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How to Keep Slugs Out of Vegetable Gardens

Swiss Chard in Vegetable Bed Go Gingham I love killing slugs. Is it wrong that I enjoy destroying them so much? I’m going with no. Those slimy creatures slither and munch my precious veggies growing in the garden. In the early spring, they are notorious. Their goal? To set up shop in vegetable gardens and multiply.

“Get off of my vegetables you slimy, slugs! I’m coming to get you. You can run, but you can’t hide!” Actually you can’t run. Call me slug hunter. My equipment checklist: head lamp, reading glasses, tweezers, old coffee can filled with salt for depositing the slimy creatures – and – the newest addition to the arsenal of keeping slugs out the vegetables – copper tape. The copper tape provides a “mild but unpleasant sensation” to the slug. Just the way I like it…

Vegetable garden with copper tape Go Gingham

We applied it to the top of our raised garden beds. (Here’s how we built the raised vegetable beds.) Yes, we could have tried chemicals and poison but these methods work, they’re all natural, and they’re good for the earth. Try it!

How to Keep Slugs Out of Vegetable Gardens

1. Buy copper tape – it’s usually in the gardening department but check the roofing section, too. The tape we bought was in the gardening section, fairly wide, and expensive. We cut it down and got more pieces out of it.

Slugs don't like copper tape Go Gingham

2. Peel off the sticky back from the copper tape and attach it to the beds.

Copper tape on vegetable beds Go Gingham

3. Make sure all gaps in the beds are covered with the copper tape.

Copper tape on raised beds Go Gingham

4. Use a staple gun to make sure it stays put. Hey, we’re talking about slugs here. Only a few staples are needed.

Staple gun on copper tape Go Gingham 5. Remove leaves from vegetables that have been munched and keep a close eye on your garden. Slugs that are trapped within your raised beds will continue to dine and munch on your plants – until you remove them.

Swiss Chard Vegetable Bed Go Gingham

6. Check your beds when the garden is wet and the light is changing. In the early morning or early evening when the the light changes is when slugs are out. Using tweezers, pluck them off your vegetables and cut them in half or drop them in salt. Do not compost them – they’ll multiple and continue to munch on your vegetables. (Read more about composting here.)

Copper roofing tape garden Go Gingham
Leftover copper tape from roofing projects works well, too.

These same techniques apply to snails as well. Examine your garden for signs of these slithery creatures and get rid of them. They may slither but if they can get into your garden, they will live, munch, and destroy veggie starts or plants. Setting beer traps can help collect slugs in the garden but the copper tape should keep them out of those beds – for good!

What creatures do you have in your garden? How do you protect your vegetables and plants?

Go Gingham related links:

Saving seeds and reusing them in the garden!
How to stake tomato plants – a very stylishly frugal method!
My non-gardener-gardening-strategy – yes, non gardeners can fake it
Three easy herbs to grow – you won’t be able to kill these, I promise!
Growing vegetables in small spaces – I call it “sky gardening”


8 thoughts on “How to Keep Slugs Out of Vegetable Gardens

  1. Are you able to garden already? If so, lucky you! We’ve done the beer thing for slugs before–I’ve never heard of copper tape, thanks for the tip (although all things slimy are turfed over to my hubby …).


    1. We still have Swiss chard, kale, arugula, and one other green (can’t remember name!) from last season and they’ve wintered over well. Our winter has been super mild but the hearty greens usually go all the way through until spring. The kale is going to seed now and I’m going to save the seeds and dry them to plant next year.
      Kris, it’s a team effort here on the slugs! We all enjoy plucking them with tweezers and salting them. I’m considering a routine for the snails that my neighbor has got me thinking about. It involves eating them but they need to dine on corn meal for several days first. I’ll keep you posted!! πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for writing in, Kris!!


  2. When we bought our first house in the Bay Area we started a vegie garden next to a hedge that (unbeknownst to us) housed tons of snails (which are as obnoxious as slugs) I went to battle with the slimy creatures by drowning them in salted slime (the salt makes them exude their slime so if you get a lot of snails or slugs you get a lot of slime) I ended up with nightmares of slimy slugs coming to get me – kind of like the old Blob movie…
    Snails have that protective shell which makes them less obnoxious when picking them up by hand. I usually throw them into the street thus avoiding slime nightmares.
    The banana slug is considered “cool” in California and one popular politician wanted to declare it to be the state mollusk (or what ever it is). When we moved to Corvallis I found huge brown slugs (equal in size to the banana slug) in our garden and asked a friend if they were a special type of slug like the banana slug. My friend was kind and just said no, the huge brown slugs are not special.


    1. Meg, true – those huge brown slugs are not special – at when they’re big, it means they’re munching on my vegetables!
      I have noticed snails in our yard over the last 5-6-years and we never saw them previously. I don’t like it but you are right, those can be picked up with fingers but not the slimy-slugs. That slime is tough to get off fingers. Yuck!
      Thanks for writing in, Meg! πŸ™‚


  3. My garden is still covered with at least two feet of snow, and we’re currently having a snowstorm!

    Slugs and snails! I can’t stand the things! We have more snails here than slugs, but so far they haven’t really been a bother in our vegetable garden. Last year was the first year I planted anything leafy (kale) and I did have a problem with small green caterpillars that grew into large, disgusting caterpillars! I will confess to a nano-second of a Buddhist-like twinge of remorse (and unfortunately a bit of squeamishness too), but then common sense kicked in and I did manage to slide them off with a popsicle stick and squish them! I will definitely remember the copper trick, should slugs decide to move into our raised beds πŸ™‚


    1. Marian, those little caterpillars are on our greens as well. I used to get upset about it but now I just cook the greens without even washing them well – maybe a little rinse if they’re dirty from lots of rain. To me, we’re getting a little protein by eating those bugs and I’m fretting less about the bugs. I have not told my kids about the bugs on the greens and how they just gobble them up! πŸ™‚ Also, cutting the greens into small bite size pieces and freezing makes quick work of bug removal – and that’s what I toss into smoothies in the morning.
      Keep up the good work with growing and squishing bugs! As long as we’re not using chemicals in our gardens, I figure we’re good!!
      Thanks, Marian!


    1. Agreed! We never used to have them either. I did a quick review of the veggies this morning – nothing in sight – slug or snail. This dry weather seems to have scared them underground but now I need to water practically! Who knew?!


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