggshells will also do a good job as natural fertilisers with them being rich in calcium.

If you own a large parcel, though, that’s a lot of eggs you have to use, so perhaps a different approach would be more suitable. Or just focus on protecting the plants that get most frequently attacked by hungry snails.

Diatomaceous earth

You probably wonder what this is, so we will explain. This “earth” is the fossilised remains of diatoms, which are a kind of a hard-shelled algae. This method is just as effective as the cracked eggshells, and no soft-bodied creature will ever go over it.

It’s like humans with bare feet and broken glass, nobody walks through broken glass with bare feet. The first few may fall victims but the rest of their crew will know better.

Diatomaceous earth is often used to control other pests too, such as cockroaches, fleas and even ants. In addition to being abrasive, it affects the exoskeletons of the insects and causes dehydration. Some people prefer to spray the slugs with a salt and water solution, which works in the same way by dehydrating them. However, keep in mind that the salt could also negatively affect your plants.

Citrus rinds

This technique is a bit different from the previous two because it is a trapping technique. You need citrus rinds for the purpose. Put them around your plants with their outside down at night, and in the morning you’ll have lots of slugs trapped in them.

This can be a bit disgusting as in the morning you have to remove the slug-traps with the slugs inside. Again, this is a method that’s compatible with a small garden.

Plants that deter slugs

Companion planting is very effective, and we at Fantastic Gardeners consider it highly beneficial on many levels, not just as a means against pests. Companion planting means that you have to plant different plants near each other so that they can benefit from each others’ properties.

Some crops and herbs can be used as repellents against slugs and other pests. Some of the plants that keep slugs away are anise, rue, fennel, rosemary, and wormwood. Most of these are quite delicious in salads and meals, too.

Wooden plank pranks

The slugs like to rest in cold, damp places, so they will crawl under rocks and wood when the sun rises. Throw several wooden planks around your garden and check them in the morning.

Chances are that when you pick them up there will be snails attached to them. Just scrape in all of the overnight sluggy tenants away and repeat the procedure.

Do it manually

Snatch, aim and throw them out on the road (hopefully you got a neighbouring side that’s not another person’s garden or property). The idea is to get them as far away from your garden as possible, otherwise, sooner to later, they may find their way back.

Carton traps

It’s a perfected version of manual pick-up. Throw several wet cartons (0.5 -1 m2) across the infested territory. Depending on the climate and the season (the wetter, the faster), after a couple of days, you can pick them up and burn them together with the glued slugs on them.

Slug pubs

For this method, you will need little cans or jars. Clean them and bury them deep in the ground almost to the edge (but not completely, we will tell you why later on). Finally, fill them with fresh beer.

Slugs are attracted to the natural smell of yeast so they will fall into the jar and drown. Drown in beer, those boozers.

Nemaslug powder

This is a very popular method here. Basically, powder for the soil, infused with microorganisms that enjoy feasting on slug’s flesh. When their comrades fall, the others will think twice before overstepping their boundaries.

These methods could be efficient for small vegetable gardens. Although effective, with most of them you will still have to mechanically remove the bodies.

Go chemical?

The worst thing about slugs isn’t their appetite, though. The worst is that most commercial products that should help people get rid of them, also repel and damage the population of some useful species, such as bees and butterflies.

Moreover, some anti-slug insecticides can “poison” your crops, and in the end, you won’t eat organic food as you wish. That is why, such toxins should be avoided and replaced with natural slug-fighting techniques like the various ones we provided above.

Why do I have so many slugs in my garden?

When the conditions are beneficial for the slugs – warm and rainy spring, cool and humid summer and a soft autumn – they sharply increase their ranks. The main things that attract them are food and humidity. They can feed on both plant parts, but also vegetables and fruits, which means they can thrive in pretty much any garden.

To try and reduce the slugs’ numbers, be careful not to overwater your plants. Also, it’s best to water in the morning, so there is enough time for the soil to dry during the day.

The shell-less snails are active during the night, but if it is cloudy and rainy they can feed during daylight. By protecting your plants and setting traps, you will be stopping the slugs from eating them, therefore, limiting their food sources. The hot and dry weather, the direct sunlight, the cold and the wind are natural deterrents and keep slugs out of the picture.

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We hope this post is useful to you. Don’t forget to leave your comments and suggestions below, especially if you know more slug-fighting techniques.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great post and thanks for sharing. Im starting to use ths strategy. Every little helps right!

  • Slugs hate coffee grounds! also used tea leaves but not as much.
    I used to get the coffee grounds from a local coffee shop by giving them one of those big really useful boxes and pick it up every other day giving them an empty one. they were happy as it was less in their bin. I put thick rings of it around delicate plants like coriander and hostas. I’d very often see a slime trail swerving away from the ring in the mornings. Coffee grounds are actually a decent nutrient for the soil too so win win!

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only one that’throws’ slugs into the distance.!!!!!!!!!
    I’ve planted fennel next to my broccoli and cauliflower, Anna am saving up eggshells… thanks to your advice…. Thanks for sharing guys…

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