Caral, we all have our slug sob stories. This year they've killed two emerging lilies and a delphinium (the only one out of two that came up). I haven't grown lupins for years because it just breaks my heart when they get eaten.
I've never used slug pellets because when I started gardening my children were small, now they're big and sensible but I still don't want little blue pellets everywhere. I hate slugs and snails with a passion, but over the years I've developed the following strategies:
Slug hunt every night with a torch. Pick them off and put them in a jar of salt water.
Snails are crushed and thrown onto the path for the birds.
I cut up plastic bottles and put copper tape around them then sink them into the ground to protect vunerable emerging shoots. If I forget, then I'm punished, hence the delphinium and lily massacre this year.
Anything I love and I know they are going to decimate, like my hosta or marigolds, goes into a pot with copper tape around the edge.
I have a couple of beer traps which I do find helpful. Last year a dahlia from the local gc was being chewed to death. It was too big for a copper ring, so I popped the trap next to the plant, and that seemed to do the trick. They came over for the dahlia but then were distracted by the beer and died an alcoholic death. Can't say I'm sorry.
It's not foolproof. I posted on a thread the other day about how I found some holes in my hosta leaves and then found a small snail nestling in the middle of the plant. I think it crawled up the wall and then onto the leaves which were touching it. So the pot has been moved away from the wall now.
I had an Achillea millefolium Cerise Queen in the ground. Last year I put a copper ring around it as they ate it almost to extinction. I got a few flowers, but I noticed this year that even in spite of the ring they were still attacking the bits that flopped over and the plant just was not thriving. So I've popped it into a pot and hey presto, in just a week it's sending up loads of shoots and seems a lot happier.
It's an ongoing war, you can never relax. Always be vigilant and you will manage to hold them back enough to grow the plants you want. You're not alone!!