Archive for July, 2017

The Continuing Battle with Slugs (… Continued)

July 10, 2017

Part II – Boy, I sure did come up with a nifty solution to controlling garden slugs – containing little piles of slug bait in plastic open-ended water bottles, setting them under bushes in my garden, facing away from the sprinklers, ‘come here little sluggies’ – good to go!

I put those plastic baited bottles out on a Sunday about two weeks ago.

By the way, I’ve investigated several non-toxic ways to control slugs – and settled on ‘slug bait’ per elimination of options, as follows:

(1) Crush eggshells into small bits and spread around your plants. You need a boat load of eggshells, by the way. Plus, think about it. The slugs drag their bodies over the sharp edges of the shells and cut themselves to death. Too violent!

(2) Fill large jar lids with beer and a little yeast and place lids flush to the ground in your garden – This concoction will attract the slugs, they crawl in and drown. Death of slugs by drowning? Isn’t this a waste of good beer? Alcohol abuse! Plus, how can you enjoy your flower beds knowing you have to deal with those stinky lids containing drowned slugs?

(3) Wake yourself up at 2 am to catch the slugs in action and hand pick them off your plants. (Don’t think so.)

(4) Use organic slug bait. They eat it and disappear.

Case dismissed.

Perfect! I set out 6 half-bottles of bait nestled under plants and bushes in our gardens … (as explained in my previous blog).

Set under the bush facing away from sprinkler – brilliant!

Over the next few days the sprinklers ran twice and I gave no thought to slugs or slug bait, the flowers were doing fine, thank-you. However, the dog started acting strange. Not his usual hyper self, he would stay in bed in the morning when we got up instead of bouncing up to greet us. He whined a bit during the day, hid under the dining room table, and would get up and shake his head – did he have an ear infection or something? He wasn’t eating normally either.

Then on Thursday night, four days after putting that bait out, I let Rudy out to ‘go potty’ before bed. Hey, where is he? I waited by the back door and finally called him. He came running to the back door – what is that stuck to his nose? One of those plastic bottles of slug bait! Stuck to his nose like a honey jar! Oh my goodness! Has he been into those all week? I was careful to shove them way back under the bushes so they wouldn’t been seen! Plus, this one had been saturated with the sprinklers and the bait had formed into a soup – apparently yummy to slugs and miniature poodles. OMG!

I read the label on the slug bait in detail. It said, “Harmful to pets, may sting their eyes?’ Huh?

I ran Rudy to the vet the very next morning (Friday). Besides being in need of a serious teeth cleaning, the vet also discovered a hard lump on his left side. Cancer! That’s what I get for my carelessness and willingness to talk myself into using chemicals in the yard. Your pets get into them and develop cancer and die young! (Rudy is nine years old.)

So the following Monday the vet put Rudy under to clean his teeth and remove the lump. When we picked him up Monday evening (8 days after I put that slug bait out) – the vet explained, Rudy had one broken molar which they removed, along with his bottom front four teeth. (Those teeth must have been giving him a lot of pain.) His expression went from his pre-surgery “let me tell you something with my lower front teeth”:

“Please give me that steak off your plate”

To, uh, post-surgery inverted fangs:

‘Give me the steak off your plate or I’ll puncture you with venom”

Rudy’s lump turned out to be benign, thank goodness, a warning to pay acute attention to the toxicity of every chemical we use, in and outside the house. The slug bait is non-toxic to dogs, birds and humans as well. The vet called the manufacturer to confirm this. Whew!

There are several brands of slug bait that are approved for organic gardening. (“Sluggo’ is one.) We used this brand:

and it says right on the front that it is approved for organic gardening. There really is no excuse not to use a non-toxic slug bait, especially if you have pets. Of course, our neighbor with the immaculate gardens who gave me her expert advice of putting slug bait out in plastic bottles, doesn’t have a dog – another reason her gardens stay in immaculate shape!

One more note, it says in several places in the fine print on the label “use product as directed.” It even states separately, “It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” The label says to “scatter bait granules, ensuring uniform coverage around the plants, .5 – 1 tsp, per square yard. Do not place in piles.” (!!) ( Does it count if the piles are inside plastic water bottles cut in half?)

Yeah, so I removed the bottles of bait ASAP after Rudy’s exposure. Except for one, because I only found five, when I had put out six, they were so well hidden. But not to worry. Rudy found the sixth one, fished it out from under some tall plants in the back corner garden.

Rudy saves the day, uh, sorta

Moral of story, if you must use chemicals, make sure they are non-toxic, read the directions for use on the label, and follow the directions on the label.

As for Rudy, he’s back to his old self again, albeit he’s not so frisky and adept at chasing and snagging his frisbee in the back yard – he misses those bottom teeth!

But he’s eating just fine now. In fact, so fine, that he pooped four times on our walk through the neighborhood yesterday. Good thing I was carrying extra bags. Retrieving those doggy nuggets can be a challenge. I’ve decided as an added bonus for you, dear reader, for reading this far, I’d post a puzzle, a little brain exercise here at the end, a little surprise, if you will, called, “Find the turd” (compliments of Rudy):

A doggie exercise for your brain – did you find the nugget?

Yeah, well now I’d like to figure out what the hell’s going on with our ‘hen and chicken’ patch.

Should I lop those, shall I say, ‘protrusions’ off so as to avert a full-blown alien invasion? Is it radon exposure? Are those sex organs? Is this normal? Shouldn’t the hen and chickens just fill out into a flat succulent bed? Do these plants come with directions?

Gardening Blog # 18: The Continuing Battle with Slugs

July 7, 2017

So much of my spring and summer decompressing seems to involve gardening, so much so, that I’ve already blogged about it 17 times. My gardening blogs are a treasure trove for the would-be expert gardener, documenting my real life experience on such topics as how to grow well endowed man-carrots, how to separate 1/2″ grass clippings from your harvested lettuce (you don’t), how to re-erect hollyhocks toppled and laid flush to the ground by their top-heavy blossoms (creatively applied bungee cords), and how to distinguish goathead weed from pigweed. You will read all about this and more in my previous blogs.

During the last year or two I blogged about our incessant slug problem. I even collected several slugs on a plate, took a close up photo and posted the photo on my blog. It was a disgusting photo, which was good, because then you would be as happy as I was at the end of my blog when the slugs were all poisoned and dead. Here, I have resurrected the photo:

“Oh joy.”

Except, slugs are so hardy, hungry and prolific, the advice I offered at the end of my blog was to simply stop planting flowers and plants they gorge on, like marigolds, zinnias and salvia. But I love those annuals. No matter how much I vow to change up my garden from year to year, I always end up with basically the same garden: a few late blooming perennial corn flowers, interspersed with dazzling yellow marigolds, red, orange, and purple salvia, and perky wide-eyed zinnias, which, to a garden slug, is a 24/7 Thanksgiving buffet.

Well, early this summer I happened into a long conversation with a savvy, horticulturally gifted, green-thumbed neighbor (as evidenced by her highly respected, stunning and immaculate lawn and gardens) – on a stroll. She caught me digging weeds out furiously in one neglected garden and stopped to chat. She was impressed with the looks of our front maple tree, she said, and wondered what could be wrong with hers that it was looking sickly. (Aphids, come to mind.)

Our conversation very quickly turned to slugs. Now, considering my neighbor a gardening genius, imagine my elation and relief when she freely offered me her secret to controlling garden slugs. Of course it involves slug bait. You sprinkle the granules around each already-chewed plant when the ground is damp, after watering. Except, as soon as you water again, the bait is washed away and the slugs are right back chewing your plants down to the nubs. So, what you do, and my neighbor has been doing this for years, is save a few small empty water bottles; screw the lids back on. You cut each bottle in half, and in each half you sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of bait. Then you set the bottles of bait under plants and bushes facing away from the sprinklers. The slugs come after the bait, and the bait stays dry and protected from the sprinklers. Cool!

I was on it immediately.

Exhibit A: Average every day empty water bottle:

Exhibit B: Slug bait

Exhibit C: Voila!

Exhibit D: 6 of them well-hidden under plants and bushes, (or so I thought):

Can you see the bait? Perfect! Check that duty off for the summer. Take that, you slimy, disgusting, leaf-knawing, garden-wrecking slugs! Now watch as our gardens grow and fill out into carnivals of succulent leaves and blossoms!

Yeah. That’s the idea. So what could possibly go wrong here? ….