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5 Non-Toxic Ways to Deter Slugs and Snails from Eating Your Vegetable Plants

Slug on leaf - AllotMe
Often considered a gardener's greatest foe.. the garden slug

As a gardener, one of the biggest challenges you face is protecting your vegetable plants from slugs and snails. These slimy creatures can wreak havoc on your garden, leaving behind a trail of destruction and a trail of slimy slime. Fortunately, there are many non-toxic ways to deter slugs and snails from your vegetable plants, so you can enjoy a bountiful harvest without worrying about the damage that these pests can cause.

1. Creating Barriers: Copper Tape, Eggshells, and Hair

One of the most effective ways to deter slugs and snails is to create physical barriers around your plants. This can be done in a number of ways, including using copper tape, eggshells, or even hair. Copper tape works by creating a barrier that slugs and snails will not cross, due to a reaction with their slime. Eggshells can be crushed and scattered around plants, providing a rough surface that slugs and snails will avoid crawling over. Hair can also be used as a barrier, as it creates a rough and scratchy surface that pests will avoid.

Copper tape around a courgette / zucchini plant
A strip of copper tape around your plants can help to keep slugs at bay

2. Repelling with Garlic, Peppermint, and Beer: The Natural Way

While physical barriers can be effective, they are not foolproof. Slugs and snails can still find their way around them, especially if they are hungry enough. To make your plants less appetizing to these pests, try using natural repellents like garlic, peppermint, or even beer. Garlic can be crushed and sprayed around plants, while peppermint oil can be added to water and sprayed directly onto the leaves. Beer can be used as a trap, as slugs and snails are attracted to the smell and will crawl into a container filled with beer, where they will drown. Remember to submerge the container into the soil, and to use cheap beer!

Beer trap for killing slugs and snails - AllotMe
Beer traps might seem brutal, but they can be very effective!

3. Dryer Soil, Happy Plants: Reduce Moisture in Your Garden

Another way to deter slugs and snails is to create a habitat that is less appealing to them. This can be done by reducing the amount of moisture in your garden, as these pests thrive in damp conditions. To do this, make sure your soil is well-draining and avoid over-watering your plants. You can also create a drier environment by using a layer of gravel or sand around your plants, which will help to absorb moisture from the soil. Slugs and snails also don't like jagged or rough surfaces, so utilising wood chips for pathways around your vegetable beds can often be a deterrent.

4. Companion Planting to the Rescue

Companion planting is another effective way to deter slugs and snails, as certain plants can repel these pests while attracting beneficial insects. For example, planting herbs like thyme or rosemary can help to repel slugs and snails, while also attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. Marigolds are also a great companion plant, as they have a strong scent that repels many garden pests.

Strong smelling herbs like thyme, rosemary or mint are great for warding off slugs

5. Clean Garden, Happy Plants: The Importance of Tidiness

Finally, it's important to keep your garden clean and tidy to discourage slugs and snails from taking up residence. Remove any debris, such as fallen leaves or rotting fruit, as these can provide a hiding place for pests. Also, avoid over-fertilising your plants, as this can attract slugs and snails looking for a meal. Another approach is to leave a few well-placed planks of wood around your garden, and search the underside of them regularly to collect up any hiding slugs.

In conclusion, there are many non-toxic ways to deter slugs and snails from your vegetable plants. By creating physical barriers, using natural repellents, creating a less appealing habitat, companion planting, and keeping your garden clean and tidy, you can reduce the damage that these pests can cause. However, it is important to remember that no method is foolproof, and you may need to experiment with different techniques to find what works best for your garden. With a little patience and persistence, you can keep your vegetable plants healthy and thriving, free from the damage caused by slugs and snails.


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