By Tresa Erickson
You’ve always wanted a vegetable garden, but you never had the space for one until you bought your first house. After a couple of summers working on the house, you finally found the time to start that garden. The first year was a bit rough, but now you’ve got it together and your garden is flourishing, except for that swarm of slugs that slips in at night. They’ve torn into some of your plants, and you need to put a stop to the madness now.
Getting your slug problem under control will take some time. You may choose from any number of methods. Some gardeners prefer using chemicals like slug baits. These, however, can be harmful to pets and humans and must be used with care. Other gardeners prefer using more natural means.
If you would like to try the natural route first, here are some ideas:
• Ash. Sprinkle ash throughout your garden. The slugs will not crawl through the material in fear of it dehydrating them.
• Beer or milk. Fill some shallow pans with beer or milk and insert them around your garden an inch or two above the surface. The slugs will be attracted to the liquid, crawl into the containers and drown.
• Boards. Lay some boards on the ground in your garden. The slugs will move under them when daylight breaks, and all you’ll have to do is pick up the boards and remove the slugs.
• Caffeine. Spray down your plants with a 1% caffeine solution. The slugs will be turned off by the odor and avoid your plants.
• Coffee grounds. Sprinkle coffee grounds throughout your garden. The slugs will be turned off by the odor and feel of the grounds and avoid coming into contact with them.
• Copper. Create a copper barrier around your garden plants, raised beds and pots. The slugs will receive an electrical charge when coming into contact with the copper and move away fast.
• Diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth throughout your garden. The slugs will not crawl through the sharp, powdery material in fear of getting injured.
• Lava rock. Create barriers of lava rock around your plants. As with the diatomaceous earth, the slugs will avoid crawling over the sharp rocks in fear of getting injured.
• Seaweed. Place a ring of seaweed around your plants, being careful not to touch the plant stems. Slugs hate salt and will avoid crossing the seaweed.
These are just some of the methods you can try to eliminate slugs from your garden. You can use almost any substance that will not harm the plants in your garden but make it difficult for slugs to enter. Barriers of eggshells and sand, for example, may work just as well as coffee grounds. However, you will have to reapply them on a regular basis and after each rain.
To speed up the elimination process, you should water your garden early in the morning. This will give the soil ample time to dry out before evening sets in and the slugs come out. Slugs are attracted to moist soil. If the soil in your garden is dry, they may not be as apt to enter it and stick around. If, on the other hand, you insist on watering your garden when the sun goes down, they will almost certainly flock to your nice, wet garden and attack your plants.
None of the methods mentioned are 100% foolproof. If you really want to eradicate all of the slugs that enter your garden, you can do so by hand. Just visit your garden each night and sprinkle salt on the slugs you spot. The salt will dehydrate them, leading to their death. Many gardeners have experienced much success with this method, some reporting very few sightings of slugs after a couple of seasons. Whatever method or combination of methods you choose, good luck!