We’ve all been there. Planted out bedding plants or veg seedlings, only to find what we’ve done is put out slug food….

Having this week planted out my broad beans from the greenhouse, here is part 2 of my experiences trying out all the supposed ways to tackle the pesky pests that like to munch on them.

Ferric phosphate:

The organic alternative to blue pellets. Not bad for ‘surface’ slugs, but won’t affect those that stay underground and eat your root veg.


I’ve found a ring of holly/berberis/pine needles around a single plant does seem to have a deterrent effect. Again, in a bed, they can tunnel underneath.


Microscopic creatures that infect slugs with a fatal disease. Natural, harms nothing else, and works on below-surface slugs. Downside: repeat applications needed, and not so great on clay soils.


Slugs eat them, they swell up, the slugs die. Downside: You get porridge when it rains. And seems rather cruel.


Also cruel. They may be a nuisance, but they didn’t ask to be slugs/snails and they are only doing what comes naturally.

Sandpaper/scouring pads/steel wool:

All cheap alternatives to copper to put round pots. The downsides for all forms of barrier include the fact that unless your pots are in total isolation, snails will simply climb something nearby and abseil in on the foliage.


Put on the rubber gloves and pick them off your plants. Downside: takes a lot of time, and you don’t get the ones underground.

Wool pellets:

I like these. They improve moisture retention, keep weeds down, and release nutrients into the soil. They also seem to be the most-effective deterrent to slugs, which have been witnessed retreating from them! And they smell of farmyards (to me, that’s a nice thing!) Apart from cost, the only specific downside is having to keep my dog away from till the sheep smell wears off, as otherwise he rolls on the plants.

UPDATE: Two cucumber seedlings in the middle of wool pellets have been totally munched to stalks.

Slugs will always find a way

In short, barriers may work on the surface. But unless you cover every inch of garden, slugs/snails will find a way under/over/round them.
Killers are either toxic, need repeat use (expensive), or are cruel or revolting.

Last year, I fortified a veg bed with netting, copper pipe, copper tape, beer traps, sharp grit, egg shells, sandpaper, scouring pads, and ‘slug mats’.

And my pea and bean plants were still munched.

The best answer, if you don’t want to waste a lot of time and money in a never-ending battle, is simply to grow plants they don’t like eating!

You can find part 1 here.

4 thoughts on “Slugs – more ways to deter them

    1. Berberis is a good idea; small leaves so you could pack them without gaps, but would still be sharp. I suspect a carpet of pine needles might not be prickly enough, as it’s only the ends that are sharp.

      Liked by 1 person

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