Organic Slug Control

Sally Painter
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Slugs can destroy your garden.

Organic slug control offers you several natural methods for keeping these destructive pests out of your garden.

Understanding Slugs

Slugs can do more damage to your garden and crops than almost any other pest because they are often elusive and multiply at a fast rate.

It's a Slug World

One of the first things that will help you learn to control your slug population is to understand the slug's reproduction process. Slugs are hermaphroditic (possess both sex organs) which means they can multiply twice as fast as other garden pests. A slug lays hundreds of eggs at a time. You can till your garden in early spring to expose the slug eggs to dehydrate in the sun and wind.

More Slugs Than You Think

It's very deceptive to calculate your slug population based on the number found in your garden. The accepted science states that for every slug you find, there are at least 20 more lurking about your garden.

Organic Slug Control

Some of the control methods for slug infestation are simple and only require preparation and consistent application.

Nighttime Gardening

You can stalk slugs in the middle of the night with a flashlight and spray them with a mixture of water and ammonia (ratio of 1:1).

Beer: Not Just A Beverage

The fermentation found in beer attracts slugs. Many gardeners bury a jar filled with beer near their plants. The slugs crawl into the beer and drown.

Warning: The ground beetle, the slug's predator, might also fall into this trap.

Try These Barrier Methods

You can use plantings and minerals to act as slug barriers.

Iron Phosphate Bait

Scientists believe that iron phosphate, once consumed by the slug, prevents it from further feeding. Spread bait around the plants or use as a perimeter barrier.

Herbs, Vegetables and Plant Barriers

Companion plantings can also act as perimeter barriers.

  • Garlic
  • Mint
  • Ginger
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Endive
  • Sunflower
  • Chicory
  • Red cabbage
  • Red lettuce

No Cost Pest Control

Not all methods of controlling slugs costs money.

Reduce Slug Population Up To 80 Percent

One of the best kept secrets for slug control is to time the watering of your garden when slugs are inactive - mornings. A drastic reduction in slug populations (up to 80 percent) has been documented when using this method. Since dampness attracts slugs, changing the watering time from evening to morning means your garden will be dry by sunset. Fewer slugs will be enticed to enter your garden for a midnight snack.

Hideout: Create a Trap

You can create a damp dark trap for the slugs to hide under during the day. There are several popular methods using readily available gardening tools and supplies.

Upturned Flower Pot

  • A favorite gardener's trick for capturing slugs is to turn a flower pot upside down and place a pebble underneath the one side of the rim. Make sure the ground is damp. Some gardeners place a piece of sliced fruit underneath to encourage slugs to gravitate underneath the pot. Check your trap in the mornings and dispose of the pests.

Old Board

  • This method is easier than the flower pot trap. In the late afternoon, water a section of the ground beside the plants being attacked by slugs. Next place a wide board over the watered section. Turn over the board in the morning and collect the slugs. You can use newspapers or leftover landscaping cloth if you prefer.

Out of the Kitchen

Many ordinary cooking supplies can be relegated for slug control.

Salt Solution

This is probably one of the first remedy recommended to you to kill slugs. Salt kills slugs through a dehydration process. There is a risk that the salt will leach into your soil and kill your plants. Substitute table salt with Epsom salt which won't harm your plants. You'll need to sprinkle the salt generously to create a barrier between the slugs and your garden bed.

Coffee Grounds

Old-time gardeners swear by this method. The key is to use caffeinated coffee because recent studies have shown that it's the caffeine that kills the slugs. Spread used coffee grounds around the affected plants. You may prefer to purchase a caffeine spray created specifically for slugs. The caffeine spray is said to have one-percent to two-percent higher caffeine content than the average cup of coffee and is more effective in killing slugs than coffee grounds.

Other Natural Elements

There are many things found in nature that can aid in repelling slugs.

Seaweed: Soil Amendment and Repellent

Fresh seaweed makes a great soil amendment and a natural slug repellent. The salt content in seaweed repels the slugs. Spread seaweed around your plants being careful to keep it away from the actual plant. You need a barrier about four to five inches thick encircling your plant. You can use the seaweed along the outer perimeter of your garden bed. As the seaweed dries, it turns into an excellent garden mulch.

Lava Rock or Diatomaceous Soil

Slugs don't like lava rock because it has such an abrasive surface. You can use lava rock to create a rock barrier between the slugs and your garden. Just be sure to keep vegetation off of your wall or the slugs will use it as a bridge into your garden.

Diatomaceous earth is a composite of fossilized microscopic hard-shelled algae called diatoms. The creatures' skeletal remains are very jagged and sharp to pest with soft bodies like the slug. When a slug crawls through diatomaceous soil, the powdery pumice-like earth robs the slug of lipids. The resulting dehydration kills the slug.

Warning: Both of these pest control solutions can also kill helpful insects in your garden.

Get Slugs Under Control

You have many options for organic slug control and can experiment until you find the one that works best for your garden.

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Organic Slug Control