One of our arch-nemesis in a food garden is found at the end of a slimy trail. With a massive appetite, garden slugs and snails can eat several times their body weight in one meal. Lock up your lettuce and cage up your cabbage as we search for the best organic snail and slug control for your food garden.
Organic snail and slug control
They are quite the party-goer with several turning up when the mild, damp, and wet weather sets in. Bringing with them every other snail and slug they know, they can disappear as quickly as they arrived. Once the morning light breaks through, you’ll never beat them in a game of hide-and-seek.
You’ll find snails and slugs on your leafy greens, like lettuce and cabbage and they find new seedlings very hard to resist. As soon as you plant them, just remember if you don’t protect them, the snails and slugs might just throw a pop-up party. Snails and slugs need their slim trails and moisture for hydration, so you won’t find them hanging around as much in the warm, dry weather. However, when their slim is flowin’ their appetite is growin’ so be prepared and give some of our organic snail and slug ideas a go.
Slugs and snails love a beer or two, see I told you they were party-goers. However, like some of our friends, they can’t hold their drink. I can assure you that they leave this world with a smile on their face. To make a beer trap, grab a container or deep saucer and bury it below ground level so the rim is at ground level. Fill the container or deep saucer with cheap beer (don’t waste the good stuff). They will find this sugary treat too hard to resist and it will have dire consequences.
Copper tape comes on a similar roll to sticky tape and can be stuck around a garden bed, planter or pot. It needs a clean, dry surface to attach to and it will stop snails and slugs in their tracks. Copper tape is very effective in creating a barrier between your food crops and our slimy friends. The static charge they receive is too much for the majority of them. There are quite a few conflicting views, but like with any organic solution, you need to have a go yourself.
Companion planting is an organic gardening strategy where natural processes work to help solve problems. It includes deterring pests, attracting pests, improving soil conditions, enhancing the ecology of your food garden and so much more. For pests like slugs and snails, you can use companion planting to lure them away from your food plants. Some plants they can’t resist include French marigolds and horseradish.
Coffee grounds or spray
I love reusing and recycling, and coffee grounds can be a perfect solution when used in the garden after consuming a fresh brew. You can sprinkle coffee grounds around your seedlings to form a barrier or spray them with a brew of 10-to-1, water to coffee. Use espresso coffee because the instant stuff isn’t strong enough.
Citrus rind halves
This one is for the shellless slugs. Choose a large citrus fruit, like orange or grapefruit and cut in half. Remove the contents (the fruit) and you’ve created the perfect little igloo. Turn them upside down and place them around your ‘slug’ area. The next morning you’ll be sure to find some slugs hanging out in the igloo. Slugs go looking for a safe place during daylight hours, so when you find them, bin them for safe removal.
If you can pronounce it the first time around, you’re doing well. Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring marine sediment that includes high traces of minerals. It has many beneficial uses with animals and throughout our garden. There is even a food-grade version. You can also use it as a barrier for slugs and snails by sprinkling it around your plants. Not only will the tiny diatoms (structure) be razor-sharp to cross they will also draw out moisture causing them to die of dehydration.
Eggshells or seashells
Eggshells are great in your garden or compost because of their high level of calcium. Snails and slugs also find them too sharp to cross over. Ensure your egg or seashells are crushed up enough to make a strong barrier and sprinkle them around your leafy greens.
Sprinkle lime around your food garden and watch the slim blazers avoid it. It works because it absorbs moisture and we know how much snails and slugs need moisture to survive. So for this reason, they will avoid crossing over it. If they did, they would face losing a lot of mucus and, in the process, vital body fluid. Not good for them, but a great organic product for us. Garden lime is calcium carbonate, which helps correct acidic soil conditions and adds minerals. A win-win for your garden.
Mulching with strong herbs
Take companion planting one step further and mulch in some strong-smelling herbs to create a really unpleasant environment for your unwanted pests. Try using tansy, mint, lemon balm, or wormwood to stink the place up for them.
Nighttime spotting (2 hours after sunset)
Catch them when they are at their most active around 2 hours after sunset. Head outside with a torch and wear your gloves and boots. You can round them up in a bucket of soapy water, or stomp on them to get it over with fast.
Predators (frogs, birds, bluetongues)
Attracting predators into your garden will help keep your slim machines under control. This involves creating suitable habitats with plenty on offer to entice their appetite. Chooks and ducks love them too, so if you go on a night time spotting adventure, make sure you put a lid on your container. The girls will love to gobble them down like a treat.
If you have access to seaweed it’s worth giving this a go. Seaweed is rich in minerals and because it’s from the sea, it will also contain salt. Give it a wash down to rid it of the excess salt, and don’t position too close to the leaves of your plants. You can stack them around and create a wall. Our slimy friends won’t like the smell of salt or the spikey surface, especially once it starts to dry out in the sun. The soil will love it.
Upside down pots
By now you are sure to have learned that snails and slugs are more nocturnal. Because of their need to stay cool during the day and protect their moisture levels, they will retreat to a safe place. You’ll find great success turning a terracotta pot upside down and leaving them to ‘party-on’. Collect them when its daylight and well…you know the next step now.
Wood ash, shavings, or sawdust
Another option for a barrier is to sprinkle a layer of wood ash, shavings, or sawdust around your precious plants. This will deter the snails and slugs because they don’t want that stuff sticking to them and absorbing all their slime.
Whatever your chosen defense against snails and slugs remember they can wipe out your new seedlings overnight, so don’t get all complacent with these trailblazers. Stay ahead of their destruction by implementing organic gardening techniques and safe remedies so your food garden remains clean.
Happy slime hunting.