Thursday, May 24, 2012

Midnight raiders

I've been working; Tuesday night, it was too late when I stopped to even consider blogging. Tonight (well, this morning), I called it a day around 1 A.M., and went out to look at my garden. Even in the middle of the night, I love it.

It's been a bad year for slugs. They've been eating my young hostas as fast as they sprout. They ate half of my lupin seedlings, and every single lettuce that dared to raise its tiny head above the soil. I don't mind a slug or two, but - three separate plantings of lettuce gone? And every morning a new casualty or three among my other plants? This means war!

I found an article on an Irish gardening site, "Slugs ~ 15 ways to deal with them organically". Dee, the blogger, mentions someone who uses my method. I go out armed with scissors, and cut them in half. Sounds terrible, but I think they suffer less than they do with other methods, like salt or boiling water. I've tried eggshells; they only seem to work when there are very few slugs about. I haven't tried drowning them in beer, but that works first by attracting them from farther away; so does commercial slug bait, which I have used.

 Tonight, a big slug was taking advantage of the dark to feast on my new hellebores. Not good. I went for the scissors. And, while I was at it, the camera, set on Scenes: Night Portrait.

Still not full grown; about 3 inches long, and slender.

A smaller slug and an earwig, snacking on leftover sunflower seed shells.

They're beautiful, I know. And normally, I'd let them live. But not this year.

While I was out there, I sat and looked at the flowers. In the dark, they stand out against the black greenery; the background disappears, walling off the pool of dim light, creating a private, intimate retreat. Were it not so cold, I'd still be sitting on my stool, back to the window.

Before I came back inside, I took a few "Portraits" of the flowers.

Pink rhododendron

Bleeding heart, a white columbine propped up with a stick because a raccoon knocked it over, and astilbe just budding. The slugs haven't touched these, so far.

The shy lily-of-the-valley really shines at night. Slugs nibble on the young leaves, but don't usually destroy the entire plant.

Dee lists coffee grounds among the possible slug controls. (Method 9) That, or spraying them with cold coffee. I think I'll try that next. Repelling them makes more sense to me than murdering them.


  1. Thanks for the link. I've tried egg shells, coffee grounds, sand and beer (but I do hate to share a perfectly good brew). I'm going to try the garlic spray since I have a lot of garlic left over from last year and plenty new coming up. I'm also going to try the grapefruit domes. I've also hear putting rhubarb leaves out serves a similar purpose. - Margy

  2. I take it that the coffee grounds didn't work, so you're trying something else. Is that right?

    My neighbour has rhubarb. Maybe I'll get a few leaves from him and try that.

  3. This remedy might sound a little gross but it works. Get an old blender from 2nd hand or flea market to dedicate to the recipe. Collect as many slugs as possible and blend them up with water. Spray this concoction wherever they're a problem. I just used an old windex bottle. No more ruined foliage,happy, healthy clean salad days are here again. May have to be repeated after heavy rainfall.
    The way i collected them was by stabbing with a fork, i had several long tined forks from value village, stuck in the soil here and there around the garden so one was available nearby whenever i needed it.


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