Natural Slug Control
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• Watering Schedule
Far and away the best course of action against slugs in your garden is a simple adjustment in the watering schedule. Slugs are most active at night and are most efficient in damp conditions. Avoid watering your garden in the evening if you have a slug problem. Water in the morning - the surface soil will be dry by evening. Studies show this can reduce slug damage by 80%.
If you have access to seaweed, it's well worth the effort to gather. Seaweed is not only a good soil amendment for the garden, it's a natural repellent for slugs. Mulch with seaweed around the base of plants or perimeter of bed. Pile it on 3" to 4" thick - when it dries it will shrink to just an inch or so deep. Seaweed is salty and slugs avoid salt. Push the seaweed away from plant stems so it's not in direct contact. During hot weather, seaweed will dry and become very rough which also deters the slugs.
Small strips of copper can be placed around flower pots or raised beds as obstructions for slugs to crawl over. Cut 2" strips of thin copper and wrap around the lower part of flower pots, like a ribbon. Or set the strips in the soil on edge, making a "fence" for the slugs to climb. Check to make sure no vegetation hangs over the copper which might provide a 'bridge' for the slugs. Copper barriers also work well around wood barrels used as planters.
A non-toxic copper-based metallic mesh Slug Shield is available which can be wrapped around the stem of plants and acts as a barrier to slugs. When slugs come in contact with the mesh they receive an electric-like shock. The mesh also serves as a physical barrier. These slug shields are reusable, long-lasting and weather-proof.
• Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (Also known as "Insect Dust") is the sharp, jagged skeletal remains of microscopic creatures. It lacerates soft-bodied pests, causing them to dehydrate. A powdery granular material, it can be sprinkled around garden beds or individual plants, and can be mixed with water to make a foliar spray.
Diatomaceous earth is less effective when wet, so use during dry weather. Wear protective gear when applying, as it can irritate eyes and lungs. Be sure to buy natural or agricultural grade diatomaceous earth, not pool grade which has smoother edges and is far less effective. Click for more information or to purchase Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.
• Electronic "slug fence"
An electronic slug fence is a non-toxic, safe method for keeping slugs out of garden or flower beds. The Slugs Away fence is a 24-foot long, 5" ribbon-like barrier that runs off a 9 volt battery. When a slug or snail comes in contact with the fence, it receives a mild static sensation that is undetectable to animals and humans. This does not kill the slug, it cause it to look elsewhere for forage. The battery will power the fence for about 8 months before needing to be replaced. Extension kits are availabe for increased coverage. The electronic fence will repel slugs and snails, but is harmless to people and pets.
• Lava Rock
• Commercial Slug Baits
Diatomaceous earth comes in the form of a chalky powder, and is the natural fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae.
For non-toxic, effective treatment for earwigs, slugs, and other garden pests: sprinkle over plants and around edges of garden beds.
More information on Diatomaceous Earth
Suggestions from site visitors:
I twist a thin copper wire around the base of my tomato plants about 2" up from the ground.The ends are crossed over, but only twisted part way, just enough to stay in place. As the plant grows the copper will expand gradually. Sometimes the wire drops to the base, but it's easy to just slide it up and tighten it a bit. I've had very little slug damage to my tomatoes using this method. Glenda, NY
Mix a solution of 70-80% household ammonia with water, put this solution into a spray bottle and set the nozzle to squirt like a water pistol. I wait till it gets dark-when the slugs are most active, then with a flashlight begin squirting. The ammonia is harmless to plants but the slugs die within a couple of seconds. It took me almost two summers of doing this almost every night but now I don't have any slugs exept for a few visitors from under the neighbours fence which do not take much time to get rid of. Dennis, MB
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