Slugs in January! – Backyard Food Growing


The garden usually rests around November in the Lower Mainland of BC, depending on the weather and when the rainy season returns. Usually the rainy season has long since arrived by the end of November and the gardeners of this area retreat to the dry warmth of the house. If you have a greenhouse, then your growing season can be extended quite a bit.

But if not, then now is the time to relax and enjoy the hard earned break from the work of the spring and summer growing season.

We don’t really get winter around here in the true Canadian sense, we just get a lot of rain and quite warm temperatures compared to the rest of the country. It’s very rare that snow falls at all and even more rare to get snow that lasts more than a few days. This usually happens in February, but the slugs and snails were already busy in January chomping away on my garden.

For a two or three months it’s usually ok to assume that the garden doesn’t really need anything other than time to rest…or so I thought! The slugs have been busy all month long while I was resting.

The slugs were not sleeping

Spring feels just around the corner even though it’s not really. I took a walk around the garden the other day to see what was happening and see if any of the plants were waking up from the winter yet.  

I found a lot of perennials and herbaceous plants like Hosta and lilies starting to show life and the spring sprouts are evident on several other plants already as well.

I love Oriental lilies so I always keep an eye on them. The calendar says it’s winter, therefore I didn’t even think about doing pest control right now in January. Usually that isn’t needed, but what I didn’t notice how high the temperature has been lately.

It hasn’t been cold at all. The slugs didn’t miss that fact, but I sure did.

This article Slugs and Snails and What to do About Them has details, ideas and several suggestions that should help you in the fight against these relentless garden pests.

Garden Buffet for Slugs

To my dismay all of my young sprouts are being destroyed by these voraciously hungry slugs and snails. 

Though they had just emerged and are only an inch high, the slugs had them mostly demolished down to ground level.

It’s easy to tell if you have slugs in your garden even if you never actually see them around. The young pointed tips of your lily sprouts and other young perennials will have noticeable gouges out of them.

The slime trails are usually pretty easy to spot too if you look closely. They tend to come out of hiding in the evening and night or if the day is rainy and cool then you will see them in the daytime too. Take a walk in the garden at night with a flashlight and you’ll see if you have them or not.

If slugs are left uncontrolled they can easily kill a plant by eating it faster than it can grow., eventually the plant will just die from stress. There will be a need for slug bait or some kind of control measure or you won’t have any beautiful flowers when July arrives. 

Easy Slug Remedy

My personal favourite is the pelleted slug bait and poison. It’s easy to use and apply, it works without you having to do anything else. The slugs and snails eat the pellets thinking that it’s food, they crawl away, dehydrate and then die. Just reapply the bait every 1-2 weeks or after heavy rains and you’ll see a great reduction in their numbers. Doing this will more effectively kill all the generations as they happen.

Leave a comment below and let me know if you need more help with slugs and snails.