Keeping Slugs Out of Your Garden

After a relatively warm winter, spring is finally reaching Southern Ontario. As April begins, the rains will continue as the old saying holds true; April showers bring May flowers. You have either planned or are currently planning your gardens, or are anxiously waiting for your first plants to sprout. What you’re not looking forward to, is seeing your beautiful garden being devoured by slugs and snails! We’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you protect your gardens from pests this spring and summer.
1. Build a perimeter around your garden using anything dry, dusty, or scratchy, as slugs & snails will avoid crawling over them. Examples include using diatomaceous earth, cinder, gravel, sand, or coarse sawdust. Obviously when using the above examples heavy rains could wash away your protective barriers, so only use these types of barriers around the types of plants you absolutely want to save from hungry slugs, unless you don’t mind rebuilding your entire garden perimeter after every heavy rain.
2. Use Epsom salts in your garden. Not only will it help to deter snails and slugs from entering your garden, but will also keep your soil rich in magnesium sulphate, which will translate into lush and full gardens; who doesn’t want that?
3. Human, dog and cat hair can be used around the base of plants to act as an organic barrier between your plants and hungry slugs. As an added bonus, this type of barrier will also help keep many of the smaller bugs away from your garden, which is especially helpful if you’re growing vegetables.
4. If you see any slime trails leading into your garden, destroy the track immediately. Use a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and quickly rinse it off. If you’re too slow, other slugs will follow the slime trail into your delicious garden.
5. Consider planting some anti-slug plants, such as mint, chives, garlic, fennel, foxgloves, and geraniums. You can plant these around the edge of your garden to act as another form of slug barrier.
6. Give the slugs and snails some beer! No really, give them some beer. Take a plastic cup and bury it in your garden, with about a half inch of the cup above the ground. Once the cup is in the ground, pour some beer into it and wait overnight. Slugs and snails will fall into the trap and drown, then simply throw the mixture into your compost and repeat.
7. A more humane slug trap is the grapefruit trap. Not only will this help you to get into the habit of eating a half grapefruit for breakfast, it also gives you the rind to make the trap with! Once you’ve eaten the half grapefruit, cut two holes into the sides of it, allowing room for a slug or snail to crawl into it. Place the grapefruit in your garden face down and wait. In the evening, check your trap; it should be filled with slugs and snails that are happily eating your leftovers. Simply throw it into the compost and repeat the next morning.