Slugs eat a whole host of plant matter which can make growing crops quite difficult for gardeners. So let’s take a look at one of the most popular vegetables to grow at home: Tomatoes. And let’s ask, do slugs eat tomato plants or will they be safe?
Yes, slugs do eat tomato plants. They will eat both the leaves of tomato plants and the stalks of the plants too. Slugs will often eat the tomato fruit itself too!
Will Slugs Eat Tomato Plants?
Slugs will eat tomato plants and quite happily so. They will not just eat the leaves and the stalks of tomato plants, as they do with most other plant species. But they will actually eat the tomato fruit as well.
They can cause a lot of damage to your tomato plants, especially to young seedlings that are just starting to sprout. They will most often come to your garden and eat your plants overnight, quite often accompanied by snails – double trouble!
Now that we know that slugs will eat your tomato plants let’s look at what we can do to repel them.
How Do You Get Rid of Slugs on Tomato Plants?
It is much easier to prevent slugs from coming to your plants in the first place than it is to get rid of them. Thankfully, many gardeners have come up with tried and tested methods of deterring slugs over the years.
Another great thing is that these methods are all-natural and do not contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, like commercial slug repellent.
Here is a list of some methods that will help you to drive slugs away:
Coffee is a great way to deter pests from your plants, it is natural and does not cause any harm to your crops, but you should be careful not to use too much. Sprinkling used coffee grounds onto soil is all you need to do to help repel slugs.
Slugs will be deterred by coffee because they dislike coming into contact with caffeinated soil, and so they will not travel over it.
Coffee is also good because it can help to repel other pests, such as squirrels, that will eat the fruit of your crops and also cause damage to the plant at its core.
Using particular types of terrain is a simple way to prevent slugs from reaching your petunias. Because of the way that slugs travel, there are many different types of surfaces that are uncomfortable for them to cross.
The most effective terrains to counter slugs seem to be gravel and mulch. Both of these terrains contain small and sharp pieces that are uncomfortable for slugs to cross, and it can sometimes stick to their bodies and cause them damage.
To utilise this, sprinkle gravel or mulch on top of the soil of your tomato plant beds. Alternatively, if you are keeping your tomatoes in a greenhouse, then you can sprinkle gravel around the outside of your greenhouse so that the slugs will not try to get in.
Encourage Natural Predators
Whilst this method won’t repel your slugs, it will certainly help keep the population under control. Many slug predators, such as hedgehogs, will visit gardens in search of food and can be encouraged to visit frequently if an appropriate shelter is set up for them.
Attracting hedgehogs is not only great for controlling slugs, but they will also eat other creatures that can damage your crops, such as snails.
What Plants Do Slugs Not Eat?
If you were hoping to grow some fruit and veg that will not be targeted by slugs, then you have quite a search on your hands. Slugs are opportunistic meaning that they will eat almost any source of food that they can get to.
However, there are some crops that are often avoided by slugs that may just be your answer. Here is a short list of potential slug-free crops for you to grow:
Likely, slugs do not like to eat onions and other plants from the allium family because of their strong taste. Other allium plants that they will not often eat include garlic and leeks.
However, as mentioned, slugs will eat them if that is the only thing available to them, but planting alliums will give your crops more protection than planting tomatoes.
Most species of leafy green crops are very vulnerable to attacks by slugs, but somehow lamb’s lettuce has been able to make itself rather slug resistant.
This is not only great news for the lettuce, but for you as well as this is a nice crop to grow that gives you minimal worries about slugs.
The content of celery is largely water which means that it doesn’t provide a large amount of nutritional value for the slugs.
Sometimes, younger celery plants can be more susceptible to slug infestations, but slugs appear to largely leave these vegetables alone.
Whilst all of these are not common slug food, none of them are guaranteed to be protected from slugs. It is still a good idea to use some of the natural repellent methods that we have previously mentioned when growing any kind of crops.
To summarise, slugs will eat tomato plants, but they can be deterred through the use of difficult terrains, such as gravel, and by the smell of coffee.
Slugs eat most crops but will rarely feed on alliums or celery. Other pests that you may find eating your tomato plants include snails and rabbits.
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Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden