Whether you kill slugs or move slugs elsewhere, getting rid of slugs from the vegetable garden is an ongoing task. Slugs have a way of mowing off baby plants in hours or perhaps minutes. There are plenty of chemical products you can purchase to kill slugs, but many of us don’t want toxic chemicals in our gardens. So, are there natural ways to rid slugs that don’t involve toxic sprays, pellets, or powders? Yes, here are 13 natural ways to rid slugs.
1. Natural Way to Rid Slugs: Limit Moisture
First, it’s important to know that slugs like damp dark places, and they’ll feed on garden plants where there’s overhang or where it’s damp. Controlling the amount of leaf mulch or leaves touching the ground is one way to help control slug population. Another is to water in the morning, giving the ground time to dry before evening. Slugs are rather nocturnal and do most of their munching at night.
2. Natural Way to Rid Slugs: Hand-Picking
You can try to control slugs by hand-picking them, viewing them with a flashlight in the dark by following their shiny trails. You can focus on adult slugs and pick them off before they reproduce. You can use tongs or gloved hands. Some folks don’t mind touching slugs with bare hands, but I find it rather gross.
3. Natural Way to Rid Slugs: Barrier Plants
Planting mint or sage as barriers around plants you wish to protect, may be worth trying. Although I’ve not tried this one myself, I understand others have had success with it.
4. Natural Way to Rid Slugs: Cornmeal
Another method is the cornmeal in a jar technique. To do this one, you’ll want to place a jar filled with cornmeal on its side in your garden at dusk. Slugs will crawl inside during the evening and ingest the cornmeal. It seems to stop them in their tracks.
5. Natural Way to Rid Slugs: Pet Food Bait
Another technique is to put dog food or cat food under a pie tin in your garden. Cut a few side vents in the tin for doorways. Slugs will go in during the evening and begin munching. In the morning, you can lift off the tin and collect them.
6. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Slug Haven
You’ll want to collect slugs before it gets too bright in the day and they go into hiding. Providing a slab of wood or an upside-down bucket in the garden gives slugs a place to hide during the day. Just turn over their shelter in the morning and you’ll find plenty of slugs you can remove from your garden.
7. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Sharp Stuff
Wood ashes, sandpaper, broken egg shells, pine needles–they all have something in common when it comes to slugs. Slugs hate to cross anything sharp, abrasive, or powdery. These materials make great deterrents.
8. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Salt or Dunk
Salt is a commonly used technique to kill slugs. Some folks salt the slug directly; others drop slugs into salt water. Salt kills slugs, but it also has a negative effect on your soil. So you’ll want to be careful to only salt the slug, not the ground. Other household products that work in much the same way are ammonia and vinegar.
9. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Offer Liquor
Another way to kill slugs is the beer in a tin can method. Put fresh beer (they like the yeast) in an empty tin can and sink it into the ground–leaving maybe a half-inch of the can above the level of the soil. In the morning you’ll have a can full of slugs.
10. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Distract
Slugs love lettuce and little baby plants. So if you place a few leaves of lettuce in the garden, slugs will head there for the free meal and leave your baby plants alone. At least that’s the plan. In the early morning, you can gather up the slugs on the lettuce leaves and dispose of them.
11. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Peels or Grounds
Some folks use citrus peels and coffee grounds to help control slugs, claiming it also makes great fertilizer.
12. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Spark Them
Copper is an interesting mineral when it comes to slugs. When slugs come into contact with copper, it creates a spark. Running a copper tape line around your raised beds will keep the climbers out. Slugs simply won’t cross copper barriers. Copper pennies in a line might work,too.
13. Natural Ways to Rid Slugs: Use Predators
Finally, you can always add natural slug predators to your garden. Ducks, chickens, turtles–these creatures seem to like slugs. I must say, however; the chickens I owned a few years ago, ate only small slugs.
It’s time to defend your baby plants, naturally. These 13 slug-killing or slug-controlling techniques use means, methods, and materials you can easily access. They’re all natural and they’re cheap.
Weekend Gardener, Sept 2010, How to Kill Snails and Slugs-The Definitive Guide