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Most of the seedlings I have planted out this year have been eaten by slugs within a day.

I have my final two runner bean plants that need to go out.

How can I prevent these from being the next feast for the slugs? I don't want to use chemicals so it has to be organic. I am fine with killing them (they have driven me to it!)

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Have you tried crushed egg shells? Especially around the plants you want to keep slugs away. – Darius Jul 13 '11 at 18:14
@MongusPong Somewhat related: Do techniques to repel slugs also work on snails? – Mike Perry Sep 28 '11 at 21:25
I've been at war with the slugs and snails in my garden for the past 4-5 weeks. I thought I would start growing vegetables with my children but this wasn't to be. I started with the beer traps which trapped around 20 slugs/ snails, then made a plan to pick up 20/ day from shrubs/ plants each day (told about the snail tree by my kids). The last few evenings I have gone outside with a torch at midnight and collected a full freezer bag of the most disgustingly huge slugs I have ever seen. I think there must be thousands in my garden and am wondering if there is any such thing as an organic method – user1484 Aug 5 '12 at 9:35
A similar question with some interesting alternative answers has been asked on Sustainability SE – THelper May 2 '13 at 22:36

11 Answers 11

Save the beer and make your own traps is my suggestion. It works just as well and is a lot cheaper.

Mix the following and let it sit in a warm place, stirring occasionally until you get a yeasty smell.

1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast

Place it in marjarine containers, pop bottles etc, every 15 feet or so in your garden. It's worked quite well for me. Good luck

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I drank all the beer and so I've had to try this one instead. Will see in the morning how effective it is! – Mongus Pong Jun 26 '11 at 21:53
No slugs in the juice this morning. Will try getting some beer today and place it next to this one to see which is more effective. – Mongus Pong Jun 27 '11 at 8:33
Looking forwards to your result! – lamwaiman1988 Jun 30 '11 at 3:18
Lager beer works better than ale... slugs don't like hops – Ben Welborn Jul 8 at 0:23

Slugs don't like crawling (sliming? oozing?) over copper. I've seen ribbons of copper and other types of copper bariers sold in gardening stores, but I usually just go to my local hardware store and buy a few feet of thin, non insulated copper wire (8 gauge wire, I think, is what I usually bought). I then bend them into loops and place the loops around the veggies I want to protect. This has worked pretty well for me, and is has definitely been a good way to protect small, young plants from slugs.

Beer traps are also very effective, and I usually use a few of those too, but they tend to catch lots of other crawling bugs. Also, one of the most disgusting gardening tasks I've ever done was empty out a trap full of week old beer and dead slugs. Of course, I did dump it into my compost bin.

One other thing I've read about beer traps is that the non-alcoholic beer is better for baiting than the real stuff. I've never been able to tell that much of a difference, but I can usually find the non-alcoholic stuff on special.

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Beer isn't working either. Does it have to be any particular kind of beer? I am trying a cheap bitter that I found on special offer. – Mongus Pong Jul 1 '11 at 8:35
@Mongus Pong - Every beer or fake beer I've put in a container has attracted at least some slugs. Keeping it somewhat fresh is important (empty and refill after two or three days), and you may want to try a couple of different locations to see if you catch more at one place over another. I usually have a few in an area I'm trying to protect, maybe a few feet apart, maybe closer. – rsgoheen Jul 8 '11 at 17:59

Here's an idea that makes a lot of short term work but has paid off for me in the long run.

Add a water feature with some shallow (1" to 2" deep) areas. You will attract birds, frogs and toads who will assist in keeping the slug population low. This does not eliminate all slugs, just some of them. And, it takes time for the word to get out that your garden is a good place to live.

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Also consider adding roosting spots if you want your garden to be bird-friendly. I've got a few posts for the pole beans, tomato stakes, and a fence around the perimeter. The birds fly in, stop on the roosts to look around, deliver a little fertilizer, and then hop to the ground to grab some bugs/slugs/weed seeds. Seems like a fair trade -- fertilizer for my unwanted junk. – bstpierre Aug 10 '12 at 13:33
@bstpierre the birds don't also eat your tomatoes? – Philip Jul 21 '14 at 3:38
They sometimes eat the tomatoes a little bit, but bird damage is always far less than insect damage. – bstpierre Jul 22 '14 at 2:41

I have been using "Slug Stop" non-toxic granules for some years now, and they do the job - and withstand heavy rain! They are extremely absorbent and work by extracting moisture from slugs and snails as these contact them. They aren't cheap, but they are the only organic deterrent I have found - and there aren't many I haven't tried! - that gives effective protection against slugs. I don't know if they are available in the US...

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I have tried some of the non-toxic / organic spread and granules from Lowes and Home Depot. Nothing has matched the success of the beer buried in a cup in the ground. In my region of the northeast this is probably the only method I would suggest and is easily available.

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Not sure where you are in the world (therefore not sure if they're available where you are), but have you looked into using nematodes?


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Slugs are great workers in a compost pile.

Leave a hearty amount of vegetable left-overs (eg: potato and orange peels) outside during the night and come back early in the morning. It'll be full of snails that you can either get rid of, or throw into the compost bin.

You can then proceed to add a wall of egg shells to make sure they stay in the compost bin.

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Slugs love the yeast in beer. Bury a container in the ground where slugs can climb in. Fill it halfway with beer and the slugs will climb in and the alcohol will kill them. Another way to control slugs and snails in your garden is to spread ashes from the fireplace around the perimeter of the garden. This will deter the pesky critters. Salt spread around the perimeter will also do the job.. I hope that this helps!

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Adding salt to your garden is a bad idea. Slugs don't like it, but neither do plants. – bstpierre Jun 29 '11 at 12:02

I've tried everything in the above answers. I detest killing. BUT, the only way I was able to make a difference in my garden was to get a flashlight and go out at night while slugs were out of their hiding spots and cut them in half. Hundreds every night for 3 or 4 nights and then it drastically began to reduce. I'd go out every other night, every third or fourth night. I left the poor things with their guts all over my lawn. Someone said that they didn't like being near their dead relatives. I think that is bunk. But my goodness if I didn't have to worry about slugs in a few weeks of this grisly task. It is quick and humane...enough. I also would recommend getting rid of big chunks of wood, rocks around the edges of your planting beds and tall weeds. These are their homes.

I once had two muscovi ducks that gobbled up slugs and snails. Sigh. Then they shat them out on my back doorstep and that was worse...grin, good luck!

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Hand picking them at night is a great way to get a large population under control. After you have reduced their numbers you could try a few things.

If you have mulch around your plants you may want to move it back away from the plant stems. Mulch is a great hiding place for slugs.

They do not like to go over any rough material so spreading some Diatomaceous earth or wood ashes around the plants will help. Be careful with too many wood ashes as they will affect the pH of your soil. Both of these materials will need to be refreshed fairly often, especially after a lot of rain.

Good Luck!

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You should try iron phosphate pellets. They disrupt snail and slug digestive system causing them to stop eating as soon as they ingest it.

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