Slugs – Removing Them Naturally and Un-naturally

Getting Rid of Slugs

As a rule, I don’t tend to kill any living creature, ok so I may step on one of the many snails or slugs when its dark and raining but when it comes to removing a spider from the house after the kids or my partner run screaming from a room – I happily remove it (on a tissue if it’s too ghastly) and take it outside for it to happily wander back in once it finds a way.

That said, there are those moments in life when ones hard work becomes ruined by what I like to call pests, I find them in my troughs, in my hanging baskets, just about everywhere I work hard to improve, it was particularly annoying to see my plant trays attacked that I received as a Mother’s Day gift – I do call them others things as well but in a family friendly piece of content I do not think that is the way to go about it, so pest control is in order. So onto the agenda for today and with that being slugs and how to remove them I shall get on with it as best as I know how.

There are some people in this world that are not too worried about how these creatures are removed and there are some that would like a more orthodox approach, so I think it’s for the best if I cater for everyone and cover the subject from both angles. The best way in my mind is when the birds eat them, slugs will attract all manner of lovely wildlife.

This first little remedy that you will read below is probably the one that I remember the most, as my youngest daughter proudly informs her Nana about it whenever she goes into the garden planting.

Natural Methods

Eggs – After using eggs, save them up in their box and when you are ready to use them, crush up the shells and place them onto the soil in your plant pots acting as a natural deterrent and saving your previous plants.

Cornflour – Put a couple of tablespoons of this everyday kitchen ingredient into a jar or bottle and lay it down on its side the slugs truly love this stuff and as sad as it is, after eating it they will die.

Red Leaves – Slugs for whatever reason do not like plants with red leaves so to protect your favourite plants why not plant some of these types around the edge to act as a natural barrier. It won’t stop the insects though, so bare that in mind.

Pine Needles – This natural method works wonders as the needles are highly acidic and slugs prefer environments that have an alkaline composition.

Sand – Coarse sand is another method that will deter those slugs from eating at your foliage as the sand will rip their stomachs open. Sand is also great for drainage in your soil too. It’s also handy to buy a bag of sand for the garden.

Beer – Now as a lover of beer I personally do not use this method but a friend of mine brews his own so is never short of using it for the many things that he does. You can use this in a similar way that you would the corn flour or you can dig a hole big enough to hold a cup, place into the ground and empty each morning. You will be surprised at how many slugs that you can dispose of in this way.

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Coffee – As I am sure you can tell I am running out of natural ways in which to deter or eliminate the slimy beings but, I have recently read in the Daily Mail that coffee seems to work a treat but it’s actually illegal in EU terms. Simply placing coffee granules around your borders and lightly dampening the soil will pretty much solve the problem that may have been causing you hassle for so long. Please not this is illegal and I highly advise against it.

Salt – I find salt a difficult one to categorise so I am placing it in the middle, yes it’s a natural product but is it really a humane and natural way to use it? It obviously causes a lot of pain to the creature and not to mention can ruin your soil if sprinkled on or around it, but it is an effective way of eradicating them. Personally I don’t like the idea of ruining my soil, so here’s some tips on how to improve soil instead, and I think let’s pass on this method.

Un-natural Methods

First off I would start by saying if you have toddlers these methods are a terrible idea and completely unsafe.

Ammonia – I am not a huge fan of ammonia myself, when I was about 15 in a science class at school we were experimenting and the teacher specifically said do not get close and smell the chemical. So what did I do? You guessed it, myself and a lad called James thought it would be funny and I gave it a little sniff. Minutes later I had finally recovered from my coughing fit vowing never again to do such as stupid thing – you have been warned. To use this concoction, dilute five parts water to one part ammonia and spray onto the plant. Try to get the consistency correct as a weak solution will not damage the plant but will dissolve the slug.

Slug Pellets – This method is readily available in any shop that sells garden products but should only be really used if you do not have pets or children as the pellets can be toxic and makes someone very ill. They can also harm birds so if you have a colourful garden that attracts them it may be wise to find another way.

Burn them – I am not even sure I should even mention this as a way of getting rid of slugs, but a weed burner is another option – just be sure to not do it close to your plants, animals or children for obvious reasons.

Slug Hunting – Does this sound fun to you? Me neither, but I have heard that this is yet another method that can be used to get rid of them, the only catch is that you have to be up in the early hours, on a damp night and be prepared to remove them from your wellies before entering the house. I think I will leave that one well alone.

Throw them over the neighbour’s garden – We don’t really recommend this action, simply because it’s not polite and the slugs will still make their way back to your yummy vegetation but I thought it was a great way to end this article and hopefully leave you with an arsenal of insight and a smile.

There are obviously other pests to control but we can cover those in a later article, I hope you enjoyed the read, thanks very much,

Using Coffee To Deter Slugs

Gardeners Breaking EU Law By Using Coffee To Deter Slugs

Gardeners who use coffee granules to keep slugs at bay during this wet summer may be surprised to learn they are in fact breaking EU law.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has warned that placing coffee granules near plants and vegetable patches in the garden to ward off the pests could be against EU regulations.

This summer has been particularly wet – one of the wettest on record, we haven’t had the usual plant dehydration issues that come from a summer drought – which has been great for slugs(take a look at slug control options here that are EU friendly) and snails but a struggle for gardeners who have found their vegetables and plants inundated with the pests. The likes of cabbages and lettuces, in particular, have been munched on heartily by slugs over the last few months. Insects control is of paramount importance in these wet years, the wet great for animals though and a start contract to needing to help wildlife in your garden through a drought.

Organic gardeners want to avoid using chemicals in their gardens and so have been using coffee granules instead of slug pellets, as the caffeine in the coffee deters slugs. This is why tea leaves work well as a deterrent too but they won’t stop other pests.

In The Garden magazine, the RHS warned that such a gardening technique is breaking EU law and gardeners could face big fines. The Independent reports that Dr Andrew Halstead, principal scientist for plant health at the RHS, said that any home-made solution without EU approval is against the law.

Any active ingredient needs to be approved for use and added to an EU list of pesticides, and caffeine has not been tested. This means its impact on the environment, gardeners and surrounding wildlife is unknown.

“All chemicals being used to control or deter animals are classed as pesticides in the UK and EU, and must be registered and approved for this purpose by our own government and the EU,” Dr Halstead said.

“Legislation requires potential pesticides to be extensively tested for effectiveness, environmental safety, operator safety and safety of breakdown products before they can be sold and used.”

Although gardeners are being warned of possible big fines as a result of using coffee to deter slugs, Dr Halstead admits the chances of this actually happening are “remote”. Quite rightly so, how on earth do they expect us to put our coffee remains in the compost bin, yet not directly around our plants baffles me. one of the main things I teach my child in the garden is not to waste, always re-use coffee grindings.

“Anything that has not been through the system is illegal to use as a pesticide, however safe that chemical is perceived to be. Heavy fines can be imposed for breaches of the laws relating to pesticide use; however, the chances of being prosecuted for scattering coffee grounds in a garden are, I suspect, remote.”

Using coffee granules as a mulch or to enhance the compost bin is fine, however. In fact, the gardening benefits of coffee are well known and a number of coffee shops will give away the ground coffee from their machines to gardeners for free, most grindings make excellent base for quality soil and end up in pots or for happy hanging baskets.

Dr Halstead commented: “If you were to use coffee grounds around plants with the intention of providing some organic matter in the form of a mulch, rather than as a slug control/deterrent, then the regulations relating to pesticides would not apply. This may all sound rather daft, but the intention of the pesticides legislation is to prevent people from applying untested dangerous chemicals.”

soap and water on plants to kill insects
soap and water on plants to kill insects

Gardeners use a variety of other means to deter slugs and other pests from their gardens, including soap and water on plants to kill insects and salt to kill slugs.

Bob Flowerdew

Bob Flowerdew, who’s written a number of books on organic gardening, commented on the fact gardeners frequently use soap to kill aphids on plants: “As long as you say, ‘I’m not killing the aphids, I’m giving them a wash, but oh dear they seem to have died accidentally’, it’s OK. It’s the British way: we work our way around the regulations.”