Where I live in the Pacific Northwest slugs are everywhere….cruising over moss covered stumps, slipping under pots and sneaking through lettuce leaves. One unforgettable memory I have from my youth is of my mom serving me a fresh salad from the garden with a slug in the middle of the bowl….yuck! My mom is a great gardener, but those little slugs are hard to stop and they can leave your garden a mess as well as prevent many young seedlings from growing. Here are a few methods to reduce the slug population in your garden:
- Hand Pick. Just think of it like a u-pick farm. Or hide and seek. The more slugs you remove from your garden, the less reproduction and fewer future slugs. Keep them in check before they get out of control. Check your plants periodically, especially when the garden is wet, and pick out the slugs, dropping them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. I always enjoy the lively sport of slug tossing….over the fence, into the road, as far away from your garden as you can get them! Those big ones can go a looooong way.
- Beer/Yeast Traps. Place a shallow dish of beer in the garden. Slugs will crawl in and drown. For a DIY yeast trap, put two cups of warm water into a jar. Add a packet (about 2 Tbsp) of dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Mix it up and divide between two jars. Half bury the jars in the soil and slugs will crawl in and die. Empty every few days.
- Iron Phosphate Bait (Sluggo). I avoid the toxic baits that can kill pets, but iron phosphate is safe and very effective. After the slugs eat the bait they crawl away and die a few days later. Sluggo remains effective after rain.
- Copper Tape. Copper creates a barrier that slugs do not want to cross because it gives them a tiny electric shock. Wrap the copper tape around raised beds or containers for a no-slug zone.
- Keep it clean. Keep your garden free of trash, piles of weeds or rotting plants that slugs can hide under. Prevention is the best cure.