Your garden this is coming along beautifully this year. But soon you start to notice small holes appearing on your plants. Shrugging it off, you wake one morning to find half of your seedlings completely gone and large, jagged holes in the leaves of the rest of your plants. What's going on? Then you see the silvery trail and follow it to uncover...slugs!
One of the worst pests gardeners have to deal with, there are about 40 species of slugs living in the U.S. Before you reach for that pesticide and have a go at causing the extinction of all slug species, however, try a few of these non-toxic, pet and child safe alternatives to ridding your garden of these slimy intruders:
The most effective methods for slug removal is a can trap. Take an open 12 ounce aluminum can (a half-empty beer works especially well as slugs love the yeast in it; if you're using a soda can, fill half way with a mixture of yeast and water, or grape juice) and sink it into the dirt around your plants so about one inch is visible above ground. Slugs will fall in and drown. You can also use this method entirely above ground by cutting a hole about one third of the way up the can, filling with bait, and just placing in your garden. Remove dead slugs once a day, and replace the bait every four days.
Bait piles are an even easier way to eliminate slugs. Place piles of bait in various locations around your garden, and leave for a few hours (this works best at night or early morning, as slugs avoid the heat of the day). When you return to the piles, they will be teeming with slugs, and you can simply gather them in a plastic bag and throw them away or crush them and add them to your compost pile. Excellent baits for this trap include cooked cabbage leaves drizzled with butter or lard, or dry dog food softened with water.
Place overturned grapefruit or melon rinds in the garden, and slugs will flock to them as a source of shelter and food. Just crush the whole thing and move to the compost pile for removal. Some other variations on this trap are a board raised about an inch off the ground by two smaller boards, dampened carpet pieces, or overturned flower pots. These are great places for slugs to hide, only this time you'll know exactly where they are.
Mix two tablespoons flour with just enough beer to make a thick paste, and put one teaspoon of this mixture into small paper cups. Scatter several of these on their sides throughout the garden area, and slugs, attracted to the smell, will crawl in, become stuck in the mix, and ready to be disposed of.
By using a combination of these methods you'll have a slug free garden again in no time, and can be proud of the fact that your methods are good for your garden and the environment.