On Gardeners World, Monty Don said that he gets more letters about how to kill slugs or get rid of them than all the others put together. They are the most annoying of pests on the allotment.
There seem to be as many ways suggested to get rid of them as there are slugs! (OK slight exaggeration)
So what is the solution? Is there one? Every year when you take your plants to the allotment or put them out in the garden and sometimes even before, the battle begins. (Note: If you do nothing it is not a battle it is a massacre and in the slugs favour)
(Note: If you do nothing it is not a battle it is a massacre and in the slugs favour)
- 1 Slug Wars, How to Defend Against and Kill this Annoying Garden Pest
- 2 Slug Pellets, Are they a Necessary Evil in the Battle Against Slugs?
- 3 PESTS – The Slug
- 4 Defence Against the Onslaught
- 5 Attack Methods
- 5.1 General Methods of Slug Removal
- 5.2 Organic or Non-Toxic Methods of Slug Removal
- 5.3 1. Beer Traps Help
- 5.4 1.a Beer Substitute
- 5.5 2. Hand Remove and Squish the Slugs
- 5.6 3. Salt Kills Slugs
- 5.7 4. Egg Shells Help Deter Slug Movement
- 5.8 5. Slug Pellets, non-Organic
- 5.9 6. Coffee Grounds
- 5.10 7. Waterproofed Sandpaper
- 6 Recommendations for Control
Slug Wars, How to Defend Against and Kill this Annoying Garden Pest
I have looked into every angle I could find and will share them with you here so you can decide what you want to try for yourself.
The first thing to decide is your gardening method. Are you an organic gardener or don’t you mind the occasional chemical?
I am aiming to be as organic as possible, however, have found that for some success in the early years, slug pellets were and are a must – at least for me in my circumstances.
But with more experience I wanted to move away from them as they are not good for wildlife, nor the soil.
Slug Pellets, Are they a Necessary Evil in the Battle Against Slugs?
Inorganic Slug Pellets
The quickest and easiest way to deal with slugs, in my view are slug pellets. If you are on a tight budget the cheapest ones are the non-organic ones you can get in your local Wilkinsons, B&Q, B&M etc. for about £1 to £1.50. They work well. They kill the slugs. They are blue so the birds will not eat them.
All seems well. However, they harm the birds and the hedgehogs etc. that eat the slugs. They also have chemicals that build up in the soil.
So, the next logical alternative would be organic slug pellets. They cost about 3.5 times the amount of the other slug pellets. Before I tried these I was advised they did not work.
They were right the pellets did not work at all. They were not waterproof although the pack said they were, they vanished after some rain and did not really stop the slugs.
After much frustrations with the local slug pellet buys and more searching on-line I did find one that has a very good set of reviews.
The problem here was the price, which at £6.60 was getting a bit steep. It is very popular and it actually works without harming the soil, wildlife or pets. And although it is a higher outlay than the local ones it also works out economical as it lasts longer.
Fighting slugs or any garden pests feels like you are fighting a war. And like any battle you have to do many different things. Defend, attack, have strategies.
PESTS – The Slug
Battle Preparations – Know Your Enemy (The slug aka the shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusc)
or better known as slimious pain in the buttus
Your enemy, the slug. A very small creature that eats your vegetables and takes down your crops without mercy.
Your mission should you choose to accept it – to successfully grow veg with as few holes as possible by strategically removing said pest.
Slug Hiding Out
As with any plan you need a goal, alternatives and strategy.
Defence Against the Onslaught
1. Keep Your Plot Tidy
Defending against slugs helps reduce their numbers.
When I first started I was given a very useful bit of advice, not welcome advice for someone who isn’t very tidy, but good advice.
Keep Your Plot Tidy and Clean! Yikes Nooo!
Yes, it is a sad fact that the slug thrives on an untidy plot. They hide under and in pots, cane balls, broken wood etc. They love high overgrown wet grass, half dead leaves of plants and weeds.
Keeping your plot tidy will help start the path to much-reduced slugs. If you don’t believe me just pop some of this stuff around your plot and leave it then go back and check.
So, keep any grass trimmed, pots tidy and remove weeds or bits of veg from the plot.
2. Building Barriers to stop Slugs
If you have raised beds the use of wood bark or stones for paths helps hinder their progress.
They do hide out under membrane, but it keeps their exits down. Since they hide out in the soil itself anyway, it is not causing any additional issue. Unfortunately, they also hide out along the edges of the planks. Sigh.
I have seen and been advised of many attack methods aimed at felling this tiny but persistent enemy. Or require you to be able to get to the plot on a daily basis.
Weapons of choice. Do they actually work?
General Methods of Slug Removal
- beer substitute
- Hand remove and squish
- Egg shells
- Slug pellets, non-organic
- Coffee grounds
- Waterproofed sandpaper
Organic or Non-Toxic Methods of Slug Removal
- Organic slug pellets
- Garlic Spray
- Slug Traps
1. Beer Traps Help
Beer traps do work. However, you need to use proper beer for it to work really well, and it needs to be fresh as well. The idea is a bit like a wasp trap. You put the beer into a container and the slugs are attracted to it and fall in and drown.
This to me sounds like an expensive way to dispose of slugs (not to mention a waste of perfectly good beer). You would need to go up in the evening and remove the next day and keep returning. In an allotment with an infinite supply of slugs, this is quite a commitment.
1.a Beer Substitute
I have heard that bakers yeast and a little sugar mixed together in a trap works well. Some also say flour. I haven’t tried this or the beer method.
2. Hand Remove and Squish the Slugs
This works if you have the patience to sit there and wait for them with a torch in the dark. And if you are willing to or want to squish them. Even then there is no guarantee that you will get them all. You can entice them into pots or veg so you can find them easier. Also, look out for eggs and get rid of them that way.
3. Salt Kills Slugs
Spread salt around your plot in lines so the slug will have to cross it. Only works if not washed away. Or actually put the salt on the slug. Apparently, this is not very nice and the slug is killed quickly.
4. Egg Shells Help Deter Slug Movement
This is my mums’ favourite method and she swears by it. My sister tried it and wasn’t so impressed. Her slugs simply climbed up the wall and stretched across to the plants. Hmm, smart slugs, who’d have thought it. I tried it and can’t really say as I had so many slugs. It slowed them but wasn’t enough on its own. A barrier helps but you need more.
5. Slug Pellets, non-Organic
As discussed above these are the easiest and quickest and not very expensive way to deal with and kill slugs, although not necessarily the best way to do it.
6. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are said to stop slugs or at least to keep them away. You can get these from your local coffee cafe for free. However, according to an article, I was reading on-line in the Independent according to EU law this may be breaking the law.
7. Waterproofed Sandpaper
If you put this around your beds or pots is should stop the slugs from getting to your plants.
Recommendations for Control
Defend against the slug as much as possible. However, also use more than one technique to attack and kill the slug. Which combination you use will depend on your gardening method ie whether open soil, pots or beds, how you feel about chemicals and how much you want to invest in a solution.
See Part Two Here