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?
- 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!
- 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
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?