Slugs — Strawberry Plants, Home Guides, SF Gate

Slugs & Strawberry Plants

Nothing is more disappointing than waiting patiently for the first strawberries of the season to ripen, only to discover that they’ve been savaged by slugs just before the fruit was ready to be picked. Many types of slugs roam the strawberry garden at night, but fortunately they can all be eliminated using the same methods. Rarely will slugs be deterred by a single change, but by combining several methods you can achieve a slug-free strawberry patch in no time.


Slugs are elongated, soft-bodied mollusks, often appearing in shades of brown or black. They travel along your garden on a bed of mucus that leaves silvery trails behind them. Slugs attack tender strawberry fruits, creating holes that opportunistic insects use to cause further damage. When slugs attack leaves, they feed with a rasping motion, leaving ragged openings behind.

Environmental Management

When slugs become problematic, clean up any debris, leaves or other organic matter that might be creating hiding spots for them. Check your irrigation — slugs require wet conditions to thrive, so irrigate less frequently if water tends to pool in your garden. Early in the season, some growers place plastic mulches around their strawberries to deter slug activities by heating the soil using the sun. At night, go out into the garden and pick slugs off the strawberries by hand, dropping them into a bucket of soapy water as you go along.


Perhaps the most popular method of slug control is exclusion. Commercial copper slug barriers are very effective when used properly and kept free of dirt and other debris. Copper interacts with the slime produced by the slug, resulting in nervous system symptoms that cause the slug to back away from the barrier. Other barriers that work for very dry areas include diatomaceous earth and wood ashes, though they lose all effectiveness if they get wet. Pile such abrasives 1 inch high and 3 inches wide in a solid, unbroken line around your strawberry plants.


Traps can be effective if the bait is changed often and your slug victims aren’t left lying in the traps too long. Use a shallow pie plate, or other long shallow container, as a trap (commercial traps are also available) — bury it so that the rim is even with the ground. Fill it about halfway with beer and allow it to stand. Slugs attracted to the smell of fermentation will fall into the trap and drown.


Slug baits are somewhat controversial, since many are toxic to humans and pets. Slug baits containing iron phosphate, however, are safe for everyone except slugs and snails. Sprinkle the baits around affected plants or along slime trails. Wait several days, then check the garden at night for evidence of slug activity. Even if they are still crawling around, they will not be feeding anymore. Iron phosphate sometimes takes a few days to kill slugs. Replace your bait weekly, or any time it rains, until all feeding has ceased.

References (5)

About the Author

Kristi Waterworth started her writing career in 1995 as a journalist for a local newspaper. From there, her meandering career path led to a 9 1/2 year stint in the real estate industry. Since 2010, she’s written on a wide range of personal finance topics. Waterworth received a Bachelor of Arts in American history from Columbia College.

How to stop slugs eating young plants

We reveal the best ways to stop slugs eating young, vulnerable plants like hostas and delphiniums.

Slugs are active all year, but they’re a particular problem in spring, when there’s plenty of young growth for them to eat.

Tell-tale signs of slug damage are irregularly-shaped holes in leaves, stems, flowers, tubers and bulbs, and silvery slime trails.

There are many options for controlling slugs, and if you combine a few methods, you should keep them under control if you start the process in spring.

Protect seedlings, new growth on most herbaceous plants, and all parts of susceptible plants, such as delphiniums and hostas.

Organic slug pellets, made of ferric phosphate, are just as effective as non-organic ones but are less harmful to wildlife, or you can try nematodes. You could also try going out at night with a torch and bucket to pick slugs off by hand.

Discover four more ways to stop slugs eating young plants, below.

Organic slug pellets, made of ferric phosphate, are just as effective as non-organic ones but are less harmful to wildlife.

Use copper barriers

Copper barriers are effective slug deterrents – if a slug tries to cross one it receives an ‘electric shock’, forcing it back. Put copper rings around vulnerable plants, or stick copper tape around the rim of pots.

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Let them eat bran

Slugs love bran and will gorge on it. They then become bloated and dehydrated, and can’t retreat to their hiding places, making them easy pickings for birds. Make sure the bran doesn’t get wet, though.

Mulch with grit

Slugs find horticultural grit uncomfortable to travel over. Mulch around the base of plants in the ground and in pots – it looks attractive and helps keep compost moist and weeds down.

Use beer traps

Make a slug trap using cheap beer – they’re attracted to the smell. Do this by sinking a half-filled container into the ground, with the rim just above soil level. Cover with a loose lid to stop other creatures falling in. Empty regularly.

All About Strawberry Towers

A strawberry tower can be an attractive garden centerpiece. It keeps the plants off the ground and safe from slugs. The vertical growing area allows you maximize your space and makes it easier to deal with runners. Commercial strawberry towers are available or, if you are a DIY fan, you can build your own with minimal difficulty.

Strawberry Tower – the Concept

A strawberry tower is simply a way to grow strawberries vertically. The tower contains all the soil the plants need and can be watered with drip irrigation. The tower can be set on a patio or deck or placed in the garden. A great space-saver, some towers can accommodate as many as 100 plants. That’s the equivalent of a 60-foot row of strawberries grown in the garden.

Growing Strawberries

No matter what tower you choose, remember these basics:

  • Strawberries will grow well in USDA Zones 3 to 11; plant three weeks after the last frost.
  • The plants prefer light, slightly acidic soil.
  • Strawberries need regular water but don’t like soggy soil.
  • Fertilize regularly for best crops and healthy plants.
  • Always give strawberries full sun at least six hours a day. More is better.

The Shape of a Tower

The only consistent thing about a strawberry tower’s shape is that it’s basically a vertical planter. Many are shaped like tall, thin pyramids. One form is a straight, vertical, round tower with niches for each plant. A homemade form consists of a large piece of PVC drainage pie with holes drilled in the sides. You can even find towers set up to grow strawberries hydroponically or make a small one from a five-gallon bucket.

Wooden Stair-Step Tower

Plans for this kind of tower are easy to find on the internet. Think of this kind of tower as a pyramid; each step becomes a planting bed. The steps have no tops and each set of steps is slightly smaller than the one below it. The vertical board for each step can be removed, making it easy to replace soil once the nutrients become exhausted.

Commercial Towers

Commercial towers may be made of ceramic or plastic. Sometimes called stackable towers or vertical planters, they ofter have interlocking sections so you can make them smaller or larger as desired. Plastic towers have the advantage that they are lighter, but ceramic towers are very durable. However, ceramic towers are also more expensive.

Pipe Towers

The pipe tower offers the best option in terms of space saving, as it only takes up its diameter. A six-inch piece of PVC pipe is a standard size but you could go larger. It will be more stable if fastened to a plywood base. You drill holes in the pipe and fill it with soil. It is typically watered from the top, which is left open for access, or with drip irrigation.

How Many Plants to a Tower?

The number of plants to a tower will depend on the style and size of the tower. The pipe tower mentioned above has about 100 holes per five-foot tube. This system allows you to grow the most plants in the smallest amount of floor space. A typical stackable five-tier planter will hold 20 plants. A home-built wooden tower that is 18 inches on each side can accommodate about 90 plants.

Choosing Plants For a Strawberry Tower

June bearing, ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberries can all be grown in a strawberry tower. June bearers put out a lot of runners once they’re done producing fruit, which means extra effort to trim them. Ever-bearing and day-neutrals produce fewer runners. However, June bearers will give you the biggest crop and the biggest berries in a single large harvest.

Irrigation in a Strawberry Tower

The easiest way to water a strawberry tower – gravity being what it is – is from the top down. You can use a single sprayer or dripper positioned on the top of the tower. Some people run a small diameter soaker hose through the center of the tower, placing soil around it to hold it in place. You could also use a drip system with an emitter in each crevice or shelf of the planter.

Problems and Disadvantages

First, these towers are heavy – don’t expect to move them once they’re full of soil and plants. Towers with a broad base are fairly stable, but the PVC pipe should be anchored – ideally top and bottom. If you bump this kind of tower it could easily go over and smash. Sometimes watering tubes can get clogged. Wooden towers should be treated to resist moisture.

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How to get rid of slugs on cabbage, pepper and other vegetables, as well as berries?

In high season, gardeners and gardeners have to deal with many different problemsstarting from weeding and removing the ubiquitous weeds and ending with the fight against various pests.

And some of them can be called a disaster, because because of their voracity and insatiability, they able to harm many commercial crops.

One of them is a slug, a clam, whose «diet» includes more than a hundred cultivated plants. He is always willing to eat stalks, buds, leaves and the fruits of many vegetables, so every self-respecting gardener should know: how to get rid of this annoying and unwanted «neighbor.»

general information

The first sign of the presence of slugs in the garden are small holes with traces of silver color appearing on the leaves of vegetable and fruit crops. In nature, there are many types of slugs.

At the same time, these pests give the greatest preference to plants with large juicy leaves, for example, cabbage or beets, eating not only their green part, but also the fruits themselves.

In addition, slugs are very fond of ripe strawberries and strawberries, and even tomatoes and potatoes that are not very attractive for many other pests. You can fight them with chemical and folk remedies.

How to fight?

On cabbage

Cabbage slugs and caterpillars can be a real disaster for the gardener. Cabbage pests can be viewed on the photo. So, slugs on cabbage: how to deal with them? You can poison them such ways:

  1. Metaldehyde. The granules of this pesticide must be scattered in the beds with vegetables and berry bushes. Slugs eat it and soon die from acute intestinal poisoning. This tool is considered the most effective.
  2. Slaked lime and copper sulfate in powder form. After watering or rain they pollinate the cabbage spacing. Caustic substances, hitting the clam’s belly, cause severe burns on his tender skin, causing the slug to die. Such treatments are best performed during the period of high activity of slugs, falling in the evening.
  3. Oven ash and bleach.
  4. Tobacco dust, etc.

What the slugs look like on cabbage, see photo below.

Folk ways:
How to treat cabbage from slugs?

    Exhausted beer. To do this, near the heads you need to place plastic cups, half filled with beer, dug them into the ground for stability.
    As early as the morning after such an operation, you will see dead pests who regale a frothy drink.

The procedure must be repeated two or three times, and slugs can be safely forgotten until the end of the season;
Rind of grapefruit. In half of the skin, removed from an exotic fruit, make small holes-entrances and place them throughout the site.

The slugs lured in by their pleasant scent will climb into such traps, but they will not be able to get out of them. So in the morning it will be necessary only to collect them and destroy;

  • If cabbage is eaten by slugs: what to do? You can use roofing material, trim boards and pieces of burlap. These traps must be placed on vegetable beds and leave for a day. When the slugs crawl there for the «night», you need to collect them and destroy.
  • On pepper

    Often the slug eats leaves of sweet bell pepper, eating huge holes in them, which causes great damage to plants and negatively affects their development and yield. Thus, the slugs on the peppers cause great damage to the gardener.

    Protection is as follows:

    1. Preparations based on metaldehyde («Thunderstorm», «Meta»). Such a «treat» will attract the mollusks and lead them to inevitable death. In addition, metaldehyde-based chemicals have low toxicity. and do not harm the environment, including earthworms that inhabit the beds.
    2. Superphosphate. To achieve the desired effect, the peppers should be powdered with this fertilizer, taking it at a rate of 30-40 mg / m3.

    Slugs on pepper: how to deal with them in folk ways?

    • A solution of white vinegar. To prepare the working solution is taken ½ cup of vinegar per 10-liter bucket of water. Spray the plants themselves and the soil beneath them. It is best to do this in the evening when the pests go to feed;
    • Boiling water. The soft, tender body of slugs is very afraid of fever. Moreover, even 40 degrees Celsius that are harmless to many plants can be destructive for them. So, in order to remove the slugs from bell peppers, they simply need to be poured with water brought to a temperature of +60 degrees Celsius;
    • Eggshell. Another good way to get rid of the «annoying neighbor» in our garden: scatter broken eggshells on the beds, the sharp edges of which injure the delicate skin of mollusks, leaving deep cuts on it. Thus, they will be destroyed in a short time.

    On cucumbers

    One of the most popular crops, grown on many summer cottages are cucumbers. However, their slugs are not avoided, spoiling the quantity and quality of the future harvest. In most cases, they choose young fruits, hence the question arises: How to protect yourself from slugs on young cucumbers?

    And they feel completely at ease not only in the open field, but also in greenhouses and greenhouses.

    That is, gardeners are faced with a rather serious problem: how to preserve and protect vegetables, to get a good crop of cucumbers in the shortest possible time?

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    This requires the following measures:

    1. Regular inspection of plants and cleanliness in the greenhouse. It should not contain plant waste, pieces of covering material and other debris. Thus, it is possible to prevent the appearance of slugs and other pests in it.
    2. The construction of obstacles to the advancement of mollusks. A good option: clean river sand, which will make their movements even slower and more difficult.
    3. Creating shelter traps from old rags, burdocks, boards and pieces of cardboard.

    In difficult cases, chemical treatment is recommended, with using preparations with metaldehyde.

    On tomatoes

    Tomatoes are also one of the favorite «dishes» of slugs, which they eat with great appetite and hunting.

    Therefore, the most important task of any gardener is the prompt and competent decision of the question: How to remove these unpleasant creatures from your site?

    You can do this as follows:

    • spreading dried nettles under tomato plants, which these pests fear like fire. Such a simple manipulation will discourage them from trying to «attempt» on these plants;
    • making for the slugs «obstacle strip» of ash and slaked lime;
    • watering garden crops infusion of garlic or onions, which the mollusks cannot bear «to the spirit»;
    • prevent thickening landings. The optimal landing scheme: 60×70 and 70×70 cm.

    On potatoes

    The ubiquitous and almost omnivorous slugs do not bypass the side and another vegetable, enjoying great love and respect of many gardeners. This is, of course, potatoes, foliage and tubers which they eat, causing great harm to plants.

    That is, it is very important to know how to protect this agricultural crop and, if necessary, quickly remove from it a voracious pest.

    To remove a slug on potatoes, you can use one of the simple but effective ways, for example:

    1. Sprinkle potato tops with tincture of wormwood.
    2. Placing between bushes leaves and roots of horseradish, which will scare away the pests.
    3. Scattered on the beds finely crushed river shells.

    When fighting a shellfish in this way, it’s necessary to keep an eye on so that in the “rough obstacle” no loopholes were formed, along which the pest can easily penetrate to potatoes and other plants.

    On strawberry

    If slug treats potatoes and tomatoes rather cool and eats them in fairly rare cases, he eats juicy, ripe strawberries with great pleasure, see the photo on the right.

    Often on the pitted and deformed fruits, The pests that appeared on the beds after a night hunt are familiar enough to almost every gardener.

    What to do in such cases? Of course, fight. Moreover, there are very simple ways that allow you to get rid of slugs on strawberries quickly and efficiently.

    • land mulching between berry bushes with conifer needles (best spruce). Despite their voracity, these mollusks will not risk getting to them by the prickly «pine carpet» and your landing will be safe;
    • seating around the perimeter of strawberry beds and in the center of parsley, which is an excellent deterrent to the pest;
    • processing of berry bushes with a strong solution of table salt.

    On cherry

    Fight Cherry Slugs You can use the so-called «sweet traps» made from jars or boxes of sour cream or yogurt, filled with kvass, fruit juice or juice, and fixed around the trunk of a tree.

    Climbing into such traps they can’t get out of there so they will only need to collect and destroy. Update traps need to do every day, in the morning.

    Useful tips

    The favorite habitat of slugs are soils with strong moisture, overgrown with thick grass in which they hide from the sun’s rays. So, their appearance in the garden can be prevented by diverting standing water from the backyard plot and removing excess vegetation from it.

    That is, the best prevention of combating these pests will be regular weeding and mowing grass on the edges of the site. It is also necessary to clean household and construction debris into it in a timely manner, since slugs like to settle on its heaps.

    Good help in the fight against annoying clams their natural enemies can render: animals eating them with great pleasure.

    Want to know how to get slugs out of the lot once and for all? Settle a hedgehog, gray or green toads on it, and this question will be solved by itself.

    In addition, garden crops can be planted with collecting plants that the pest does not like. These include mint, wormwood, lemon balm and tansy.


    In a word, fight with slugs on the plotor in the basement, it will be sufficiently effective provided regular and high-quality care for him.

    If the «cunning villain» still managed to penetrate your garden, you can get rid of him without much difficulty with one of the popular methods of the people.

    Almost all of them are quite simple, safe and effective. Well, in severely neglected cases, you can use chemicals that contain metaldehyde. And you can forget about unpleasant neighbors once and for all.

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