What is Eating Seedlings?

After this year’s seedlings got off to a great start, I woke up to find something has nibbled all the leaves off overnight. It’s pretty annoying to say the least. I looked all around to find out what is eating seedlings, and at first I found no clues…


What is eating seedlings?

What is eating seedlingsThe soil is alive with woodlice, but they tend to eat decaying vegetable matter and do not usualy pose a problem for growing plants. I poked around in the soil near my seedlings, but there was nothing hiding there either. What could this little pest be?

Then I spotted something. A small trail of silver gave the game away. Slugs. And ninja slugs at that. Of all the seedlings eaten overnight, there was just one where the pest had left a trail. That slug let its ninja stealth mode slip!


How can I stop slugs eating seedlings?

I wrote before about natural methods of pest control in the vegetable garden, and I’m determined to stick to it. There must be a way of putting off these slimy meddlers, even if I have to stand outside with a torch all night, collect them and put them in the field down the lane. I’m guessing these ninja slugs will be able to find their way back, like homing pigeons.

Thinking I need an effective barrier to stop slugs from eating my seedlings, I rummaged around in the cupboards. The only thing I found was a tin of loose leaf, Earl Grey tea that someone had bought for us at Christmas.


What is eating seedlingsI’m not a fan of drinking Earl Grey tea, and neither do I have a teapot, so it was no wonder that the tea was out of date. The leaves are fairly sharp and twiggy, and the gorgeous scent of bergamot is what I hoped would also act as a deterrent, rather like citrus.

I liberally sprinkled the tea leaves around my seedlings like a mini mulch, and I could smell the scent wafting in the garden for hours.

The result!

I have to say, I approached the vegetable garden the next morning not expecting it to have worked. To my amazement, the seedlings that had escaped the first round of munching, were still there! And untouched!

There were a few silver trails around, but these were not on the Earl Grey tea leaves. They went around them. Who knew that Earl Grey tea is actually slug Kryptonite?

Now I have found out what is eating seedlings, I am able to fight back. I’m hoping the tea leaves will do the job long enough for the seedlings to become established. If not, I will try more tea, but this time I might have to invest in a teapot to drink it first.

*Update* Now, weeks later the beetroot, onions and spinach are still going strong. I haven’t had to use anymore of the tea. Next time I sow seeds in the soil, I will apply a liberal sprinkling.


Have you used herbal teas or essential oils to deter slugs in your garden?Please share your (PG) tips!



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Author: Georgina Starmer

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