Organic Gardening Tip – Slugs and Toads in the Garden


Slugs have soft and slimy bodies and no legs. They feed at night on many of the flower and vegetable plants in your garden and they rest during the day.  That is why it’s hard at first to identify what insect is causing the damage. I look for a slimy trail that they leave behind.

When you water in the evening the foliage stays wet longer and makes your plants more susceptible to diseases and slugs. I no longer water at night. I water early in the moring before the sun gets hot and dries the ground as fast as I water. By watering ealy the water will soak into the ground and get to the plants roots where it does the most good. Deep watering is better than a shallow watering too. Shallow watering encourages shallow roots and the plants are not as healthy and actually require more water.

Groundcovers and mulches will often provide a good hiding spot for slugs. Use an Oak leaf mulch to deter slugs and snails. For plants that are prone to slug damage I keep mulch away from the very base of the plant and will stake the plants if they grow tall and lay on the ground. (Tomatoes are a good example) You can trap slugs by laying boards in the garden. They will hide under the board and the next day you can lift the board to collect and get rid of them. I use this method once in a while but it’s a lot of work. My nerighbor uses boards successfully but I find by keeping the garden dry at night and picked up from leaves and decaying matter I can control slugs most of the time.You can also break up eggshells and put by the plants base. Slugs will cut their tender bodies on eggshells and stay away from the plants. Eggshells also add needed nutrients to the garden soil.

All bugs and insects are not bad. Ground beetles are considered highly beneficial, with both larvae and adult forms feeding on numerous insects, slugs and snails. Reptiles such as Toads, turtles and snakes all prey on slugs

Toads I have a habit of using Terra Cotta pots to protect small seedlings in the garden in the spring. One year I missed picking up a few pots in an area where I was growing a different vegetable (Prickly Cucumber). The cucumber took off and the area turned into a jungle, even with fencing and trying to grow the plants up. One day I noticed two Terra Cotta pots I had missed and went to move them. They were the home to two  hungry and quite friendly Toads. I left the pots as a home for the toads.

The toads got used to me working in the gardens and I had no bugs near or around the cucumbers. I enjoyed watching them and next year I made sure I left a few Terra Cotta pots in the garden, turned on their sides. And yes, the toads returned!

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