Thursday, May 10, 2012

Slug Patrol

This is a post reprint for May 6-12 International Compost Awareness Week. This important educational program is sponsored by the US Composting Council, with the theme of Compost! …Replenish the Earth for Generations, and supported by the Compost Council of Canada, with the theme of Give Back to the Earth … COMPOST!

Now that my garden's in, I want to keep it healthy. One of my major problems is slugs. They thrive in dark moist corners and come out to munch on my lettuce and juicy red strawberries. I have several organic gardening books, but the best is a pamphlet called The Basic Book of Organic Gardening (1988) by Rodale Press of Emmaus PA. I found it for $2.00 in a used book store, but it's value is much more! It includes a list of the "Terrible 26" pests with organic solutions for their control, tips on composting, and organic materials you can use to enrich garden soil. I'm always pulling it off my shelf to make gardening decisions.

One of their solutions for slugs and snails is crushed egg shells. It seems that their soft bodies can't take crawling over sharp objects like egg shells. Now that I've planted my new bareroot strawberries, I don't want to share their fruits with the hungry little buggers. Each time Wayne and I have eggs for breakfast, I wash the shells and put them in a plastic basket to dry. This makes them easier to crush with nice sharp edges.

After the shells are dry, I put them in a plastic bag, zip it shut, and apply pressure to crush them. I leave the pieces large enough to have lots of rough edges to discourage those soft little tummies from crossing over. And those persistent enough to try scrape their bellies and die from dehydration. Not a very pleasant thought, but it's a necessary evil.

I started with a section of berries that looked like they would be early producers. If I can discourage the slugs from taking up residence, maybe the developing berries will have a better chance. Plus, the garden gets the added benefit of calcium as the shells decompose. A win-win, except for the poor slugs I guess.

Hey Wayne, what do you want for breakfast? How about eggs? We've still got one and a half strawberry beds to go. Eat up!!

If you want to get a copy of this pamphlet, but can't find, it's available online through Happy slug hunting! - Margy


  1. When I lived in Britannia Beach I had a real problem with slugs. I tried everything including egg shells. The only problem was I had to start collecting egg shells a good year ahead of time. It's a never ending war, especially if you try to fight a "green" battle. Hopefully you will win this one.

  2. You can also set a bowl of beer out if you like. The slugs like it for some reason, will come and drink it, and then die from it. You don't have to pour it on the ground or anything, they will come to the bowl. I don't know if that's a natural solution, but I don't think it'll harm the lake, or you, or anything but the slugs really.

  3. Good luck with them! I have given up on veggie gardens. We just do not have enough garden space with sun.

  4. Thanks Margaret and uninvoked - Yes, it takes a long time to save enough shells. But I'm game for anything that might work. I've heard about the beer trick, but haven't tried it. It just hurts me to think of them guzzling my brew. I might consider letting them have the strawberries instead. - Margy

  5. i also use crushed egg shells as a snail and slug deterrent. It works too.