Love them or hate them, slugs are a part of the garden ecosystem and are a vital source of food for a wide range of wildlife further up the food chain, including frogs, toads, birds and hedgehogs. However, many of us don't have the perfect balance of predator and pest, and need to resort to alternative methods of control. That said, it's important not to harm other wildlife in the process of controlling slugs, so it's best to do this organically.
Using organic solutions to protect plants from slugs can be a battle, but by keeping vigilant and using several methods at once, it's a battle that can be won. Wet weather will always encourage slugs to attack our plants but, by getting out into the garden to regularly pick them off, together with employing physical barriers and organic traps, you can gain the upper hand.
Wet weather will always encourage slugs to attack our plants but, by getting out into the garden to regularly pick them off, together with employing physical barriers and organic traps, you should be able to win the war against these hungry molluscs
Use beer traps
Slugs seem attracted to beer and, by using a beer trap, you can lure slugs away from your vulnerable plants. Use a bespoke slug trap or a pint glass, filling it one-third with beer (ideally ale not lager). Partially bury the trap, leaving at least 1cm above the soil surface to stop other creatures falling in. The slugs will drown and can be added to your compost heap.
Use a calcium spray
Spraying plants with a protective calcium chloride solution, such as Grazers G2 Formula, seems to deter slugs and snails, while not harming any other wildlife in the process. Dedicated use can yield fantastic results, as long as you repeat applications after rain.
Use copper barriers
Slugs will not move across copper, so, by placing a copper ring around emerging shoots you will enable them to grow without being eaten. Bear in mind that, as the leaves grow, they may flop over the copper ring, and be eaten. Slugs (and snails) may also climb other plants and drop down onto the young shoots, to avoid the copper.
Tips for a slug-free garden
- Patrol your garden on wet evenings and hand-pick slugs and snails from your plants
- If slugs are a huge problem in your garden, consider growing plants they don't eat
- Be vigilant - the more often you control them, the fewer problems you'll have
- Consider digging a pond – frogs, toads and newts eat small slugs, while birds and hedgehogs will eat them, too
Other ways to control slugs and snails
- How to chose slug-resistant plants pt 1
- How to chose slug-resistant plants pt 2
- How to control slugs organically
- What's eating my plants – slugs or snails?
- Factfile: slugs
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