Posts Tagged ‘gardening tips’

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? ….

Get Your Gardening Tips Here!

September 4, 2009

It’s that time of year again. The flowers and vegetables are mature, tomatoes are ripening, Jack Frost is breathing over us from the horizon. Time to take a good look at your gardens, maybe do some fall planting or transplanting and reflect on what you’ve learned from this year’s gardening mistakes and triumphs. I’ve got a few tips that might prove helpful to you as you update your list of summer gardening do-s and don’t-s.

First of all, if you must grow hollyhocks, then plant them in a sunny spot, so they don’t have to lurch up to 8-9 feet tall, groping for the sun over a tall fence. Of course, they work well in corners framed by tall fences and so they grow and grow and grow and then bud and finally in early August they bloom (if they haven’t already been completely consumed by slugs and fungus).

our lone standing hollyhock

our lone standing hollyhock

Then they fall over, squashing the tall marigolds or whatever else you’ve planted for show under their canopy. So … Tip #1: Have a few bungee cords handy to tie up the hollyhocks when they fall over, because they surely will – like, for example, on August 10th if your mother in-law is arriving for a visit on Aug 11. I was shocked when I glanced at our back corner garden. “Hey, where did all those hollyhocks your mother planted disappear to?” – I queried my husband, David, who was relaxing in his chair on the deck. I went charging back there to find the hollyhocks lying complacently on the ground. “Geez! You’re freaking kidding!” David quickly arrived with several bungee cords and magically affixed them all vertical again.
Hubby saves the day

Hubby saves the day

They looked pretty good, 40 feet away, from our chairs on the deck, which is where we stealthily reposed with his mother while she was here.

I guess cutesy, decorative, knee-high, wrought-iron, tomato-cage-like, fence sections would work too, there’s probably a name for these, but I didn’t feel up to going to a greenhouse in the middle of August asking the clerk for ‘cutesy, decorative, knee-high, wrought-iron, tomato-cage-like, fence sections’ to prop up our hollyhocks. So, Tip # 2: If you plan to grow hollyhocks and don’t want to spring for bungee cords (no pun intended) you might invest in the above props if you know what it is I am actually describing. If you already have them, and/or have had them for years, then, never mind.

Moving on to the next subject, I planted several rows of a lettuce mix in May and I have harvested it a couple of times. It was tasty! When the lettuce got to about 4-5 inches tall I simply clipped it back with a pair of scissors. Then I soaked the leaves in a large glass bowl in the kitchen sink, being careful to pick out every 2-inch piece of grass that had been blasted into the lettuce out the side of the lawn mower earlier that evening. That’s right. Dinner was delayed by yet an additional half hour as I picked the 100 or so pieces of grass out of the fifty or so leaves of lettuce I had harvested for our salad. Tip # 3: When you are mowing the lawn you might consider either attaching your grass catcher or positioning the mower along the garden so as to project the grass clippings in the opposite direction of the lettuce. This is a prudent pro-active step if you wish to keep the duty of salad preparation to manageable proportions and to keep from sending whoever is making the salad off the deep end.

I re-harvested the lettuce a couple of times until it got too bitter to eat – okay the lettuce was done now, and I could dig it up and plant seeds anew! This was the end of July and there was still time to grow another batch. But I didn’t. Instead our family went on that 4-day trip to Coeur D’Alene. Which brings me to Tip #4: Never leave your garden unattended for more than 24 hours. Because you can’t afford to lose precious time, energy and attention necessary to battle the weeds, fungus, insects, slugs, drought, pets, birds and squirrels. You play, you pay! Get your butt out there and work in your garden every day!

No, I didn’t plant more lettuce. I just left it there and it grew really big. And ugly.

Meet 'Jackomena'

Meet 'Jackomena'

I don’t want to hurt myself pulling it out. The lettuce has gotten so big and nasty that we are just going to leave it there and let it freeze to death. Which brings me to Tip # 5 : Leave it to ‘Jack Frost’ and ‘Old Man Winter’ (five-plus months worth here) to eliminate any mature obnoxious plants that you may or may not have planted.

Tip # 6: If you think you have a problem that may be due to soil conditions you might consider having your soil tested. If so, you should send the soil samples off now because it can take several weeks to get the results back. I remember this every spring when it’s too late to do it, maybe because I really don’t want to know what’s in our soil. We’ve had some pretty strange things crawling out of our soil and growing out of it. I know you can test for such things as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and iron but I’m starting to wonder if our vegetable garden soil might contain hormones. Like maybe I should have our soil tested to see if it contains unusual levels of … um … testosterone??

Just a thought. I dug this, uh, ‘stud-man’ carrot dude up yesterday, trying to make more room for the baby carrots. Baby carrots? Maybe I should dig up a few more carrots to try and figure out what kind of wing-ding’s goin’ down underground in our carrot patch.

Tip # 7: One can always consider running in the opposite direction from anything remotely associated with ‘the garden.’ Focus your energies reading in your chair on the deck, doing crossword puzzles, spending time on your computer planning long, relaxing summer vacations and pleasure cruises. Long, relaxing vacations and pleasure cruises? Really? Yeah, but, wouldn’t I miss our hollyhocks?

Would you like to hear my tips on gardening attire?