Garden Pests

What can I do to get rid of slugs in my garden beds?

shutterstock_450283837Many know slugs to be just these slimy little creatures that leave a trail when they pass by. What you may not know is that slugs can actually be a gardener’s worst nightmare. Slugs are these icky little creatures that make their way into your garden and munch on everything in sight. These gastropods are incredibly sneaky and can effectively ruin your garden, eating plants at night for extra stealth. A small population of slugs can easily ruin an incredibly beautiful garden.

Thankfully, there are many different ways to get rid of these nasty little things. Many techniques can effectively lower the population of slugs in your garden so your plants can grow and bloom in peace. You can use traps, lures or even natural predators to ward off slugs. Now before we get into that, let’s try to get to know the creature regarded as every gardener’s bane of existence.

What sort of damage can a slug do?

The slug is most hated for the fact that it leaves holes in your produce and other plants. As mentioned, they feed in the middle of the night which means you’re unlikely to catch them munching. What other people don’t realize is that their rasping mouths consume not just the plants themselves, but also the young seedlings. In fact, those are often completely consumed.

Slugs don’t have an “off” season either. They munch on your plants, depending on how the moisture conditions are in your garden. The bad news is that most of the time, slugs are very abundant in gardens and your garden being populated by these creatures cannot be helped. This means that a certain level of damage has to be tolerated. Having said that, this doesn’t mean that you should let these slugs completely wreak havoc on your vegetation. You should still try to keep their population at a low. Let’s tackle how you can do just that.

Keep your garden nice and dry

Since slugs love gardens with lots of moisture, keeping yours dry will be a great deterrent. If you already have a bit of an infestation problem, it’s likely that you won’t see immediate results for this. Just keep that in mind for the moment. Here are a few ways to help you keep a dry garden:

  • Keep the grass on your lawn short and the garden area free of debris
  • Try to plan your planting and leave gaps in between plants for air flow
  • Water your plants early so they dry before the night
  • Look into install a drip irrigation that may minimize the use of water

 

Protecting the plants with barriers

 One could make use of ash and cinders as barriers to protect the plants. What’s strategic about this is that fine ash can dry the slug out, acting as a desiccant. Your best bets are wood ash and cinders. A word of caution though: don’t let these materials touch the plants. It’s not very good for them so be careful. Having said that, one should never use ash from waste that was burnt. This is because it’s likely to contain toxins.

If you can’t find ash and cinders, you have other options such as tobacco stem meal and oak leaf mulch.

Spraying Tea on Soil

This one is a home brew that you can make yourself. Make wormwood tea by taking Artemisia cuttings and steeping them in hot water for a whole day. Strain the cuttings and then add a little bit of soapy water in the mix. Put it in a container and then you’re free to spray this on the soil to deter the slugs.

Beer or Milk Traps

The scent of beer or milk is incredibly alluring for these slugs, so it’s a great tool to trap them with. Cut a can in half and then fill half of that with either beer or milk. After that, you just wait for slugs to fall into their own demise. Make sure the rim is at least an inch above the soil so the slug-eating ground beetles don’t fall in there, too! Since this is noticeable from only about a meter away, this is only advisable for either small gardens or very important plants. You should replace the liquid every couple of days as well.

Hitting two birds with one stone: Use eggshells

Putting eggshells around your garden is an extra great idea because it isn’t just used to keep out those slimy little slugs. It’s also good for the soil! You can take some eggshells and crush them so the jagged remains can function as a barrier for your more vulnerable plants. The eggshells also release a bit of calcium to the soil, making it “sweeter” and better for gardening.

If worse come to worst: Go hunting

If your slug infestation problem gets really bad before you begin taking effective measures to control it, maybe it’s time for a more aggressive approach. Put on those gloves, and pick at or kill the snails you see yourself. You can either pierce their bodies with a stick, or drop their bodies in a container with soapy water. Make sure to get a flashlight so you can spot those little creatures. A headlamp is optimal so you can use both hands effectively. Remember that they like hiding in shady and wet places, so looking for them on the undersides of leaves as well as damp crevices of your garden would make your hunt much easier.

If you’re freaking out about having slugs in your garden, stay calm and remember that all gardens have them. No garden is perfectly devoid of having little critters roaming around, feasting on the plants they find. Remember that it’s all about being able to effectively manage the population. Making any sort of progress with keeping the slug population at bay in your garden is already beneficial for your beloved plants. Keep that in mind, give your garden a regular dose of love, and it should be fine.

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