If you like to garden, then you might know the sorrow and pain that follows the moment you find out a slug has found its way into your garden. When you enter your garden in the morning and notice that shimmery slug trail, a feeling of horror enters your body. How much damage have the slugs done this time? How many of your carefully nurtured seedlings have been nibbled on (that is if there is even anything left)? In this blog post, I’ll be discussing 4 simple ways to control slugs naturally.
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Manually removing them
If you read my blogpost about my nocturnal slug hunt, then you know all about my war with slugs. I started my battle with slugs in a very primal way. About two hours after dusk, you would find me in the garden with a head torch and a greedy look looming over my most treasured herbs and seedlings. Any slug I would come across would be gathered and after I gathered about five of them, I would head over to the stream and dispose of them there.
I was really fanatic and enthusiast in the beginning and kept counting the slugs in my head. ‘Pfwoah, caught another eight there, you won’t be nibbling on our veggies and herbs!’
It was satisfying, but… after having caught about the same amount of slugs each night, ten nights in a row, it gets a bit discouraging. The fact that I’d rather be watching television with the hubby and the feeling that it seems an endless battle makes it hard to go out there night after night.
Truth is, there are so many slugs out here (thanks rainy UK weather!), that doing it manually just isn’t doable. If you have a smaller garden, however, doing it manually could be a very good option for you! Slugs come out of their hiding places after dusk.
Do you want to make sure that they are all out there joining the munching party? Go out there one to two hours after dusk, since that seems the best time.
Covering the seedlings with jars
Once I expressed my struggles with slugs, a lot of people came with amazing tips. This is one of them. A friend of mine from the Netherlands said: why don’t you just cover the seedlings with jars? That way the slugs can’t get in and at the same time you create a nice warm and moist environment for them. Brilliant!
Now I will be honest, I can’t find this method mentioned much online. One website mentioned it as a low-cost alternative for garden cloches and victorian glass bell jar cloches. Items about which I had never heard before by the way (learned something new!). It did mention, however, that holes had to be drilled in the bottom, which can be a bit tricky.
I used it for a little while in my raised plant troughs, but it does seem a bit of a hassle for a bigger garden. On top of that, we have a lot of bigger herbs that wouldn’t fit under a jar. So my research continued…
Using beer traps
Again a wonderful tip given to me and definitely very effective! What you need to do is collect small little jars or tuna tins. Clean them up and dig those into the outer areas of your beds, since that’s where the slugs often come into your garden bed. You want them to pass your beer trap before they reach your crop! I’d say you need about one beer trap every meter.
The rim of the jars or tins has to stick out about 2,5 cm above ground level since you want to avoid killing ground beetles. Then fill them with beer. The beer doesn’t even need to have alcohol in it, since they are really attracted to the yeast. I used a very dark ale since I wasn’t aware at first that the beer could be alcohol-free as well!
Online I notice that some people haven’t found the traps very effective, but here it has made an immense difference! The first morning after placing the beer traps, I found around 15 slugs in EACH beer trap. That happened for a couple of days! By now there are less of them going into the trap, but I guess that makes sense.
I think this is a great way to get rid of your slugs, but there are two cons about beer traps. The first con is the fact that you will need to empty the jars quite regularly. It is not a fun job, but then again manually picking slugs isn’t either. The second con is a logical consequence of having to empty the jars and that is having to refill them too.
Online it is mentioned that you have to empty and refill them daily. I’ll be honest and admit that I definitely don’t do it that often. I do it maybe once every four days? But if you do it more often and have a big garden, it can add up to a lot of beer!
Covering the garden beds with agricultural fleece
Last but not least I have another tip, which was given by an Instagram page called Grow.to.eat. She has a great garden. When she mentioned it, I just took her word for it and fair play, it has been working! In the nights, I will cover my two raised garden beds with agricultural fleece. In the morning I will take it off again. It is also a good way to protect the beds against unexpected frosts, which happens a lot here. I bought my fleece on amazon and I am quite happy with it.
The one I use is currently unavailable on Amazon, so I have linked a different one with good reviews here. (This is an affiliate link, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure policy here.)
The options are endless
All in all, there are so. many. ways. to get rid of slugs. I don’t believe I have even covered half of the options out there. Read the RHS article about slugs here to find out about other options.
In the future when we own a property, I’d love to set up the garden differently. I’d like to make it as efficient and nature friendly as possible. I’m eager to try methods like planting plants that slugs don’t like close to the crop.
Also growing seedlings indoors until they are big and strong, and then potting them out is definitely something I’d like to have a go at. I’m afraid we don’t seem to have enough space at the moment! For now, I will have the beer traps in the Tudor garden and I will keep covering the raised plant troughs with agricultural fleece.
What is your favourite way to get rid of slugs? If you have a tried method that is really efficient and I haven’t mentioned it in the blog post, make sure to share it in the comments!