Using Eggshells as a Slug and Snail Barrier Review — Does it Work?

4 out of 5 leaves

4 out of 5 leaves

In the springtime, when tender sprouts are just coming up, the battle begins between the home gardener and slugs. There are many tools in the battle again garden snails and slugs. Many gardeners prefer natural, non-chemical methods, especially when vegetable gardening. One popular recommendation is to create a slug and snail barrier with crushed eggshells. But do crushed eggshells really deter hungry snails and slugs?

The Good

  • Better for you – no toxic chemicals around you, your kids, pets, or the food you are growing
  • Better for the Earth – as the eggshells break down they add valuable nutrients back into the soil
  • Saves Money – as long as you eat eggs, eggshells are free
  • Easy – spreading crushed eggshells on the ground: nothing complicated here!

The Bad

  • Not a perfect method – makes it harder for slugs to cross, but not impossible.
  • Some slugs live underground, and can surface inside your barrier.
  • Takes a lot of eggshells to create effective barriers
  • Eggshells strewn about the garden don’t really look so nice

My Experience

An eggshell barrier that worked quite well. Just one little nibble on the top leaf. Also, lots of unchewed weeds (sigh...)

I love gardening! This is the second year I have had a backyard vegetable garden, and I’m learning a lot. After failing at planting my own seedlings, I started over by sowing seeds directly into the ground. I waited patiently for the long row of broccoli and four rows of carrot sprouts to appear.

Within a week, the baby broccoli sprouts popped up. Yay broccoli! The next day, the little heart shaped leaves all had nibble marks in them. I had already dispatched the garden snails for the season so I knew the slugs were to blame. I sprinkled some of the “safe” slug bait around my new sprouts trying to lure the slugs away. I’d heard the slug bait was supposed to be irresistible to them, so that the slugs would eat it first. The broccoli survived, but will always have some battle scars.

I sprinkled a good measure of pre-emptive slug bait across my still bare carrot patch, and hoped for the best. It turns out that what slugs actually find completely irresistible is brand new carrot sprouts. Those tiny, slimy monsters ate every single carrot shoot down to the ground within 24 hours of sprouting. Argh! The entire patch was lost (and this was my second carrot planting attempt this season!).

I was still waiting for the zucchini to sprout, and was determined to protect them from the slugs. I had heard that crushed eggshells on the ground can create a barrier that slugs don’t like to cross. They can cross it, but it takes up a lot of extra slime and time to do it (think about walking on a gravel road in your bare feet – totally doable, but you won’t do it if you don’t have to). I saved up some eggshells in the kitchen and layered them thickly around the zucchini just as it was about to break through the surface of the soil. I checked on the sprouts in a couple of days. There was one tiny nibble, but other than that the sprouts were whole! They looked really great, and I can’t wait to harvest my mini zucchinis in a few months.

So do eggshells protect your plants from snails? I would say they do a pretty good job of deterring them. I think this is a good strategy for individual plants, but maybe not for the whole garden. It would take the eggs from a thousand hens to completely cover the surface of our vegetable garden. And even if I wanted to do a barrier around each individual plant, my family would have to be eating frittatas every day for a month. And remember, this method just makes them slug in another direction. It does not actually harm them at all. That’s a review for another day… In the meantime, I’ll be using eggshell barriers for my next attempt at carrots. Here’s hoping the slugs decide one day to eat the WEEDS instead!

Have you tried an eggshell barrier to control snails? What other tricks do you have for keeping snails away from your yummy veggies?

Using Eggshells as Slug Control was a featured post on Simple Lives Thursday!

Shared at Homestead Barnhop, Better Mom MondaysMonday ManiaTeach Me Tuesday, One Project at a Time, Titus 2sday, Living Green Link-up, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Women Living Well, Rural Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource,  Farmgirl Friday, Frugal Friday
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26 Responses to Using Eggshells as a Slug and Snail Barrier Review — Does it Work?

  1. Brettney says:

    I’ve never come across this one before this is awesome!

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Brettney!

    • Dennis says:

      The absolute best is beer in an empty cat food can. Slugs can not resist it, they go n and drown. You then throw out the full can and put down another.

      • Victoria says:

        I’ve got to try this – the slugs are destroying my strawberries!

      • Jan says:

        What kind of beer do you use? I’ve heard of friends trying this and having no luck. I thought, “Maybe it is a type of beer they don’t like”? Also, what size can? The size of a tuna can or more like a regular size canned good?

        • Victoria says:

          I used whatever my husband had in the fridge – Honey Brown , maybe? It was something fancier than Bud or Miller. I used pie plates because that’s what I had on hand. Maybe I’ll try again with tuna-style cans…

  2. HappyMrsBass says:

    I have heard that eggshells help keep slugs away…in fact I just told my MIL that a few days ago. I told her I wasn’t sure how well it worked, so imagine my excitement when I found your post! Thanks for doing the review…4 out of 5 leaves isn’t too bad! I’ll have to try it!
    Would you mind adding your post to my new link-up? I think my readers would find this information helpful! Thanks!
    ( http://www.likeamustardseed.com/2012/05/01/learning-herbs-rosemary-and-a-new-tuesday-link-up/ )

  3. Danielle says:

    thanks so much for sharing this in the barnhop on homestead revival! My 1st year gardening in the PacNw with SLUGS! Ugh! I have plenty of eggshells from my birdies (i also feed them back for calcium) I will try this first thing in the morning! Thank You!

  4. I’ve had really good success (long term as well) with the egg shells deterring slugs. I’ve heard it does actually cut the bottoms of the slugs/snails so it will cut down (no pun intended) the population as well… I actually did a blog post about it working so well and it’s still going strong. We eat a lot of eggs, but found we had plenty of egg shells to put around the perimeter of the garden boxes…

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks for sharing Chara! I’ve been saving up eggshells this week, and should be able to put a nice perimeter around my newly planted carrot patch.

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  8. I have heard a can of beer in the garden draws the slugs, then they fall in and drown, but I haven’t tried it. I hate spending money on alcoholic beverages, but if it is used as a pest removal, that sure seems a good purpose for it! :) My mother used to use it. I like the idea of the eggshells. I may use it around some of my plants that seem more prone to slug damage. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Victoria says:

      I tried the beer with slugs without a lot of success (meaning that I didn’t catch many). But I put an eggshell perimeter around my carrot patch, and the sprouts are up and have lasted for 3 days now!

  9. Rebekah says:

    What a good suggestion. I just noticed several slugs oozing about and realized they might be wanting to chomp on my nasturtiums and Swiss chard…. we eat tons of eggs so this should be easy!

  10. Helen says:

    Heard putting little dishes of beer out works….someone I know swears by it. Did it years ago, but didn’t think it worked much.

    • Victoria says:

      I’ve tried the dishes of beer too, but I’m not not sure if it worked either. Are the slugs supposed to drown in the beer, or get drunk and go off and die somewhere else?

  11. Carol says:

    My sister uses whole half egg shells to deter cabbage moths. If you place them in the garden near your cabbages and cauliflowers, the cabbage moth thinks a larger and more dominant cabbage moth or predator is already there, so they go elsewhere to lay their eggs. She said that it works quite well in her garden.

  12. Kathleen says:

    A pie tin or cake pan filled with beer will attract snails. I have removed cake pans full to the brim with dead snails (slugs?). It works best if the pan is slightly buried, having the rim at ground level. The snails are not picky, they will drown in the cheapest beer you can find.

    • Victoria says:

      I’ve tried the beer pans without success, but I did not sink them in the ground. I’ll have to try again!

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