|Slug damage on Big Mama Tomato|
We were warned that this would in all likelihood be The Year Of The Garden Pest. The warners were right. It is. Stink bugs, rabbits, deer, ground hogs, voracious caterpillars of all varieties, blister beetles, (aptly named; their squashed bodies can bring up a good-sized blister, even through your pants), Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, harlequin beetles and more. It’s a pest convention out there.
|Slug trap to which you add beer|
In general, I’m a believer in tithing to the critters – both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ – as I think the variety keeps the garden in balance, ecologically speaking. I’m assuming Nature knows way more than I about what kinds of many-layered webs make the enterprise truly healthy and ultimately sustainable. And having gardened and researched for decades (where’d the time go?), I’ve also seen a lot of change. What were once expert absolutes about how we should be gardening have been changed more than once over the years, so I’m a bit jaded.
|Slug tavern with all the drunken slugs|
Some people sprinkle them with salt, but I’m not keen on adding even a small amount of sodium chloride to the garden; it could potentially destroy some of the things I want. For years, people have advised: Set out pans of beer, which attracts them (yes) and drowns them (no). A pan of beer is actually a slug tavern. They come in, drink themselves silly, lie around looking drowned but in fact are drunk out of their tiny gourds. When they sober up, (if you haven’t done anything else to actually get rid of them), they ooze off again to go back to work drilling slimy holes in my produce. I only hope they have massive hangovers. Incidentally, slugs can apparently survive being drowned for 48 hours in a bucket of water as well, something I tried with a drunken collection.
The only thing that’s worked for me – though I haven’t tried a number of the suggestions on the website I’ve added below – is the garden knife. I keep it in hand and slice the slugs in half and leave ‘em to decompose and add to the nutrient buffet. Time-consuming and fiddly, but brutishly satisfying.