Do you see irregular holes and smooth bites out of the leaves in your garden? And silvery “slime” trails on the leaves of your plants?
You likely have slugs or snails in your garden.
In the spring of 2015, we saw more slugs and snails in Urban Farm Co. gardens than we ever had seen before. Slugs and snails both thrive under high moisture conditions, so all the rain we had throughout April and May brought with it a boom in the slug population.
Slug injury to plants is sometimes difficult to diagnose because slugs hide during the day. But if left alone, slugs or snails can devastate an entire vegetable crop in just a few weeks. They prefer tender, leafy crops, but will eat just about anything. Smaller leaves may be eaten entirely while only the edges of larger leaves may be eaten. The presence of slime trails usually is the best indication of slug activity. You may also be able to find slugs hiding on the underside of leaves (especially early in the morning or late in the evening).
Three ways to get rid of slugs:
- Slugs thrive in moist climates, so they will be hiding in any area of the garden that stays particularly wet: under rocks and bricks, under thick vegetation, or near an area that is heavily irrigated. One of the best ways to get rid of slugs in your garden is to reduce the relative humidity in the garden by cutting back on watering, weeding out unnecessary plant growth, and cleaning up areas that trap and hold onto moisture.
- Slugs can be “trapped” and killed in the garden. To trap slugs, place a wide-mouth, shallow jar of beer in the garden over night, buried up to its neck so the beer is flush with the soil. The slugs will be drawn to the beer and drown. Remove the trapped slugs every morning and repeat the process every day until the population shrinks.
- Slugs can also be killed with Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth sprinkled on the surface of the soil or directly on the plants themselves. The physical structure of the diatomaceous earth (on a microscopic level) will cut the slugs and kill them. Be cautious when applying Diatomaceous Earth that you don’t inhale it. If you apply it directly to your plants, just be sure to wash them with water before you eat them!