Keeping Slugs & Snails Away from Seedlings (Day 4 of 30 DTABG)

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It rained here the night before last and as I type this the weather looks threatening. Rain in these parts in June is rare, but with our drought it is always welcome. What is not welcome are all the slugs and snails that come out from where ever they hide to feast on our new garden additions. Snails and slugs can be detrimental to new spring gardens when everything is so tender and fresh. We’ve  tried pretty much everything that has been considered organic and pet/child safe in the garden and I’ll list it all below, but what works the best for us is using copper piping around our garden rows.

Copper piping surely is not the cheapest way to deter snails and slugs, but it is the most effective (they get a slight electrical charge when they crawl over it with makes them quickly retreat) and can be used year after year. Copper pipes can be found at your hardware store and cutting them to the length of your garden beds is easy with the right tool. We lay them out in early spring when we’ve set our beds up, we make sure to weed well around the pipes (so that no weeds overlap the pipe and make a bridge into the garden) and we’re pretty much golden for the growing season. In fall when we’re ready to retire the majority of our garden, we pick up the pipes and set them in a safe place. We’ve been doing this for three years now and can’t report any snail/slug problems (that I can remember). We also like this because the cats nor the kids can be harmed from the copper pipes and it looks nice and tidy.

Here are some other organic ways to prevent snails and slugs from eating your garden:

  1. Clean up around your garden. Snails and slugs love to hid in weeds, rocks and all sorts of other dark shady areas. By eliminating these areas around yoru garden you’ll get rid of the majority of your snail and slug problems.
  2. Beer traps. Now, this hasn’t worked for us, but enough people have told us about it that it must work for someone! Set out little dishes (empty tuna cans work well) of beer nestled in your garden. The snails and slugs will be attracted to the beer but will drown once they slid into the dish.
  3. Diatomaceaous Earth. This is the crushed up skeletons of a marine algea that appears like a powder. You lay out a 3-4 inch wide strip of diatomaceaous earth all around your entire garden bed and the sharp edges of the skeletal remains lacerate the skins of the slugs and snails. Those small cuts cause the slimy guys to dehydrate and die. (Nice huh?) We’ve tried this and it does work well, but you need to keep reapplying after it gets wet (it is ineffective once wet). You can buy Diatomaceous Earth DE Crawling Insect Killer – 1.5 lbs online.
  4. Give them a collar. If you are specifically worried about new seedlings being descimated by snails and slugs, make a collar from a paper cup to put around your seedling. Push this slightly into the ground to make sure it doesn’t get knocked over and this collar will keep creatures from crawling over and making lunch out of your new garden growth.

Tell me what keeps slugs and snails from eating your garden? Have you tried any of these tricks? Do you have one of your own that you want to share?

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12 Comments

Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden

12 responses to “Keeping Slugs & Snails Away from Seedlings (Day 4 of 30 DTABG)

  1. Well I’ve tried beer. It doesn’t work in my garden. Occasionally an earwig will suicide in it, but I’ve only caught a few slugs. Certainly not enough to stop an invasion. I’ve tried DE and still resort to it occasionally. The problem is that our weather is often wet. So during the worst slug times, it doesn’t help.

    Two common safe remedies that you don’t have listed are:
    Caffeine (coffee grounds) and crushed eggshells.
    I’m using both to keep the slugs off of my cucumber seedlings. I had quite a few copped down before I started protecting them. Caffeine is toxic to slugs, but in just lower concentrations than it is toxic to plants. Most people use used coffee grounds that don’t have much caffeine in them at all. It won’t kill a slug, but they don’t like it and it acts as a deterrent. BTW don’t go crazy on the coffee grounds. They are a fertilizer and acidic so can mess up your soil if you go overboard. Crushed eggshells are sharp and slugs don’t like to crawl over them. BTW the eggshells caused a bit of a problem yesterday on my seedlings. It turns out that my dog loves them. She is usually good and stays out of the beds, but the eggshells lured her in. She crushed one of my poor cucumber seedlings. So I guess it isn’t a perfect solution for me.

  2. We have used crushed egg shells and sand. The sand was either to get hold of and apply. Egg shells now to go the worm bin. =)

  3. I meant that the sand is easier to get hold of. Oy! My grammar is especially stinky today.

  4. This my first year gardening and although I’ve worked hard to get 2 of the beds uncovered and cleaned out (they were completely overgrown when I bought the place), I have yet to get the area around the beds cleaned out and I literally had field grass and dandelions growing to about 2 1/2 feet. It was crazy when I came back from CA last week.

    I went out and finally cut it all down and Oh My Goodness!!! Slugs galore! So many different kinds and teeny tiny to a good six inches long! Whoa! None had made it into the beds yet, I think they were happy with the plethora of stuff to much on in between the beds :)

    I am going to lay landscape fabric and then gravel over it. I’m hoping the gravel won’t be fun for them to walk over since I heard that using hazlenut shells works well as they don’t like go over the jagged edges. I may check those out as well as the farmer’s market has a guy that sells hazlenut products and he also sells big huge bags of the leftover shells :)

  5. we’ve tried the beer trick and it worked for us – but it evaporates quickly and who likes to waste beer? So we use canola/veggie oil and soy sauce. The soy sauce attracts them and the oil keeps them from getting out. Works great! And affordable. Just disgusting to dump after there’s a container full of “bug juice” and dead bugs/slugs – yuck !

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  7. ARNOLD BAULSAK

    WE HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SNAILS AT ONE OF OUR GARDENS. THE GARDEN IS CLOSE TO A WET FIELD OF HIGH GRASS. MILLIONS OF SNAIL RESIDE IN THE FIELD.

    WE SIMPLY VISIT THE GARDEN ONCE IN THE MORNING AND ONCE IN THE EVENING AND STOMP ON THEM. WE CREATED A WIDE PATH AROUND OUR VEGETABLE BEDS. THE SNAILS CROSS THE PATH ON THE WAY TO OUR VEGGIES. ON THE PATH THEY ARE VISIBLE AND WE CRUSH THEM WITH OUR GARDEN SHOES. SOME MAKE IT TO THE BEDS AND A FEW GET ON THE PLANTS. WE PICK THEM OFF BY HAND,DROP THEM BACK ON THE PATH AND STEP ON THEM.

    THE ANTS FEAST ON THE THE DEAD SNAILS. IT IS INCREDIBLE TOO SEE HOW MANY SNAILS AND SLUGS WE KILL EVERY DAY. NO MATTER HOW MANY WE KILL IT DOES NOT DENT OR DETER THEM FROM COMING BACK….AS LONG AS THE GROUND IS MOIST.

    THE GARDEN IS SO BIG THAT IT WOULD COST TOO MUCH TO FIGHT THEM WITH COPPER OR BEER AND I WON’T USE ANYTHING THAT IS POISON, SO WE ARE STUCK CRUSHING THEM.

    TWO OF US CAN GET THE JOB DONE WTITHIN 20 MINUTES EACH TIME WE VISIT THE GARDEN. WHAT A NIGHTMARE…BUT IT IS EFFECTIVE AND OUR PLANTS LOOK GREAT. IF WE LEFT THEM ALONE FOR EVEN A COUPLE DAYS THEY WOULD WIPE MY GARDEN OFF THE MAP.

  8. Annerliegh

    http://203.31.16.60/Resources/Snails.htm

    this website has some excellent suggestions in addition to those already mentioned.

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