Beating the slugs

I have been experimenting with a way to stop slugs destroying my seedlings before they get a chance to get going. I bought a roll of copper wire from this link on Ali Express

This is how I use it to protect my seedlings

This is the second year of experimenting and the next photo shows how well it works for me. I have four fibre pots growing mangetout. Two were protected with the copper and two were not. It is clear to see which ones the slugs avoid.

And just to show how crazy the weather is the next photo was taken on April 3rd. No hothouse involved


I’ve also used that, and it’s very effective.

I was researching copper foil (for shielding a guitar) recently, and was amused to see the same product advertised for its anti-snail properties.

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Encourage hedgehogs, they like a nice slug for lunch.


Slugs and worms. All the same. OK which one of you mentioned Boris?

And blackbirds and robins…

I’ve become cautious about using copper in the garden - it’s a biocide:

From google: “Today copper is used as a water purifier, algaecide , fungicide, nematocide, molluscicide as well as an anti-bacterial and anti-fouling agent.”

And I just wonder what it does for the long term health of the garden. I note that someone suggested I drive copper nails into the cut of trunk of a cornus bush I’m trying to get rid of.

ash from the fire is useful around tender plants… when it’s gone cold, of course :wink:
I’ve found slugs and snails don’t like to wander across it… as it clogs up their slipperiness

Copper is toxic, but provided you don’t live in an acid rain area and don’t spread large amounts of finely ground metal around it will likely be fine.


Copper itself isn’t soluble in water. The biocides use copper salts like copper sulphate, which is highly soluble in water. So copper on it’s own isn’t an issue.

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Ash from wood can be good slug / snail prevention but be careful not to upset the ph levels around the plants of the soil, you may stunt the growth or kill the plants you are trying to protect.

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I’m very careful :wink:

The copper sleeve only stays in place until the seedling is well established. It is then cut off. I don’t mind slugs nibbling the odd leaf once it has grown. They can then fatten themselves up as a tasty breakfast for hedgehogs, blackbirds, robins et al.

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Looking at the picture again, do you think they may have taken the label as an invitation?


I wonder if its just the mesh they dont like? I put pieces of old copper plumbing around some bait (beer) and it did not deter the slugs or snails, they just climbed over it. Did the same with copper foil and they didnt mind that either. Might be worth trying one of those stainless steel pan scrubbers opened up into a mesh ring, similar to the photos?


I think pan scrubbers would work out a lot more expensive.

The technique I have found works best is to cut a 10 cm long sleeve of the mesh. Fix the bottom edge of the sleeve to the top of the peat pot with an elastic band and then curl the last 1 cm of the top of the sleeve over to make it difficult for a determined slug to negotiate.

The downside is - the thwarted slugs are now going for my strawberry bed. :frowning:

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:wink: slugs will always need somewhere to go and chomp… :wink:
I tend to only “guard” really tender stuff and leave readily available a specific patch/pot of wild stuff … which they can enjoy chomping through…

I cut plastic bottles into rings and pop them round seedlings. Works great! And no cost as the bottles are generally ones we collect from gîte clients!

I saw that! What calumny!! :joy: The very idea of wantonly buying plastic bottles. Unless they have something useful in them like drain cleaner.

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I then saw your second comment and hoped I’d got away with it. :grin:

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Seems like a good solution to me, although you’d need to collect up the copper before the plants get too big.

I start many of my seeds in a polytunnel. The occasional slug does find its way up the shelves, but I lose very few. Sometimes I need to look underneath the trays to make sure they’re not lurking there during the day.
I find keeping the grass well cut and trimmed around the vegetable beds makes a big difference. Not leaving anything that is slug friendly (sticks, heavy mulch etc.) and then sowing a few more than I need, especially near the edges of the vegetable bed, all helps.

With regards to not leaving anything slug friendly - you can use it to your advantage. Stick an upside down flowerpot by your bed, lifted slightly on one edge, wait until the next day when the sun is out, and you can rehome your newly acquired collection of slugs/snails.