September: get ready for next spring 🌱

An electric fence for slugs and snails

What fights off slugs and snails and what doesn't?

To get right down to it: almost everything you can find on the internet to stop slugs and snails from eating up your garden either works a little or doesn't work at all. 

In the end, we found only 1 thing that really works: an electric fence. Since we couldn't find a good one on the market, we made it ourselves:

Electric fence for slugs and snails fastened to the planter
Our anti-slug and snail fence attached to a garden box
Made for anyone whose garden boxes are being taken over by slugs and snails.

It gives slugs and snails a shock. But you, your kids, and your pets won't feel a thing.

NB! - Unfortunately, the slug fence is sold out.

A lot of people found the assembly too complicated, so we're improving the design and working on a new version.

The process has turned out to be a bit more challenging than we thought, so it'll be a while before we can offer it in the shop: end of 2021 at the earliest.

Sorry about that. As much as we'd like to, we can't speed things up. We are working hard to make the best slug fence we can. 

Why make a slug fence of all things?

Our goal is to get rid of the cons of growing your own food, so only the pros are left. And we got pretty far: 
  • You only need a small amount of space, thanks to our growing system.
  • With our special soil mix, everything grows well: from lettuce to tomatoes.
  • You don't need any experience: the app helps you every step of the way.
  • There is no heavy lifting. And you can maintain it in almost no time.
The planty app shows you exactly when to grow what
So, there's just one thing left to drive us all nuts: slugs. Or snails. (Okay, two things.) 🐌🐌🐌

Slugs and snails

And yeah, for 80% of the people using our system, slugs and snails are not that big of an issue.

A balcony Planty Garden usually won't have slugs. And a city garden may only have a few. You'd have to pick them off your plants every now and then.

The slug zone

But the other 20% of us live in slug zones.

Like my parents. Their garden is in the middle of an orchard. During the growing season, full slug armies are born there.
The Planty garden grows tall and strong
Our garden boxes in the orchard
Unfortunately, our garden boxes are right in the midst of a breeding ground.

In a slug zone, you spend 90% of your time in your Planty Garden trying to keep slugs and snails out of your boxes.

And that's no fun.

There was almost no hope

Really. I tried everything.

Spiked barriers: They climbed right over them.
Slugs climb over spikes into the planter
Slugs climb over the slug brushes, no problem
Nematodes: These little worm-like parasites eat slugs from the inside out. You have to pour them over your soil every 6 weeks: both in the garden boxes and outside of them. That's a lot of effort, and the costs add up.

Copper tape: Expensive and all for nothing.

Organic slug pellets: They help a little, but the slugs still ate my plants even when there was still plenty of pellets lying around.

DIY slug fence

A few years back, I came across a possible solution: an electric fence for snails.

Here's how it worked

You connect a 9-volt battery to two copper wires around your garden box. As soon as the slug or snail touches both wires, it gets a little shock and turns around.

It looked simple enough, but wow. In practice, it was a hassle. But after some blood, sweat, and lots of staples - I finally did it.

And guess what? Those &$#%!-critters are so smart that they zig-zagged between the wires. They only touched one wire at a time. No shock. The slugs just shimmied through.

And after a while, the copper stopped conducting enough electricity. This is the aftermath:
Jelle's DIY slug fence falling apart
Remnants of my failed DIY fence
Yeah, I know. It's not pretty.

The only ready-made slug fence I could find cost € 150, and was even uglier than the thing I made myself 😕

Time for the big guns

I couldn't let it go. A Planty Garden should be fun for everyone. So, I went to a company that specialized in inventing new products. I asked them to make something that would keep slugs and snails out of our vegetable garden boxes once and for all.
developing the electric fence with designers
Brainstorming our anti-slug device
It was hilarious. Smart designers and techies who usually make coffee machines and digital stuff were now working on a solution for our Planty Gardening community. How cool is that? They thought it was super fun too. 

Their bill was no joke, but drastic slugs call for drastic measures 😄

Bumps along the way

By the way, it wasn't all smooth sailing. The first prototype had 2 wires close to each other, to prevent the slug from zig-zagging through.

That seemed to work, until this nimble snail found its way over: backward.
Snail slides backward over the electric snail fence prototye
Grrrr

Extra wires

The next step was to use 4 instead of 2 electric wires. That was a breakthrough. The 4 wires formed - at last - an impenetrable barrier for any slug or snail:

Attaching it to the garden box

The final challenge was mounting it onto the garden box.

I'd given up on staples. Trying to staple 2 wires onto the bed so that they don't touch is practically impossible, let alone 4. 

So, we made special corner pieces that you thread the electrical wires through.

In short? We. Solved. Everything.

Well, everything slug-related. You just screw our MM-Slug fence onto your box and it stops all the slugs and snails in their tracks.

It's comes in a little package, ready to use:
Product slug fence NL
It comes with:

  • electrical housing unit (water-proof, for the battery)
  • 9-volt battery
  • electric fencing
  • corner pieces
  • screws 
  • and a clear manual
You only have to install it once - that will cost you at most an hour - and then you're set. For years. The materials stay good a long time and the battery needs changing just 1x a year.

How much?

The price is € 49 and you need 1 for each garden box.

Is it expensive? That's your call.

The first prototypes were installed on two of my raised bed in April. And what a difference:
Planter with the slug fence
The box with the electric fence installed

What a difference:

Planter without slug fence
Yup...
Seriously, I prefer 2 garden boxes with the slug fence to 4 without. Because:
  1. all your seedlings and small plants remain standing
  2. they grow up faster and healthier when they don't have to deal with snail bites
  3. your harvest looks beautiful. Instead of holes, lush vegetables
In short: faster growth, bigger harvest, and 10x less stress.

Is this something for you?

Well, only if you have a lot of slugs. If that's not the case, my other tips will help.

Besides, you can always get the slug fence later. If all else fails 😉

NB! - Unfortunately, the slug fence is sold out.

A lot of people found the assembly too complicated, so we're improving the design and working on a new version.

The process has turned out to be a bit more challenging than we thought, so it'll be a while before we can offer it in the shop: end of 2021 at the earliest.

Sorry about that. As much as we'd like to, we can't speed things up. We are working hard to make the best slug fence we can. 

Share your thoughts

If you order the slug fence and mount it on your garden box, I'd love to hear what you think. 

Maybe you have a suggestion that can make the next version even better. Let me know 😉

And thanks!

Jelle signature

More Info:

Does the slug fence fit all garden boxes?

The wires are long enough for a vegetable garden box with an outer measurement of 5.5 meters. That is more than enough for our 120x120 garden boxes and garden tables.

For larger boxes, you'll need an extension set. This will be in the shop soon, but send us an email if you want it now.

How does it work exactly?

We're working on an instructional video too.

How long does the battery last?

Usually, the whole season. The battery drains faster if the wires are activated for a long period of time: then you get a short circuit.

Can you see if the battery is still working or if there is a short circuit?

Yes: when it's working, you can see a green LED light that lights up every 5 seconds on the plastic casing. It flickers when the battery is low. If the 2 middle wires touch each other, then you've got a short circuit and the light will turn red.

Do children or animals get shocked when they touch the wires?

No, you won't feel anything, and neither will your kids or cats. Slugs and snails feel the shock because of their slime (which conducts electricity). Unfortunately, other non-slimy pests like woodlice don't feel the shock.

Will the cute snails die?

Nope. The shock is enough to scare the slugs and snails but it will not kill them. After a few tries, they give up and turn around.

And what do you do about those snails already in your garden? 

The slugs in chicken feed
Check at night and in the morning if you see slugs or snails there. Then remove them from your garden box.

Put the dish in a different place every day. After 3 days or so you will probably catch them all.