Thursday, April 1, 2010
Slugging it Out
This time of year, plantings are in full swing and seedlings that have been aching to get out of the greenhouse finally get their chance. Some of our early plantings, such as spinach and lettuce have been in the ground for some time now, having survived the initial shock of transplanting. But as many gardeners know, they aren’t home free yet. No matter whether it’s vegetables that are being cultivated or planted flowers for decoration, one of the biggest pests is probably garden slugs. Slugs look like snails without the shells. They slime their way along either in the early morning or in the evening when everything is covered with dew. They also come out after a rain to look for plants to feed on. If slugs are let into the garden, they'll soon take over. Before that happens, there are a few easy to use remedies that will help curb the invasion of these voracious eaters. First, table salt is a slug's worst enemy Salt spells an end to slugs just as slugs make up the demise of out tasty veggies. Simply sprinkling a little table salt on the bodies of the garden slugs will "melt" them right before your eyes. Just be careful not to get any salt on your plants, or this could cause them to become dangerously dessicated.. Second, apparently recycled eggshells can act as a deterrent. This may be a fairly labor intensive solution that many may not have time for, but often slugs won’t cross over certain rough materials, such as eggshells. Eggshells can be recycled for the garden to get rid of bothersome garden slugs. The shells must be broken up so they're in small pieces and then placed around vegetable or flower plants that are to be protected. A third solution, household ammonia, can serve a dual purpose in the garden. Filling a spray with 50% tap water and 50% household ammonia and spraying it directly on the slugs will eradicate them. In addition to slug removal, the ammonia will help fertilize the plants. Lastly, the remedy that we have implemented is beer. This is a simple, inexpensive solution that does not require both gardener and slug to be present at the same time. We used small saucers and a slug trap, each filled with about a half-inch of beer found left out at the Arboretum. The slugs will be attracted to the beer, climb in and become trapped once inside. But, once inside, they'll be trapped! After you've trapped a number of slugs, the beer can be dumped and replaced with a fresh brew.