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. A revolution in the traditional concept?
No, not by any chance. It’s obvious that after they remove the sick parts of the plants, the animals continue feeding on the healthy green matter – “the appetite comes with eating”.
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. We have dedicated the next lines for the farmers and gardeners who have second thoughts about keeping slugs in their properties.
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How to get rid of slugs without killing them
Fortunately for avid green-living supporters, there are a bunch of methods to get rid of sluggish creatures without using heavy-duty chemical weapons.
- Eggshells – they are an effective weapon against snails and other pests. You have to break the shells into small pieces and sprinkle them around your plants. They will keep slugs away and will also do a good job as natural fertilisers. If you own a large parcel, though, that’s a lot of eggs you have to use.
- 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 might fell victims, such as is the case with eggshells, but the rest of their crew will know better.
- 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, a method that’s compatible with a small garden.
- Companion planting – this method is very effective, and we at Fantastic Gardeners consider it can be of your favour not only 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 a repellent against snails 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 – they slugs like to rest in cold, damp places, so they will crawl under rocks and wood when the sun rises. Throw around your garden several wooden planks and on the next morning pick them up – and scrape in all of the overnight sluggy tenants away.
- 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).
Organic ways to kill slugs
The following ways are also efficient for small vegetable gardens. They are as effective as the other methods, but with most of them, you still have to mechanically remove the bodies.
- 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 together with the glued slugs on them.
- Slug pubs – those little cans or jars, buried deep in the ground almost to the edge (but not completely, we will tell you why later on), and fill 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.
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.
The uneven battle
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. 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 shell-less snails are active during the night, but if it is cloudy and rainy they can feed during daylight. The hot and dry weather, the direct sunlight, the cold and the wind are natural irritations 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.