Gardening Blog # 18: The Continuing Battle with Slugs

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? ….

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