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All Creatures Small and Not-So-Great

May 19, 2012

I have criminals in my garden. While I continue to blame both myself and climate change for the failings of my garden, I think I’ve discovered a somewhat more direct cause. This critter has been munching on my hard work in the dark of night, leaving only shiny trails in its wake. In the courtroom of nature, I point my finger at – the lowly slug.

Exhibit A: Empty seed cases. Because of the lasagna gardening, I planted my seeds in shallow clumps of either seeding soil or Leaf-gro. In addition to providing something for the seeds to root into, it also made it really easy to identify where I had planted stuff. So I kept being baffled when I’d plant seeds, I’d see empty seed cases as if it had sprouted and shed the case, and yet nothing was there. I suspect the seed sprouted just enough to split the case and then a slug ate it.

Exhibit B: Aforementioned shiny trails. A tremendous amount of my garden has an odd silvery sheen to it. It’s sort of pretty, until you realize what it is. Ew.

Exhibit C: Eyewitness account with a photograph! (Although not 27 eight-by-ten glossy photographs with a paragraph on the back of each one.) I had seen slugs earlier in the season, but only right after it had rained heavily. Because I didn’t see them the rest of the time, I just thought they were gross and discounted them as a problem. We kept missing each other because slugs are nocturnal. When I came home tonight and went slug-searching for a photo, it wasn’t hard to find one. Say cheese!

On one hand, I admit that our slimy brethren certainly don’t understand the intricacies of the criminal system, or for that matter, how wrong and frustrating it is to me that they are in my garden. They just need to eat. (And honestly, the practice of apophallation is punishment enough for anything bad any slug ever might have done.)

But I still don’t want them here, as I’d like my existing plants to produce human-food, not slug-food. There’s the method of “relocation,” as described by the post-dystopian gardeners in the Margaret Atwood book The Year of the Flood, otherwise known as “chucking them as far as possible.” Although this method brings great satisfaction, it’s also not very efficient. As such, I hope some natural controls kick in soon but try couple of different methods in the meantime. I think we didn’t have this problem last year because we have a lot of lightning bugs in our yard and according to this website, their larvae eat slugs. I’ve just started seeing the lightning bugs show up, so I’m hoping once their population swells a bit, the slugs will go away. In the meantime, I’m going to try to attract them into their own demise with beer. Apparently slugs like beer so much that they will crawl in there and then drown. Unfortunately, it’s not the most humane method, but at least they’ll be “happy” (or the slug equivalent) in the process. I may also encourage Chris to drink coffee so we can spread those grinds around as well, as slugs don’t react well to caffeine.

In my gardening, I try to be as no-kill and naturally structured as possible. But sometimes I just have to give in and protect my plants from criminal creepy crawlers.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. julia christine stephen permalink
    May 19, 2012 11:04 am

    well at least you got them on camera…there will be no getting out of this one for them. :)

  2. May 21, 2012 4:08 pm

    Per a friend’s experimentation, slugs prefer good beer. They wouldn’t go for the cheap stuff; instead, they drowned themselves in bowls of Abita.

    I used to salt them when I was a kid, expecting them to dissolve away. The reality is that they melt into a gooey mess. :/

    • May 21, 2012 8:37 pm

      That was the frustrating thing! We used good, expensive beer (Flying Dog, from nearby Frederick, MD, as that’s what was in the fridge) and none of them fell for it. Then it rained and the beer got very diluted. I don’t want to waste another half-bottle of expensive beer if the slugs aren’t going to be attracted to it.

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