Everyone knows slugs can be hungry little buggers and that they can devour treasured crops. But not all plants are eaten by slugs, but what about tomatoes? If you are planning on growing your own tomatoes then you will want to know if they are going to be a target for the slugs. Well, let’s have a look and find out.
Will Slugs Eat Tomato Plants?
Most damage will often be confined to the leaves and slugs are only a true danger to smaller seedling plants. Larger plants will be able to shrug off the damage to their leaves relatively easily.
What we as gardeners won’t be able to shrug off though is if those slugs go eating any of our tomato fruits! So what can you do about it?
Normally in the UK, I would expect you are growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse or polytunnel which already puts you at an advantage over the slugs.
The slug population should be much lower in your greenhouse than it is in your garden in general. And with it being a much smaller area slug prevention methods can be more effective.
What I would recommend starting with is to grow in raised beds rather than grow bags. Grow bags, for me at least, always seem to be a harbour for slugs. They love the dark damp environment that is found underneath a growbag.
So by not using them in your greenhouse, you remove a potential slug hiding place.
Barriers are a good way of preventing slugs from getting at your tomatoes and are particularly effective if you are growing them in a greenhouse.
There are all kinds of different barriers you can get with many of them being copper. The theory is that the slugs won’t go across the copper as it is poisonous to them. Grow Like Grandad has done a brilliant study on this on his blog, and found that a lot of tapes don’t work, but some will if they have enough copper in them and are also wide enough.
What I like to sue though is a barrier with a 90-degree bend in it, studies have shown that slugs won’t even try and cross a straight edge like this.
You can get them in metal and plastic form with plastic being a lot cheaper obviously.
- Slug and snail deterrent barrier is pre-folded for easy use and assembly and prevents damage to plants
If you want another way to deal with slugs then have a look at some of my top tips below.
How to deal with slugs
The classic way to kill off slugs and it does work, there are however drawbacks.
Firstly the little blue pellets aren’t safe to have around if you have pets or young children who might digest them accidentally.
Next, there is the fact that they may be harmful to slugs’ natural predators like hedgehogs who eat slugs killed by pellets, therefore, ingesting the poison themselves.
And then there is the mess they leave, lots of dead slugs on the surface of your garden with nasty trails everywhere.
This is a natural and organic way to kill slugs. There are all kinds of nematodes, which are tiny little creatures that live in your soil, some of these nematodes kill slugs.
This is completely natural and is what happens in your soil all the time. By adding nematodes you are just increasing the number of the slug killing type.
One of the advantages of this method aside from the fact you don’t have to use poison is that part of the way the nematodes kill the slugs makes them burrow into the ground before dying, so no nasty dead slugs lying around!
Control slugs NATURALLY by applying Nemaslug Slug Killer, which contains natural nematodes, that are effective at controlling slugs, but unlike chemical controls, are safe for children, pets, birds and wildlife.
Torch & Bucket
The manual method, and as is often the case with the manual method, this is very effective but time-consuming. Wait until dark and go out into the garden with a torch, some gloves and a bucket and start collecting slugs.
This is best done on a damp night after heavy rain as then the slugs will be everywhere, happy hunting!
You can set up traps to capture slugs and then dispose of them how you wish. There are lots of different ways to do this but one of the more popular ones is a beer trap.
With a beer trap, you set a container, usually a plastic tub of some kind, level with the surface of the soil. You want it level with the surface so slugs can easily get into it but you want the bottom to be deep, so they can’t get out.
You then fill the bottom with some beer, which slugs adore, and leave it. The slugs will make their way into the trap and either drown or be waiting there come morning for you to get rid of them.
One downside to this apart from all the slug carcases you will be getting rid of is that the beer is so potent that it can apparently attract slugs up to 200 meters away and therefore bring even more slugs into your garden than were there before!