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Garden Check-in: Slugs Wars

Simple and effective techniques for fighting the enemy

There was a time I found slugs endearing, viagra generic but my eyes have been opened to the pure havoc they wreak and I am now (mostly) immune to their charm. The first few years I tried to garden, viagra and it seemed like I couldn’t even get anything to sprout. It was so frustrating and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I didn’t really find out until last year when I joined the community garden that the reason I wasn’t able to grow anything was due to the fact that in the dead of night the slugs were emerging from their slumber, and using my new sprouted plants as an all you can eat buffet.

I finally saw how truly destructive those little shits can be and it was like a lightbulb went off. How come no one told me this? I don’t know if they are as much of a problem in other parts of the world, but if you are trying to garden in the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you right here, right now: extra vigilance against their slimy onslaught is a necessity! An imperative! Slugs are a major problem in our neck of the woods, especially when it’s extra rainy and cold, like it’s been lately. So heed my warning and prepare yourself for battle. Now is the time to take care of the slugs so you don’t have a population explosion later on. Here are a few of the tools I have learned that are simple, cheap, and most important—work:

Wood planks:

This one is easy, and actually surprisingly effective. Place planks in various locations in your garden. Lift up the planks on a regular basis and check for slugs hanging out during the heat of the day recovering from the party the night before.

A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Pick them off and put them in your neighbors yard dispose of them how you see fit. I have seen slug eggs under these planks before, so keep your eyes peeled for little white eggs that sort of look like israeli cous cous.

UPDATE: After I wrote this, there was a discussion at the garden about slugs (they are totally destroying our cabbage!) and it was noted that small pieces of black plastic are even more effective than wood planks. The plastic does a better job of creating the dark, moist environment slugs love. I was happy to hear that because I have a ton of black plastic around leftover from solarizing, so I am going to give this a try for sure.

 

A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Beer/yeast traps:

Start saving your yogurt containers or throw a party and load up at the antipasto bar. Cut a whole in the top quarter of the container, which will act as the gateway to death. You are going to bury the container so that the hole is just above ground level. You don’t want the hole at ground level, otherwise other (good) bugs will accidentally wander in after a night on the town and drown.
A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Fill the container with beer, or a combo of yeast, sugar and water (like a teaspoon or two in a cup or so), and make sure to check on it periodically to see if it needs a top off. No need to empty the container, the smell of the beer and decaying slugs with attract even MORE slugs, thus adding to it’s appeal and gross factor. I just read yesterday as I was doing a little more research that some people have had more success with the homemade yeast concoction than the beer. I might have to test this.
A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia

A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia

“Eco” slug products

There are “organic” slug products on the market that contain Iron Phosphate, a “naturally occurring substance”, which is used as a nutritional supplement for iron deficiencies. I have found them to be fairly effective. The slugs come across the pellets, which render them immobile and they dry up in the sun. As mollusks, slugs need to keep their bodies moist. However…you need to reapply after it rains, and it doesn’t really help when it rains for days at a stretch and the slugs are having a smorgasbord on your kale in the mean time. There is also discussion on whether or not this stuff is really considered organic. I would do a little bit of research as it’s touted to be safe enough for organic gardening, yet it seems some pets have died by eating the granules. If you have pets that tend to eat strange things, like a lab for example, you might want to give some thought as to whether or not you want to use it. We do not use this at the community garden in the interest of full disclosure.

The most effective method that really, really works but there is no way in hell I am doing

This doesn’t work for me because I am usually in bed by 9 pm. But, if you are a night owl, this might be right up your alley. Strap on a headlamp, or grab your flashlight and head out into your garden around 11 p.m and go slug hunting. This time of night is party time for slugs, so get them while they are out cruising around looking to munch on your stuff.

Create An Inhospitable Environment

Be aware of potential habitats you are creating for slugs, such as using wood chips as a mulch. They love them. Keep low hanging shade creating foliage pruned so you aren’t giving them a place to hide. They like dark and damp places, which really works against us because…it RAINS HERE.

I found that starting my plants under lights and giving them a head start really helps a lot too. It seems like it’s the really high-nitrogen new sprouty leafs that they particularly like, so in my experience, they seem to leave the larger starts alone. For the most part, that is. Last year a friend from the garden told me that one night, on slug patrol, he caught a slug using it’s slime to repel from the ceiling of the 6ft hoop house down to floor, à la Mission Impossible. This underscores the lengths they will go through for a meal.

Slugs are formidable foes. They are sneaky and relentless. So keep a stiff upper lip and don’t back down. Stay vigilant and know the enemy. Good luck, troops. Stay safe out there.

Comments

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  • Thanks for sharing Mary!! Nothing like watching a large, hairy man in a leotard covered in slime. Funny!

  • Mary

    I’ve been wondering if beer works for slugs, and I came across your blog post. I did try this..but, like Erica, I found the slug dead after it ate my cabbage. Grr!!! Anyway, in my travels, I also came across this hilarious slug video and I thought I’d share to make everybody’s day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMssG-66oTE&feature=youtu.be

    -Mary

  • Stay strong soliders! I found a slug in my beer trap (yay!) but all of my kale has been eaten (boo!)

  • Christina

    Fantastic post! I will definitely be trying all of the above this year.

  • CRISSI

    Thanks Erica! We have been trying our hand at gardening. I am enjoying what you are teaching me about gardening because I’m trying to do things organically, but I have a lot to learn. Miss you cuz!

  • Ooooh, I hates them. The other morning I came upon two of them right after they ate through the stem of my poor lone artichoke seedling. (They got fed to the chickens.)

  • Alicia

    I don’t think I can eat couscous in the near future without thinking about snail eggs… but thanks for the tips! Here in Holland we have snails as well, even in my tiny garden but they’ll eat anything. My snails look different though, they’re the kind with the shell on top which makes it easier to pick them up and send them flying to the neighbours 😉

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