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: 14 August 2018
Bees play vital part in the production of many of the world's food crops. Unfortunately though, bees are under threat from intensive farming, disease, and even climate change. This article explains how planning your garden with bees can make difference.
Author: Jennifer Charlotte Date Posted: 7 August 2018
Many plants dislike the disruption of being transplanted to their final location. Sowing your seeds in eggshells overcomes this problem, while also offering environmental benefits and providing your plants with extra nutrition.
Author: The Seed Collection Date Posted: 2 August 2018
Not all plants fit their growing season to your local conditions. Any gardener who loves tomatoes will know all about the race to ripen fruits before the first frosts arrive. However, you can sow these & other cold-hating seeds in late winter.
Author: The Seed Collection Pty Ltd Date Posted: 23 July 2018
Herbal teas offer a wide variety of intriguing flavours as well as many benefits to health and wellbeing. However, perhaps most importantly, they also open up new ways of enjoying your garden and of growing a wider variety of unusual plants.
Author: The Seed Collection Date Posted: 17 July 2018
Some plants produce seeds that have evolved a period of dormancy to get them through a winter before germinating. Cold stratification is a method of simulating seasonal conditions to encourage reluctant seeds to germinate more reliably.
View all blog posts