…and then the slugs moved in

slugs 04 || cityhippyfarmgirl.comslugs 03 || cityhippyfarmgirl.comslugs 02 || cityhippyfarmgirl.com

It wasn’t the first time I’d had run ins with slugs, but it was the first time I had ever grown anything in this much abundance. Not a nominal amount that had been the case when it was a potted garden in the big smoke with 1-2 hours of sunlight. No here, I had much more sunlight and things (after a few trial and errors) were actually growing.

I proudly showed several heads of lettuces off on instagram, and really it had all be pretty darn exciting watching things grow and then following that up by eating them. We even toyed with the idea of there nearly being enough to cancel our vegetable box delivery. Options like that were suddenly no longer sounding completely unachievable.

And then the slugs moved in.

One evening, dusk was snaking it’s way in and I had ventured out to the compost. Suddenly I’m stopped in my tracks by a multitude of glistening bodies, slimebagging their way along my prize winning* vegetables. Cue stampede music and old school horror music piano pieces. Those little bastards? They were everywhere.

I start picking them off. I keep picking them off. I get a container, and still keep picking them off.

Everywhere.

They are bloody everywhere. At this rate I won’t have a vegetable in sight by the end of the week. I traipse inside, slip my shoes off as they have become a little slidey from all the slug guts and declare war on the slime bags. Vowing words of action the very next day.

Except I didn’t.

I actually forgot the next day.

So when I hear a concerned voice coming in from the back door, (after a visit to the compost again) saying “…there’s a lot of slugs out there tonight!”. I write a post-it-note with a big black marker and stick it on my forehead for first thing tomorrow. Must sort that slug issue out.

slugs 05 || cityhippyfarmgirl.comslugs 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl.com

So what are your options when you have a plague of slugs stampeding across your carefully tendered urban permaculture patch?

Eggshells… you are supposed to keep them dry and the sheer amount I would need to try to make this work didn’t seem workable.

Beer traps…I have done this, but it’s simply not enough. I’d have to have a beer filled moat for this to be effective and with a wandering whippet (whom I suspect would be a bit of a light weight drinker) it’s not really a long term option either.

Ducks… I like the idea, actually I love the idea! But…I’m not there yet, and again, not sure about the whippet.

Grow extra’s… I actually do have enough lettuce to share (regrettably) with my slimebag friends, however they’ve taken more than their share and are simply not playing fair.

Slug and snail bait… nah, not going to happen.

Copper…I’d read that I could strip wires and use the copper parts as a barrier method to stop them. I didn’t have any wires, and didn’t have the time before my vegetables are reduced to stubs to go seek some to strip. A quick trip to the hardware store get’s me back home with 8 metres of copper tape. I thought about taping the beds up Mission Impossible laser style scene, but decided that’s probably overkill at this stage considering I don’t even know if these things will work. I go with the disco look instead and line the edges. Not enough of the edges but if it works**, I’ll get more and disco everywhere the slimebags lurk.

So did it work?

First night, I can’t see any slugs in the garden that had been previously looking like Bondi Beach in the middle of summer. I had wrapped the tape around all the edges. The garden beds where I had only done a portion of the tape, the bodies once again glistened in the light. So at a quick look, I’d say yes, yes it did work where I had placed the tape all the way round.

The following day was all day slug weather, the slimebags didn’t even have to wait until dusk had set, as it was so wet and bleak out there they could just munch on down, breakfast, lunch and dinner. My problem was I hadn’t finished the taping and couldn’t do it again until the garden bed edges were dry so it would adhere properly.

Once again, I go inside mumbling war cries and take off slippery shoes from slug guts.

Will the copper tape keep the suckers at bay? Not sure, to be continued folks…

In the mean time What are some of your tried and true methods for slug control? Or something you’ve tried and it didn’t work?

*************

*Yes, I know I haven’t actually won any awards.

 

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27 thoughts on “…and then the slugs moved in

  1. What about diatomaceous earth? We use it in our garden to control a whole lot of pests. It’s food grade so won’t hurt any one, and is actually good for the soil too.

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  2. Many local organic producers in the area swear by having water for the birds, it invites them in your garden, they’ll take care of your pests on the way out.

    I’ve got a pretty wild garden, stuff growing everywhere, one big green jungle. If you see a row, it won’t be longer then half a meter. Not exactly magazine material pretty, unless you like closeups, but producing beyond belief. I’ve got tomatoes growing in 8 different places, 10 lettuce varieties in as many different place. I might loose 1 plant to pests (years ago), but not all of them. Pretty rows of lettuce feels to much like a banquet. In my garden they get all confused about the different scents, shapes and plants that bringing their own pests and pest control, it creates a new balance.
    (Our garden is based on Linda Woodrow’s mandala garden, with a pond in the middle).

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    • That sounds so dreamy and a lot like my garden Marijke! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks wondering how (and if) I was going to tackle my overgrown garden or just leave it and today it “just happened”. Before I knew it, the whole day had gone by and it’s pretty much done – cleaned up. It wasn’t difficult at all and was so rewarding! So far the slugs haven’t got to the one and only self seeded lettuce I have. I am absolutely amazed at how abundant it is this year – minus veggies (except for a few rogue tomato plants). There are so many plants just flourishing! I’m going to try and spend tomorrow planting flower seeds among the already existing flowers. Hopefully I’m not too late seeing as Spring has already hit. I think I’ll do the same thing you’ve done, but not in a Mandala, and just randomly plant some lettuces and spinach. They’re the things I like being able to pick fresh as they go off too quickly if you buy them from the supermarket. I’ll see what else grabs my fancy but I can’t overdo it as there’s not much room with all the flowers flourishing as they are and I don’t want to pull those out!

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    • I agree! Spreading out the seedlings has helped me too, and doing companion planting as well. It’s not pretty, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, and I love messy wild fruitful gardens

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    • Linda Woodrow is fantastic isn’t she. And I say that kind of garden makes for the best magazine pictures Marijke! If you were a little closer I’d happily come and take pictures 🙂
      So yes, I’m all for a rambling garden, being only eight months into it, it’s still got a while to go but with little steps we are getting there. Biointensive planting has definitely been a lot more successful with the plantings and things are certainly all over the shop in a calculated way.
      My neighbour 20 metres away doesn’t have one slug amazingly.

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  3. Argh – I have the same problem!! I’ve tried the tape – but just couldn’t cover everything, eggshells – they worked for a while but then mulched into the soil, and the beer was just a waste. It’s so upsetting after putting so much work in. I like the sound of the chili and garlic spray as I too don’t want to use pellets or nasties in the garden. Oh, and I have recently installed a bird bath but not sure it’s helped any, though it was for decorative rather than extermination purposes! Good luck for future crops. They looked like prize-winners to me 🙂

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  4. OMG.. how painful. Watching all that good enegry disappear over night. I used to just succumb to pet friendly baits. But as said pet is aging, and not chasing the birds as much, i have more flying friends. I’ve also worked pretty hard at creating safe places for the blue tongues to live. In spring they do their bit too. Its got to be a joint effort in permaculture. Good luck!

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  5. I don’t have many ordinary slugs here as ducky eats anything outside Sanctuary and the enormous…ENORMOUS leopard slugs eat the ones inside. The only problem is that my leopard slugs like it both ways but I guess I can’t expect everything…

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  6. I am a proud producer of monster slugs on this coast, as well. And having said goodbye to my last duck a couple of months back, the problem is only going to get worse. If you can find where they are hiding during the day time, that helps. Then you can hunt them out in their lair! My ducks really were the very best slug predators. I didn’t let them in to the vegetable garden that often (although they were in heaven when I did), but we would go on bedtime night stalks with our head torches, fill up a container with a tightly fitting lid, then feed it to our girls the next day. Some very happy moments were had watching my girls devour the beasts, and knowing they would be converting them into delicious rich egg yolks. Beer traps work well, and are best with a bit of a lid to keep out the rain, sprinkler, or whippet as the case may be. Cheap wine works just as well to fill them – and I always feel the need to explain to the bottle ship attendant my reason for buying the goon/lager, so they don’t think I am going on a bender on a Monday morning. The iron chelate snail/slug pellets are certified organic, break down into your soil, and are safe for dogs and wildlife. I have no problem using them. I’ve never had much luck with egg shells, but you can sprinkle your coffee grounds around your plants. The caffeine gives the critters a cardiac arrest. You’ll probably always have a few lurking around, but as long as you can find them before they end up on the dinner table, you should be okay! xx

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  7. When nature gives you slugs, make escargot! That’s what one of my girlfriends does anyways. The catch is that you have to contain them and give them cornmeal for a bit to avoid any pesticides they encountered prior to your lettuce patch.

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  8. Wouldn’t it be good if slugs tasted like chicken. I’m sure they don’t so that won’t be helpful. I don’t have a slug problem. I think the only time I’ve had slugs is when I’ve attempted to grow strawberries. I do grow stuff all over the place though.

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  9. Pingback: That’s a wrap | cityhippyfarmgirl

  10. Pingback: The Garden that Grows | cityhippyfarmgirl

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