Slugs and small snails are hermaphroditic mollusks which love humid conditions. They carry out the destruction of your garden during the night and are rarely seen during the day. They can eat as much as 40 times their weight daily. Slugs are a gardener's worst enemy, since they attack many different vegetables and plants. They take a certain pleasure in eating young shoots and leaves which are close to the ground. They often also target underground bulbs and large roots, and they'll eat strawberries, melons, and any fruit they can reach. In the Spring, when the weather is cool and wet, slugs come out of the ground to attack the young tender leaves in your garden. It is important to get rid of these parasites early in the Spring as they multiply rapidly, averaging around 500 births per season.
You can tell you have slugs by the shiny trail their mucus leaves on their path. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to keeps slugs out of your garden.
Let nature do the job
One solution to keep slugs out of your garden is to attract and protect their natural predators. The hedgehog, the shrew, birds, frogs, and toads, are all your allies in fighting this common enemy. To help nature, leave some areas of your garden fallow. You can also install a little water spot or pond to attract frogs and toads. Another option is to let chickens or ducks roam your garden in the Fall. They'll eat mature slugs which would otherwise reproduce early the following Spring.
An favorite old trick to get rid of slugs is to place a dish with a small amount of beer close to the ground in the slug-infested area. Slugs are by nature drunkards; this will attract most of them, and lots of them will drown, keeping their population down to a minimum. You can also place a barrier between your plants and the slugs by spreading abrasive materials around your plant beds. Ashes, sand, coffee grounds, and sawdust are all suitable abrasives to keep slugs out of your garden area. The inconvenience of this method is that it has to be repeated after each rainfall.
Science to the rescue
You might prefer to turn to more modern methods and enlist the help of newer technologies. Among these new solutions, you will find nematodes. Nematodes are predatory, microscopic worms which kill garden pests like slugs and cutworms. Nematodes are sold in a powder form that can be diluted in water and spread on the garden in the spring or in the fall to keep slugs out of your garden for an entire season.
Another well-known method used by many gardeners is metaldehyde. This poison is very efficient, but is also somewhat dangerous for other animals that might ingest it so it's important to use caution if you choose this method.