Growing vegetables is a lot of fun to do and really rewarding. But once slugs and snails get involved, the fun can very quickly be over. Today I’m going to share my plan with you for this year to combat slugs and snails. Starting with prevention and then we fight them away with protection. I’ve done some testing and actually found a proper solution to keep them away from our crops. Let’s dive into it and regain control of the garden so that we can fully enjoy it again.
Slug vs Snail
With all of this rain hitting our country the last few days we’ve been gathering loads and loads of slugs and snails and they’ve actually started eating my pointed cabbages to a point there is almost nothing left. To ensure that we regain control in the garden and chase the slugs away, I’ve made a plan.
Now let’s make sure we understand the basics of slugs and snails. The difference between a slug and a snail is the shell. Snails have a shell on their back that serves as a house. This is quite an important piece of information since we can take advantage of this.
Slugs look for cover during the day to protect themselves from the sun. That’s why you will usually see more snails than slugs in the garden during the day.
Busting All The Slugs and Snails Myths
Before we look at the solutions, I would like to talk about the misinformation you will find on the web. Many websites blindly copy information from others, so without testing they indicate things as a solution that doesn’t even work.
The Royal Horticultural Society also researched to look for a cure to this issue. While doing so they debunked many of the solutions given by others. crushed eggshells, pine bark mulch, sharp grit, and wood pellets seem to have little to no effect. They can work, but only if you put down a big line of let’s say 20cm (8in).
So it’s important to do some research before investing in all those solutions, luckily I did that for you so you don’t have to.
When To Combat Slugs?
Now when do we act on a slug problem? The first sign we usually see is some eaten leaves. Now although this is quite annoying, It’s not a huge problem. Some people want their crops to be perfect but it’s alright to share the outer leaves with nature and therefore give some back for the space we took.
But after a few rainy days, slugs and snails seem to take over your garden and start eating entire plants and manifest themselves inside your crops. If this is the case you might want to start with pest control.
3 Tips To Prevent Slugs and Snails From Showing Up
Each slug can produce 500 offspring annually, so it all starts with preventative removal! There are quite a few things we can manage around the garden to prevent slugs from showing up on our doorstep.
Tip 1 – Maintain your garden
Firstly we have to maintain the garden. Slugs hide from the sun during the day. So keeping the grass short makes sure they are not able to hide near your plants.
Tip 2 – Water in the morning
Slugs like moist conditions, so it’s best to keep the top layer of your garden beds dry by watering in the morning instead of in the evening.
Tip 3 – Keep your garden tidy
Also leaving things in the garden like trays or wooden planks will attract slugs. We can use this information in our protection strategy but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Help Your Small Seedlings
Starting your plants indoors makes sure they are strong by the time they go outside. This way they can take some slug damage.
I’ve recently sown pointed cabbages in seed trays indoors and they didn’t go outside before they already reached a decent size. That’s the only reason they are still alive.
If I had sowed them directly they wouldn’t have stood a single change to the amount that’s been eaten. So starting out your plants indoors and transplanting them is a great way to prevent the loss of your plants.
5 Tips That Work Against Slugs and Snails!
We’ve done our maintenance to the garden, removing high grass and random trays and planks and we are now watering in the early mornings. But now it’s time to fight back and take back control of our garden.
I’ve actually been doing some testing with slugs in a bin to see how they would react to a substance we’ve all got in our house or can easily get. Before we get to that I just want to give a few different ideas to protect your garden.
Tip 1 – Remove By Hand
The first one is, removing snails from your garden by hand. Even though it requires no products or special tricks. it does take time, may not be a permanent solution, and requires that you are okay with touching snails.
If you have the time and patience to use this method, you will need to regularly check your garden for slugs and, when you find one or more, you will need to pick them off of your plants and move them at least 20 feet away from plants that you do not want them to eat.
It’s best to do this at night since that is when they are most active. Grab a flashlight and be amazed by the number of slugs and snails you will find.
Tip 2 – Sacirfacial plants
Something that was recommended to me is called Sacrificial plants. As the name suggests it is sacrificing plants to save the crop you want to keep the slugs off.
You can either plant some lettuce near an ornamental garden bed to keep the slugs going for the lettuce instead of your ornamental plants. Or you can throw certain leaves next to the main stem of your veggies and make them eat those.
Slugs are rather lazy so they will go for the leaves on the floor instead of climbing up. It is important you stay on top of this because if the food source runs out they will go to the top.
Tip 3 – Create a hiding space
As I mentioned before, slugs don’t have a shell and look for cover to hide during the day. We can use this information to lure them to a spot where we can take them away. We can do this by putting a wooden board on top of your raised beds just like this.
Make sure you wet the space before adding the board. Moist and dark conditions will attract slugs. The next morning all you need to do is flip over the board and take away any slugs and snails you find.
Tip 4 – Beer Trap
Slugs seem to love beer, let’s make use of this and create beer traps. Take a cup and fill it halfway with beer. Put it about halfway into the ground and in this way create a trap for the snails.
It is important that you protect the top again by building something above it or putting a plant pot with a large hole on top. Snails like dark places so if there is too much light they will not enter. You can also easily use a snail trap.
Tip 5 – Share your coffee
I started drinking coffee a few months ago and I seem to like a good Cappuccino in the morning but slugs… They seem to hate it! This makes it a good home remedy to use in your garden. All you need are some coffee grounds. After you drink your cup in the morning, take out the grounds and sprinkle them around your plants. The higher the caffeine content the more effective the solution.
I’ve seen some tests online showing slugs crawling over coffee grounds and getting away. But this is because they have nowhere else to go. In my test 9 out of 10 slugs started to crawl over the coffee but went back to look for another way out. The coffee lines do need to be wide so it’s not too easy for them to just crawl over.
This works because of the caffeine in the coffee. So a caffeine solution might be an even better way to repel them. The moment a slug comes in contact with a high dose of caffeine they roll over and die. It’s not really understood why this seems to be the case but it does seem to work!
BUT! and this is a big BUT. A study done found that Coffee grounds slow down the growth of some plants. So it is safe to say you should not sprinkle a lot of coffee grounds too close to your plants. Now I must say that many gardeners actually add loads of coffee grounds to all their compost heaps. So I don’t think it’s that bad since they are growing loads of veggies. But it’s something to keep in mind.
So there you have it, a proper plan to rid of the slugs and snails in the garden. I don’t think there is just one final solution that works. It’s a combination of being on top of the garden and using some simple methods. If you have any other suggestions or questions leave them down below in the comments so that we can fight slugs together!