An Electric Fence for Slugs 'n 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.
We know, we tried them all.
In the end, we found only one thing that really works: a little electric fence. Since we couldn't find a good one on the market, we made it ourselves:
It gives slugs and snails a shock. But you, your kids, and pets won't feel a thing.
Mad for anyone whose planters are taken over by slugs and snails.
Why make a slug fence of all things?
Planty Garden's goal is to remove 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 the square-foot-gardening system and handy planters
With our special soil, 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 it will take you almost no time to maintain.
So, actually there was just one thing left to drive Planty Gardeners crazy: slugs. Or snails. (Okay, two things.) 🐌🐌🐌
Slugs 'n Snails
And yeah, for 80% of Planty Gardeners, snails are not that big of an issue.
A balcony garden usually won't have slugs. And in a city garden maybe a few. You'd have to pick them off now and then.
If there are more than a few, there are plenty of home remedies on my website that can help you limit the damage.
But then, there's...
The Slug Zone
Yup, the other 20% of Planty Gardeners 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.
Unfortunately, our planters are right in the midst of it.
In slug zones, you spend 90% of the time in your Planty Garden trying to keep slugs and snails out of your planters.
And that's no fun.
There Was Almost No Hope
Really, I tried everything.
Spiked barriers: They climbed right over them.
Nematodes: These little worm-like parasites eat slugs from the inside. You have to pour them over your soil every 6 weeks: both in the planters and outside. That's a lot of effort, and the costs add up.
Copper tape around the planter: also 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 on the menu.
Plus all the home remedies I mentioned before.
Do-It-Yourself Slug Fence
A few years back, I came across a possible solution online: An electric fence for snails.
This was it: You connect a 9-volt battery to two copper wires around your planter. As soon as the 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. So. No shock. The slugs just shimmied through.
And after a while, the copper stopped conducting enough electricity. You can see the remains:
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 the snails out of the veggie planters once and for all.
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.
The next step was to use 4 instead of 2 electric wires. That was a breakthrough. Four wire formed -at last- an impregnable barrier for any slug or snail:
Attaching it to the Planter
The final challenge was mounting it onto the planter.
I'd given up on staples. Trying to staple 2 wires onto the planter so that they don't touch is just nuts, 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 planter and it stops all the slugs and snails in their tracks.
It's now a ready-to-use little package:
It comes with:
Electrical housing unit (a water-proof home for the battery)
Screws attach it to your planter
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 per year.
The price is € 49 and you need 1 for each planter.
Is it expensive? That's your call.
The first prototypes were installed on two of my vegetable planters in April. And what a difference:
What a difference:
Seriously, I prefer 2 planters with the slug fence to 4 without. Because:
All your seedlings and small plants remain standing
They grow up faster and healthier when they don't have to deal with snail bites
Your harvest looks beautiful. No holes, just lush vegetables.
In short: faster growth, bigger harvest, and 10x less stress.
Do You Need This?
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. 😉
Share Your Thoughts
If you order the slug fence and mount it on your planter, I would love to hear what you think.
Maybe you have a suggestion that can make the next version even better. Let me know!
And thanks in advance!
Does the slug fence fit all planters?
The wires are long enough for a vegetable garden planter with an outer circumference of 5.5 meters. That is more than enough for our 120 x 120 planters, with or without legs.
For larger planters, 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?
Check out the manual. (Coming soon in English)
An instructional video is in the making.
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: on the casing is a green LED light that lights up every 5 seconds when everything is going well. 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 turns red.
Do children or animals also feel a shock 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 planter?
You have to catch them. Put a dish with chicken feed or breadcrumbs in the planter, they love it.
Check at night and in the morning if you see slugs or snails there. Then pick 'em up and take them out of your planter.
Put the dish in a different place every day. After 3 days or so you will probably catch them all.
My planter is bigger, do you have a solution for that?
Yes, we have an extension set. You can find it in the shop.