Repel Slugs with a Penny Ball

Penny Ball by Deb Kolar

A common problem with which gardeners are faced is the presence of slugs. These creatures are a type of mollusk that can be described as snails without shells. They can vary in length but usually top out at close to two inches in length. Though you may not always get a visual on them, a telltale sign is the slime trail left behind as they move about. Slugs are a problem because they can do a lot of damage to gardens. In addition to chewing leaves, they are known to feast on fruits and vegetables. Through the use of mouth parts that create a file type of effect, irregular holes are caused and many fruits and vegetables wind up being a loss. Plants themselves can also be a loss if damage is severe enough.

Though there are many different ways to repel slugs, one in particular makes for a fun project that also enhances the appearance of your garden. This project is known as a penny ball or penny sphere and in addition to repelling slugs, its presence also enhances coloration in flowers such as hydrangeas, which it helps to turn a more vibrant blue. Having a penny ball in the garden also makes for the appearance of something interesting to break up rows of fruits and veggies.

Penny balls are easy to make and creating your own can be done inexpensively. To start the process, you will of course need pennies with the number depending on the type of ball to which you plan to adhere them. A popular choice is to purchase a bowling ball for the purpose of making a penny ball as these will hold up to the elements and being placed outdoors. Bowling balls can be found at thrift stores in some cases and possibly at your local bowling alley as they are upgrading their stock. Another choice is a round Styrofoam ball that is often found in craft stores ranging in price from just a few dollars on up to close to $20 depending on your selection. Styrofoam is slow to biodegrade so a penny ball with a Styrofoam base should make for a long term garden addition.

The next component you will need to make a penny ball is the most obvious one: pennies. There is a catch, however, in that the pennies used must be dated prior to 1983. The reason for this is because that is when the copper content in pennies was reduced and it is copper that repels slugs. Modern pennies have a high content of zinc which will not only leave slugs undeterred but can cause problems in your garden. Finally, you will need an adhesive to affix pennies. This should be something resistant to water and UV rays such as a marine formula adhesive.

Clean the surface of the ball you are using beforehand and allow it to dry thoroughly. For bowling balls, you may wish to plug holes with adhesive or retain them for carrying purposes; the choice is yours. Beyond that, simply start placing dabs of adhesive on the ball and sticking pennies into the adhesive. Take care to keep the sphere stationary during this process, especially in the case of a bowling ball so it does not fall and injure you or damage flooring.

Once all of the pennies are adhered, allow the adhesive ample time to dry before relocating the penny sphere to the garden. You may wish to place it on a stand to increase aesthetic appeal or simply rest it in the dirt. Either way, creating a penny ball is a fun, inexpensive way to jazz up the garden while giving slugs a message to take a hike. Best of all, it is a great project for veggie gardeners with kids making it a win all around.


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2 Comments on Repel Slugs with a Penny Ball

  1. I love the idea of a penny ball but I don't get how to use it. Do you roll it around the yard every now and then to leave the coppery flavor on the soil?

  2. I love the idea of a penny ball but I don't get how to use it. Do you roll it around the yard every now and then to leave the coppery flavor on the soil?

    You can use copper strips along the edges of raised beds. The slugs and snails try and cross the copper and they get shocked due to a chemical reaction between their slime and the copper. I am not sure how the penny ball works. The newer pennies are mostly zinc.

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