Dealing with Slugs and Snails in an Organic Garden
Written by Bill Date Posted: 24 February 2017
Slugs and snails will be part of a healthy ecosystem in many gardens and having some will usually be a fact of life. That said, you will have to control populations if they are too large. Slugs and snails can cause a lot of damage and are a particular problem for young plants.
Short Term Control
In the long term, making sure the garden has a balanced ecosystem will keep the numbers of these pests down. In the short term, there are some measures you can take to protect your plants:
- Slugs and snails are found in greater numbers after dark. Go to the garden with a torch and remove them by hand to keep numbers down. Removal is not a long term solution as getting rid of them can create a vacuum that can cause a population boom and make the problem worse in the long term.
- Protect seedlings by covering them with cloches made from cut off plastic drink bottles or similar. Give larger plants collars made from plastic drinks bottles or similar.
- Encircle beds containing vulnerable seedlings with copper tape or copper electrical wire and/or put a barrier of crushed, cleaned and dried egg shells around plants (this will only work in dry conditions when egg shells are sharp). Wood ash also works as a barrier in dry conditions, though could make soil more alkaline and should only be used in moderation. Some say that sheep's wool can also be used as a barrier around plants.
Traps For Slugs and Snails
If you have a bad population imbalance then you will probably have to trap and kill some slugs and snails. One popular trap is a bottle half buried in the soil with two holes cut in the side, half filled with beer. (Put a stick leading out of the bottle to allow other creatures to escape.) Slugs will enter, get drunk and drown.
Any moist damp places will be hiding places for slugs and snails. Look in these spots and you will see congregations and be able to establish the scale of the problem.
Plants To Repel Slugs and Snails
- Chives (placed or tied around plants)
Attracting Predators To Eat Slugs and Snails
The most effective way to control slug and snail populations in your garden is to make sure that you have predators around to keep their numbers down.
Predators of slugs, snails and their eggs:
- A range of different wild birds. (Attract as many birds as possible with feeders and nest spots etc.)
- Lizards and other reptiles.
- Some Frogs and Toads.
- Some small mammals
- Chickens: Chickens should eat slugs and snails. Allowing them to range into areas where they are found will help reduce numbers (though watch out as they will also tend to eat and scratch up seedlings). You can also throw any slugs and snails into the chickens' area when you find them. Just make sure you worm chickens regularly.
- Ducks and geese also eat slugs
Related blog posts:
Author: John Mauger Date Posted: 22 June 2017
Integrated pest management is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, etc.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 1 March 2017
At first the prospect of starting an organic garden can seem daunting to the novice gardener but once you have a basic understanding of standard terms and techniques, you'll quickly find that going green in your garden is simple, healthy, and fun.
Author: Rowan Date Posted: 27 September 2012
With spring rains and warmth providing perfect conditions for eating and breeding, you need to get on top of snails now before they start laying their eggs. You don’t want the shock of coming out one morning and seeing all your little seedlings decimated!
Recent blog posts:
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 12 April 2018
Growing seeds is an exciting and satisfying journey, but many small details can make the difference to your success. Planning is vital - before sowing, decide on how to give your seedlings the best start in life, and you'll be rewarded with healthy plants
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 3 April 2018
A healthy, nutrient-rich soil is a vegetable grower's best friend. Green manure offers a sustainable way of improving your soil year on year for very little effort, and this article explains how to begin.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 21 March 2018
Sprouting seeds is probably the fastest way of putting home-grown food on your plate. This article explains the benefits of sprouts, and gives a clear, step-by-step guide on how to start sprouting at home.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 16 March 2018
Microgreens have been an essential highlight of modern kitchens over recent years, but they're far more than a passing trend. This article explains what they are, how to grow them, and why every green-fingered food lover should give them a try.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 8 March 2018
Growing your own herbs provides a happy meeting between two great pastimes of gardening and cooking. Starting a herb garden opens up a huge range of flavors beyond those you'll find on the supermarket shelves.
View all blog posts