Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Copper, Coffee & Beer...

Armed with a bag full of copper tape, cans of bitter, plastic bottles and a steely resolve, I set off to the allotment after work last night fully geared up for urban gardening warfare. My runner beans have been taking such a battering over the past couple of weeks that I decided to raid Google and the London Vegetable Garden's various Social Media outlets for advice on dealing with my mollusc menaces.

Now, in keeping with the organic theme of my urban gardening project, I do not want to use any chemicals or slug pellets yet. With this in mind, I asked followers of the London Vegetable Garden's Twitter account for their organic remedies, to which copper tape, beer traps and coffee grounds emerged as the popular consensus – a huge thank you to everyone who helped me.

So, upon arrival at the allotment last night (a 4-mile run all round), I knelt down on the grass and started constructing plastic bottle shelters for the baby runner bean plants. I attached a ring of copper tape to each bottle top, as shown below, and then fixed these into place with bits of old bamboo cane.

Now, for those of you not au fait with the merits of copper tape (and admittedly, nor was I until I sough the advice of various gardeners), a slug's mucus (slime) reacts with copper to cause a tiny electric shock, which understandably, causes the slug to give up on its quest for your crops! Whilst this has left part of my allotment looking like an episode of Doctor Who, I'm now hopeful that this will deter any slugs from munching on my plants!

Another age-old technique for deterring slugs from your crops is to lay out beer traps. The premise is simple: attracted by the smell of the beer, slugs and snails will first seek this out, crawling into the trap and not being able to climb back out again. At least they die happy! Using a knife to cut out the bottom halves of water bottles, I sunk these into the soil so that the lip was level with the topsoil and then proceeded to fill these up with cheap beer. I used Tesco value bitter (4 cans for 97p) and hope to check back in a few days to see if I've had any visitors to my pop-up pub!

Finally, I have been collecting coffee grounds from the coffee machine at work, storing these in a plastic bag ready for the allotment. Needless to say, what with this activity, and purchasing cans of Tesco value beer in Richmond, I have been receiving some very strange looks this week! Anyway, I ringed the runner bean plot with old coffee grounds, as apparently slugs detest these too, so I'm hoping that now I have taken more than enough precautions!

Let battle commence...

P.S. Any slug solutions you have had success with would be gratefully received! Simply leave a comment on this post for all to see, join the conversation on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook or join the brand spanking new Urban Gardeners' network.


  1. Thanks for the reminder. Copper tape had been on my list, but I keep forgetting it. I've heard it works wonderfully. Good luck with yours!

  2. Thanks Laura! It was £4.99 for a 4m roll, so could be expensive if used on a large-scale, but also, could be worth it in the long-run of your pest problem is serious! Keep an eye on the London Vegetable Garden blog, as I shall report my findings within the next week - hopefully they'll be successful ones!

  3. Another simple organic remedy uses oranges or grapefruit. Cut the oranges in half, squeeze them (you can drink the juice yourself) and then put the peel halves down on the ground near your slug problem. The slugs will crawl under the orange halves for refuge - and all you need to do is pick them off and dispose of how you wish. I've tried it and it really does work! Mark @

  4. I really enjoyed this post. Very informative but lots of humour. Hopefully my balcony will be immune from slugs but i am storing up knowledge for when i expand into the garden.

    PS I hope your slugs dont mind cheap bitter, they might want the real thing for their happy ending

  5. @Mark

    Ihaven't heard that one before, but will be sure to give it a go - many thanks for the tip!


    I've just been up to the allotment and had a look - judging from the amount of visitors (blog post to follow very shortly), they're not fussy regarding beer brand at all!

  6. Do try Outslugs.
    This consists of green plastic troughs (straight lengths and corners) which you fill with a white powder (supplied). Place your barrier around your plot. Slugs will not cross it. This is the only thing that has worked for me. Don't give up.

  7. Might have to give this a go myself, slugs have always been a problem around my neck of the woods



Related Posts with Thumbnails