Organic Slug Control (Simple Tips)

organic slug control

Slugs and snails are annoying pests, more so as they are “invisible”. They are rarely seen at work because they come out at night and hide in dark and moist places, mostly underground. I accidentally discovered an organic slug control method that helped me reduce and eventually eliminate slugs from my garden.

Using oranges and grapefruit for slag traps

Initially, I had a problem with a cat from the neighborhood. Mostly in spring when our small city patch is bare and being prepared for new seedlings, the cat would be inspired to dig in and do her business there. I tried several tactics and one was to scatter squeezed out orange halves around the garden. I read somewhere it deters the cats.

Eventually, the cat stopped coming due to oranges, new seedlings planted, or other tricks. But what I discovered when I went to the garden after dark was dozens of snails in each orange half! It took only minute to collect the orange halves with all the snails in them, probably close to hundred.

Now, whenever I make freshly squeezed orange juice, I scatter the halves around the garden edges and pick them later, usually few hours after dark. I just make sure one edge is close to the ground so the slugs have an easy access. Grapefruit halves work as well.

What to do with the slugs?

Up till now, I usually put them all in a plastic bag and threw them in the rubbish bin.

Now that our three chickens are bigger, I’ll try offering the slugs to them. Apparently, some chickens love the snails and the other not – it’s all matter of taste.

Alternatively, they can be kept in a container and offered to the birds.

More organic ways to control slugs and snails

There are other natural and organic methods of slug and snail control available, especially if your garden isn’t close to where you live. Wandering with a torch in a community garden at night for example wouldn’t be the wisest slug control option! Instead you might try this:

Beer trap: mix a little flour with a stale beer and fill a shallow container with the rim 1 or 2 cm above the ground so that slugs and snails can climb. Substitute beer for wine, sugar water or water mixed with yeas.

Coffee spray: make a weak coffee brew with ground coffee and water. Spray the plants.

Pot trap: place a plant pot upside down in a shaded area of the garden away from seedlings and check regularly

Physical barriers: scatter crushed egg shells, sawdust or wood shavings around plants at risk.

Would you like to share your tips on natural control of slugs and snails in the garden? Please do so in the comments!

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  1. We had tons of snails, possibly literally. I used to step one 100 to 300 of them a day before breakfast (often, I didn’t need breakfast after that). We finally got control of the situation by releasing Decollate Snails. It took a while for therm to spread and propagate, but now, several years later, snails are almost completely eliminated from our 4 acres of gardens and orchards.

  2. How mean!

    I cannot believe how cruel gardeners are to “pests”.

    Why not border your garden with copper tape or copper mesh? Then nothing has to die. The snails and slugs get a small shock when crossing it and stay out.

    And crushed eggshells doesn’t work. Snails/slugs eat them for calcium. it doesn’t “cut their bellies” as some people think.

  3. Vesna,

    I dunno if you tried this, but it works for me. To keep cats from crapping in your garden, keep a bottle of water anywhere near the plants. It can even be closed. I keep a few, in the potplants next to the stalks.

    Cats don’t poo or piss where they drink – it’s instinctive. But for some reason, closed plastic bottles of water also counts – go figure 😛


  4. We have long wooden planks laid between our garden rows. Each morning we go out and lift the planks and collect all the slugs that slither under there in the night. It’s gross, but it really works. I have heard that sprinkling a substance called diamataceous earth works, but have not tried it. I also use coffee grounds sprinkled around the plants, as I have heard that these critters avoid caffeine. Copper is a nice idea, but right now it is one of the most expensive metals to obtain, thus making it not very cost effective.

  5. Just put the snails and the slugs elsewhere, already.. no need to kill them, it’s not like they’re tapeworms! 😉

  6. As Bill Mollison is quoted as saying, “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency” Consider adding ducks to your garden they will take care of the snail and slug problem in short order and in turn give you some nice eggs in return.

    1. Hi John,

      The orange halves method does work best in a small garden (unless you own an orange juice factory :-)). Check out the comment at the top, it might work for you too.

  7. I just tried the modified orange method. I cut 1/4″ thick slices and put 3 slices out flat in our back flowerbed. 30 minutes later, had 27 slugs. Dump em in a bag with a bit of salt and gently toss to coat them. Plus you get to keep re-using all supplies for one night as the preserved slugs ain’t crawling out of the bag.

  8. Try spraying the slugs with household ammonia diluted 1:10 with water. Works for me! And ammonia is a fertilizer, isn’t it!

    1. Hi flwerlover,
      unlike naturally occurring ammonia (in soil, air and in urine), man made ammonia is a caustic and hazardous chemical. Wee is a safer ammonia fertilizer :-)!

  9. I tried a method I found in the book Gaia’s Garden. Get a pair of tin snips and cut up tin cans (bean, soup etc.) into collars and place them around the stem of your plants. The galvanic shock they induce keeps the slugs away.

  10. you could just put salt all the way round your little patch of soil,but not to close as it might interfere with your plants.

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