In April 2022 it became illegal to sell, supply or use slug pellets that contain Metaldehyde – a rather potent molluscicide which can harm birds and animals that eat contaminated molluscs. We’ve always shunned using slug pellets on our plot because of the aforementioned peril to wildlife, and also the fact that we don’t like having a sticky mess of shriveled dead slugs weighing on our collective conscience. It’s understandable, however, that gardeners want to protect their precious crops from slug attack so here’s a roundup of some slug-repelling alternatives.
Beer Traps For Slugs
A favoured, old-school gardening hack that involves filling a jam jar with beer and burying it up to the rim in soil near the plants that require slug protection. Slugs can’t resist the waft of a nice hoppy beer and will crawl into the jam jar and drown. This is an effective solution, but the drowning part might not be the nicest way to go (as much as we ourselves have fantasies about swimming in huge vats of beer…)
The Cardboard Distraction Method
Lay down a large sheet of cardboard on your allotment and weigh it down with a brick or two. You’ll find that slugs will not be able to resist crawling under and hanging out with their mates for some quality slime-time. Simply lift the cardboard in the evening, remove any slugs, transport them to a safe place (preferably as far away from your allotment as possible) and replace the cardboard when it becomes soggy and starts falling to pieces.
Organic Slug pellets
These are organic slug pellets that replace metaldehyde with organic ferric phosphate. These types of pellet affect the slug’s digestion system when consumed, and the slug will stop feeding and die within a day or two.
Wrapping a copper ring or copper tape around plant pots containing mollusc-enticing plants will thwart slimy invaders. Allegedly the copper creates a small electric charge that zaps molluscs if they cross it. We can’t decide if this alternative slug prevention method is one of those myths peddled by copper ring manufacturers (Rich has tried it on his hosta pots with ZERO success), so until we actively hear a slug shrieking with fear and see them backing away from a copper-ringed plant pot, we shall remain extremely skeptical.
Egg Shells In Compost
Save up crushed eggshells from your kitchen and sprinkle them in a circle around the plants you wish to protect. Slugs will find this a painful, spiky barrier to cross, and should think twice before attempting to cross it with their soft, sensitive underbellies. We’ve also seen posh restaurants that have adjoining vegetable gardens using oyster shells to create pathways around raised garden beds. Difficult to create in your own garden paths though due to the amount of oysters you’ll need to consume.
Maintaining a Slug-Hostile Ecosystem
An easy way to at least keep a lid on a booming slug population is to encourage slug-eating predators. Birds such as thrush and blackbirds are your slug-eating buddies, so keep those bird feeders and water bowls topped up. Hedgehogs love to chow down on slugs, so creating uncultivated, wild areas in your garden (and a hole in your fence so they can get in) will hopefully encourage them to nest. There are more tips for looking after a hedgehog in your garden here. Slow worms are also very partial to the mollusc menace, so panels of wood laid in garden borders may tempt them to take up residency.
What are your top tips for getting rid of slugs in your garden? What is your preferred organic slug pellet to use? Let us know in the comments below.