Following on from last week’s guide to mollusc-bashing, here are some more ways to banish slugs from your garden.
The War on Slugs has three fronts. The chemical (poisoning with pellets), the physical (barriers and traps) and biological (employing slug-eating animals).
This week it’s the turn of the physical. Physical barrier methods rely on making the surfaces around the plant difficult or unpleasant for the slug to cross. Based on personal experience I think the old-fashioned ideas of putting crushed eggshells, coarse grit and similar jagged materials around plants is utter tosh. A slug can cross a razor blade if it has to and will generally mock your attempts to divert it.
What do coffee grounds and copper tape have in common?
Strangely enough, copper tape and coffee grounds are the only two barriers I’ve ever seen working. Coffee grounds work because they’re also a poison – the slugs receive a fatal dose of caffeine. The coffee grounds do need replenishing fairly often but it’s hardly an onerous task.
Copper tape works in a different way – giving the slug (or snail) a tiny electric shock, which is enough to put it off crossing the tape. So this method works well for pots (attach it close to the rim if you don’t want it to be too obvious). It’s also handy for putting on the legs of greenhouse staging. The important thing is to make sure your pots don’t have slugs in them already. So it’s best to re-pot plants, checking them carefully. Some slugs will hide in the soil, especially towards the bottom of the pot, or hide in the cracks. Check undersides of the leaves too.
It’s worth repeating that if you have problems with slugs it really is worth having a bit of a tidy-up, especially dead and dying vegetation close to vulnerable plants. However, remember to leave some corners of the garden less disturbed. A woodpile at the bottom end, well away from prize bedding plants, will provide a habitat for all kinds of friendly creatures. If you’re lucky you might even provide a home for a hedgehog, the best ally imaginable in the War on Slugs.