Many people love growing strawberries because they are sweet, juicy, delicious, and a pretty sight in gardens. Unfortunately, pests, especially slugs, love them too. Mulch is said to come in handy in repelling pests, but will straw as mulch help stop slugs from feasting on strawberries?
Straw doesn’t stop slugs from eating strawberries. Straw actually attracts them to your crops because they provide ideal hiding spots for these slimy crawlers. Slugs prefer a damp environment, and using straw as mulch boosts humidity around your strawberries.
We’ll discuss why straw isn’t a smart option in stopping slugs from eating your strawberries and what other alternatives you have in terms of mulch for your plants. We’ll also discuss reliable ways to deter these slimy crawlers and keep your strawberry bushes safe. Let’s get started!
Why Straw Won’t Stop Slugs From Eating Strawberries
Straw isn’t reliable in stopping slugs from eating your strawberries. Straw absorbs water and, once wet, easily blends in with the soil. The added moisture helps slugs slither about more comfortably, straight toward your sweet strawberries.
Wet straw also tends to clump. Slumped straw would be a great hiding spot for slugs, especially in the daytime when the sun is too hot. Thus straw may even attract those slimy critters as an ideal place to hide from predators and the sun.
Other Kinds of Mulch That May Deter Slugs
Mulch is a great way to make the soil in your garden healthier. It can provide a good source of minerals and nutrients that plants can absorb through their roots. However, you must be careful about the materials you choose for your mulch.
Some kinds of mulch may attract pests, particularly slugs, and you’ll only end up with half-eaten leaves, wilting plants, strawberry remnants, and happy, full-bellied slugs.
The kinds of mulch that can stop slugs from eating your strawberries are those that make the soil surface dry and rough. Slugs need moisture to move around, so they tend to avoid surfaces that are difficult to maneuver.
You are better off choosing materials that have sharp edges. These cause discomfort for slugs when they glide on the mulch. The rough edges might even puncture their soft bodies.
Here are other kinds of mulch that may stop slugs from eating your strawberries:
Wood Shavings or Sawdust
The dryness of wood shavings or sawdust will deter slugs from approaching your strawberries. The fine particles also make it difficult for them to crawl over since most of the shavings will end up sticking to their bodies. Most slugs will simply turn away no matter how enticing your strawberries may be.
However, remember that this type of mulch can easily absorb water, either from the soil or from rainfall. It becomes virtually useless as soon as the particles blend in with wet soil. Like straw, wet wood shavings attract slugs by sheltering them.
Crushed eggshells scattered around strawberry plants make it extremely difficult for slugs to approach. The sharp, ragged edges will pierce through their skin if they attempt to crawl over the mulch.No amount of strawberries will be worth crossing with such an uncomfortable obstacle.
Additionally, egg shells are rich in calcium and help make the soil more acidic – an attribute that strawberry bushes love.
Coffee grounds are a great way to reuse those coffee grounds from your daily morning brew. Slugs generally do not like the smell of coffee. Scattering some coffee grounds around your strawberry bushes will keep them away.
Also, coffee grounds will make the soil more acidic and increase nitrogen content. Your strawberry bushes will love these changes and will grow more abundantly.
Coarse bark chips scattered around strawberry bushes will be tremendous obstacles for slimy, slithering pests. It would take so much effort for them to maneuver over these hurdles. Most slugs will simply turn away and search for other easily accessible meals.
However, rain is again the culprit in rendering bark chip mulch futile. Once they’re damp, they become great hiding places for slugs. Instead of repelling them, wet bark chips will entice slugs to hang out around your strawberry bushes. It would only be a matter of time before these crawlers figure out how to get to the delectable strawberries.
Reliable Ways To Stop Slugs From Eating Strawberries
Mulch is a great option to stop slugs from coming near your strawberries. However, choosing a suitable mulch material is tricky. Often, mulch only provides a temporary solution to your slug problems. Rain, in particular, quickly renders mulch useless.
Here are some proven safe and reliable ways to keep slugs away and protect your strawberries from becoming their favorite treats:
Creating a copper tape barrier around your strawberry bushes is a great way to stop slugs from feasting on your crops. The tapes send little electric shocks when slugs touch them, effectively sending the slimy creatures slithering away. Copper tape isn’t harmful to the plants or the soil, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
This method works only for potted strawberry plants. The jelly forms a slippery, gooey layer when slathered around the pots. It would be nearly impossible for slugs to scale the pots and get to the sweet strawberries.
You can also mix a little bit of salt with petroleum jelly. This mixture is a potent deterrent because salt is lethal to slugs. Upon contact, salt dehydrates slugs, eventually killing them. In their futile attempt to get to the strawberries, slugs will unknowingly expose themselves to salt.
This method deters slugs simply because of the lingering, pungent scent it creates. Snails shy away from strong odors, and what better way to shoo them away than with the help of the sharp, stinging smell of garlic?
Spraying garlic mixture on your strawberry plants won’t harm them. Garlic spray will repel other pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
Here’s how to make garlic spray for your strawberries:
- Place 1 head of garlic in a food processor. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency.
- Add in 2 cups of water. Pulse a few times until the elements are well-dispersed.
- Pour the mixture into a glass jar. Leave it covered in a dimly lit area for at least a day to let the garlic completely settle in.
- Pour the mixture into a larger jar. Use a strainer to get rid of any solid particles.
- Add in water until you have a 1-gallon (4.5 liters) mixture.
- Transfer some of the mixture into a spray bottle. Pour only the amount you need because this mixture must be stored in the fridge when not in use.
- Spray liberally all over your strawberry bushes. Use the spray once a week, at most.
Birds are one of the primary predators of slugs. Install birdhouses near your strawberry bushes to encourage birds to nest and make your garden their home. Birds frequenting your garden, particularly around your strawberry bushes, will be an effective deterrent against slugs.
Additionally, these winged predators will quickly snatch up any slugs brave enough to go near your strawberries.
You can also install bird feeders or bird baths near your strawberry bushes. These will entice birds to stop by for some refreshments and perhaps a dip to cool themselves down. Slugs won’t go anywhere near where birds are frolicking.
Water Infrequently but Deeply
Moist soil attracts slugs. Water accumulation is prevented by reducing your watering frequency and waiting for the top layer of soil to dry up first. Slugs tend to avoid dry, rough ground. Make sure to water your strawberry plants deeply each time to allow the roots to soak in as much water as they need for the plants to thrive.
Slugs love citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Take their attention away from your strawberries by scattering citrus peels around your strawberry bushes. These will be easier to get to than the strawberries, so slugs will undoubtedly choose these over your precious crops. Pluck them out of your garden or use garlic spray on them whenever you see slugs munching on the citrus peels.
Slugs are also attracted to beer. It’s the yeast in beer that they love, and you can make use of this yeast appeal to your advantage. Fill shallow bowls with beer and lay them out near your strawberry plants. Approaching slugs eyeing your crops will be distracted by the scent and want to investigate. Hopefully, slugs reaching in for a drink will fall into the beer-filled bowl, drown, and die.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Barrier
DE is a powder with sharp particles made up of various marine organisms. It’s a potent irritant for slugs and will send them slithering away to safety upon contact. It would be best to lay an inch-wide barrier of DE a few inches away from your strawberry bushes. Remember to replace it after it rains because DE loses its potency when wet.
Clear the Area
Drive slugs away by depriving them of safe hiding places. Clear away any rocks, fallen logs, weeds, and boards around your strawberry plants because slugs may be hiding underneath them.
Slugs come out at night to feed, and your strawberries are probably already in their sights. By taking away these hiding spots, slugs will move on in search of safer areas where they can rest during the day and satisfy their voracious appetites at night.
Slugs can completely ruin your strawberry bushes – the leaves, stems, and especially the fruits. They’ll leave ragged holes in leaves, cause the stems to wilt, and eat right through the fruits.
Using straw as mulch isn’t a smart option in stopping slugs from eating your strawberries because it provides shelter for these pests, especially when wet. Explore proven safe and effective methods for deterring slugs so you can enjoy a bountiful strawberry harvest.
If you wonder why your garden has so many snails, you can read my other article here: 14 Reasons Why Your Garden Has So Many Snails