Getting Rid of Garden Slugs...Naturally

Slugs. They're slimy, disgusting, and worst of all, extremely damaging to your garden. Although they do some good things for the ecosystem, like eating decomposing vegetation, they also love to nosh on fresh tasty leaves in my garden. I recently found that the leaves of my sunflowers, basil and some pepper plants had holes that had been eaten out of them. Every day, it got worse and worse. At first, I wasn't sure what was causing it until I caught the culprit. A defiant, creepy slug. Based on the extent of the damage, I knew that sucker had friends...lots and lots of them. (And I soon found them.) I had to act fast. Slugs can DESTROY your garden in no-time.

Slug damage on my sunflower leaves

Slug damage on my sunflower leaves

Slug damage on my basil

Slug damage on my basil

Unless you've got toads and snakes who will take care of the slugs, you're going to have to deal with them another way. I chose a 2-part approach: 

  1. Get them drunk.
  2. Deter them with eggshells.
See the video below to see how I apply these and read more below.

Beer. It's not just for humans any more.

Slugs like beer. They apparently like the "yeastiness" of it and if you leave out a pool of beer for them, they'll dive right in...and die. (If you feel badly about this, you'll be happy to know it happens very, very quickly.) I use crème brûlée dishes and fill them with beer. I put these out one morning last week and immediately, I saw a few crawling in for a swim. When I got home later, the "pool" was crowded. The only beer we had in the house was Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, so I don't blame them for diving in, (it's a pretty good beer), but I replaced it with a cheaper beer that is still drinkable (at least for my husband), a 6-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you're going to get beer for this, get what you might drink that's not too expensive (in case you have leftovers).

Eggshells to Deter Slugs

The way slugs move, they "slither." If they come across something sharp, like the edge of a broken eggshell, they'll likely turn around. I always save eggshells for the garden. They're a great source of calcium (which tomatoes love) and they're also great for this purpose. I just lightly crush the shells and place them around the base of the stems of the plants to keep the slugs from being able to climb up the stem and eat the leaves. If you're trying to keep slugs out of a container that has lots of plants like my box of basil, spread the shells around the perimeter like this:

Surround containers with eggshells to deter slugs from getting to smaller plants.

Surround containers with eggshells to deter slugs from getting to smaller plants.

Looking for more tips? Mike McGrath, host of "You Bet Your Garden" also has up to 17 ways to get rid of slugs. You can check it out here. I subscribe to that podcast (which is really a radio show). He is former editor at Rodale's and knows a lot about many gardening subjects.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine