Controlling Slugs

European red slug Arion rufus (Linnaeus)
Bonsak Hammeraas from Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute
for Agricultural and Environmental Research

Keeping plants healthy in an organic garden involves avoidance techniques like creating a garden environment that encourages plants to grow while discouraging pests and diseases. Inevitably some problems will still arise unless specific action is taken.

The common slug is too common a pest to even need much of an introduction. Slugs attack a wide range of plants, causing anything from slight damage to death.

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method for eradicating slugs. All one can hope for is to reduce their numbers and protect plants when they're at a vulnerable stage.

Toads, frogs, and beetles eat slugs and are worth encouraging in your garden.

There are few fleshy plants that slugs don't eat. But if your slug problem is particularly bad, avoid their favourites, such as hostas and marigolds.

One of the best ways of dealing with slugs is to use physical barriers. Place plastic bottle cloches around plants, or sprinkle circles of lime, eggshells, or sawdust around plants.

Slugs are attracted to saucers or plastic pots of milk or beer (they drown themselves in ecstacy).

To be sure you're keeping your slimy slug population under control, collect them by hand at night or on damp days. Try collecting them under a tile or wet cardboard, and squash all eggs you find while digging.

Wendy Priesnitz is the Editor of Natural Life Magazine and a journalist with 25 years of experience. She is has also authored nine books and is a popular keynote speaker at conferences across North America.

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