Slugs and Snails

Snails and slugs are the animals that seem to upset gardeners most, tempting many to stray from their organic principles.
UK resident Tiggy Ayoub initiated this page with this question.
Do any of you have a fool proof way of eradicating slugs? My little Japanese Acer tree, which was doing really well with its pretty red leaves is now the target of a serial slug attack and the pellets seem to be losing against the combined forces of monster slugs. They obviously come out at night well after I have given up looking for the little blighters, and wreak havoc on everything, but the acer is favourite, unfortunately. It is in a very tall container which I had hoped would be slug proof. What an idiot. Have tried eggshells, and beer traps too, with some success, but not enough to stop the ravaging, marauding hordes of slimy critters.
Other UK contributors were the first to respond.
Margaret Penfold responded:
I don't think there is a sure fire universal way to deal with slugs.
What I have found works for plants that can stand damp conditions such as hostas and red lobelia is to grow them in pots and stand them in the pond (Slugs can't swim) but make sure no leaf touches the ground outside the pond. How big is your acer? Could you stand the pot on a mound of pebbles in a large basin filled with water?
In some gardens and on some plants coffee slops works, the reason given is that caffeine acts as slug poison. I have a pale yellow primrose "Thelma" that flowers from November to April. The November flowers, however, are usually ruined by slugs but the coffee worked for them this year. (Query - If it is just a question of caffeine tea should work as well but it doesn't seem to.)
Some people find egg shells work but in my garden they are counter productive as my slugs seem to love egg shells.
Getting up at two in the morning to catch the large visible slugs helps but that only leaves room for the small almost invisible ones to get started.
During daylight hours, it is worth lifting stones pieces of wood, pots and other slug and snail hiding places to pick them out by hand but you are bound to miss the smaller ones.
For something special like Tiggy's acer the natural predator approach but it is expensive and by the time it works the acer will probably be eaten. As HYDRA suggests the best defence against slug damage is only to grow plants that slugs won't eat anyway.

Mandi Simons came in with:
There is a web site called green gardener which does organic things for the garden. It is very good and very informative, they also send me a monthly newsletter giving tips on dealing with pests and plant murderers! Give it a go......I have purchased the copper tape and it has now worked for the past two years on the hostas which are in pots. Worth a try. Incidentally I have an expanding family of toads who categorically refuse to eat all of the slugs I try and tempt them with.
Graham from the Welsh borders wrote:
Re slugs. I have managed to keep them under control with pellets and beer. They're a drunken lot and having partaken of a wee drop will fall in and drown. What a way to go.
This still looked like a UK only problem, when Harry Summerton, from Canada, wrote:
There is definitely an advantage to having a "garden " 12 stories above ground level. So far, slugs have not become adept in scaling the brick walls of our high rise. Come to think of it, have never heard the landscapers or others complain about them. The only slugs we might encounter, are replicas of Canadian coins, used by some to defeat the need for hard earned cash to be inserted into parking meters etc. Or, missives fired from firearms.....
Then Edgar Braybrooks from Australia weighed in with:
Slugs and snails! We have them in their thousands and in a normal year after rain it would not be difficult to collect a bucket full of snails. The drought has knocked them back a bit but they will recover quickly. The slugs can be enormous and I am sure that if Mandi's toads tried to swallow one it would probably choke. The chickens will eat small to medium snails but seem to gag a bit at slugs. Slugs appear to be related to snails(the locals sometimes call them shell-backs) so cat and dog-safe snail bait ought to do the trick. Ducks might do a good job on them but they need to be kept outside for this with access to plenty of water.
Tiggy came back with:
I have just picked up, from that wonderful shop, Lakeland Plastics, something that will, hopefully, give the little beggars something to think about. It is by a company named FITO, and is Slug Stoppa Tape. It is an adhesive copper barrier tape that gives slugs and snails a small electric shock when they cross it. It does not, allegedly, kill them, but acts as a deterrent barrier. Hopefully, when the pot has dried out after all this awful wet and blustery weather, it will work. Am planning to try it out tomorrow, so will keep you all posted. I guess this is the same thing Mandi suggested. Perhaps some of you other keen gardeners out there have already tried it. If not, am happy to be the guinea pig.
June 2003 Tiggy reports
The Slug Stoppa Tape is great - can't recommend it highly enough - the little acer tree is flourishing now after such a shaky start and the tape really does look quite cool. ------------------------- Well that seems the answer for protecting single, particularly precious, plants but it might prove an expensive remedy for a bed of cabbages. Has anyone any ideas on that?

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