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Have you tried talking to them?

I tried as best as I could not to look completely bewildered. All I wanted was a solution to my slug problem. I had tried to keep everything in my small plot of vegetables as organic and earth friendly as possible. I didn't want to resort to Slug Death just yet, not without a proper fight.

If you explain to them how you feel about the destruction, they might listen.

That morning, I'd gone out to check on my plantlings, only to find the cabbages, which the day before were showing such promise, almost completely annihilated. One of the culprits was perched atop the remainder of one of the small, struggling cabbages and I could swear I saw him nod his head at me in thanks. It was infuriating.

You see, we are all in this together.

The city garden and compost center was just at the end of my block and I figured if anyone would know how to deal with slugs, in an Earth friendly manner, it would be them. The man I was talking to seemed, at first, to be knowledgeable and wise. His hands were dirty from working the community plots and as he spoke with me, he continued to weed the small patch of azaleas outside the front of the building.

On Planet Earth, we are all united on a common front. We are struggling to survive with an ever decreasing amount of food supply. Most living organisms are willing to cooperate. We just need to break down the boundaries that prevent us from communicating with one another.

Right.


"Slugs be gone! Shoo! Go away!"

I didn’t have anything to lose, really. I had never attempted to speak with bugs before, so I couldn't completely discredit the idea without first testing it out. I thought the direct approach would be best.

"Why are you yelling?"

My neighbor, Steve, had come out to see what I was doing. He was eating trail mix and offered me some.

"I'm trying to convince the slugs to stop eating my vegetables," I replied.

Steve didn't look fazed in the least. He tucked his long hair behind his ear and gave me his serious look.

"No need to shout. Look how small they are. You're just going to piss them off. Speak gently, softly, encourage them to go," he told me.

I repeated my directives, in a near whisper, remembering to be polite.

"Give them alternatives, like maybe directions to the compost. They're not just going to stop eating your cabbage if it means starvation," he continued.

"Hey, what are you guys doing?"

It was my roommate, Victoria, sipping on a beet/carrot juice, in her yoga gear.

"[Liontamer] is asking the slugs to leave her cabbage alone," Steve told her.

"In what language?" she asked

"English!" I shouted.

"Are you sure they understand English?" she asked.

"What?" I'd never thought of that.

"I mean. Maybe they don't understand English. Have you ever heard a slug speak English?" Victoria was taking the whole thing very seriously.

"So what do they speak? Spanish? Are these Latino slugs? Or better yet, maybe they speak Chinese or Arabic?" I asked.

"Slugs don't speak any language!" came a deep, angry voice from the next yard.

It was Al.

"Slugs don't speak," he continued.

To be honest, the three of us were as surprised that Al spoke as we would have been had the slugs replied to us in a chorus. Al was the crotchety, 80+ year old neighbor who preferred the company of squirrels and pigeons to humans. For him to actually speak to us was more ground breaking than the slugs listening to us.

"You've been talking to that pansy-ass, baby-eating communist swine at the garden center, haven't you. He's always got some lovey-dovey ideas that don’t do jack shit. You don't talk to slugs. You kill slugs. Here, use this Slug Death."

And with that, he placed a box of the slug poison on the fence separating our yards.

As he walked away, I swear I heard him mutter something about "stupid, hippie kids" under his breath.


I learned later in the summer that other than speaking with slugs or sprinkling your garden with toxic chemicals, there are a couple of methods of discouraging them from your vegetables.

Egg Shell Method: You'll need a lot of egg shells that you have either collected over the winter or that you have begged from the busy breakfast restaurant down the street. In my experience, if you ask nicely, they'll think you are weird, but they will collect them for you. All you need to do is break them up, not into a fine power, but so there are a lot of jagged edges and sprinkle them around the perimeter of your garden. Slugs have delicate bodies and will cut themselves on the sharp edges of the eggshells. Also, eggshells are biodegradable and will add nutrients to you soil, so this is a win-win method.

Beer Trap Method: Like most of us, slugs like beer. I'm not joking. They are attracted by the smell, will crawl into a cup of beer, start swilling and either because they are intoxicated or because their slimy bodies become wet, they can't get out again. They drown. End of slugs. Throughout your garden, you need to set up beer traps by submerging plastic cups into the ground. Slugs are no connoisseurs, so the beer does not have to be fresh and you can fill these up with whatever is left from your last party. Guaranteed you will find at least one, if not half a dozen or more, dead slugs in each of your traps the next morning. It is best to dispose of the corpses as soon as possible since they do not smell nice after a couple days. This method works, but is not as effective since the culprits might find your cabbage before they find your beer.

Amphibian Method: Akasha says You could also use natural biological pest control (i.e. animals such as newts, frogs, toads). To encourage them to stay in your area, keep a small area or corner of the yard moist at all times, or install a small pond.

Copper Method: khym chanur says I remember reading, years ago, that you can keep out slugs by surrounding your garden with a thin strip of copper. Supposedly, this will react to the electrolytes in the slug's slime and give them a shock. I have no idea if this works, though.

Ninja Method: vilk says Actually, you could also release specially-trained ninja death slugs into your garden. They kill and subsist only on air and the balance in all things.

Caffeine Method: Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Hawaii have discovered, mostly by accident, that caffeine kills slugs. 2% concentrations of caffeine send the creatures into spastic death and lower concentrations (100 times weaker) were found to effectively repel the villains. Products based on this new finding probably won't be availble for some time since studies on the effect of high concentrations of caffeine on plants must now be conducted. If you're feeling adventurous, however, you could dry dousing the monsters in your morning dregs of coffee.

Thanks to Apatrix for the link to the above info:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2067000/2067214.stm The Librarian says: How very curious, I have to admit I always liked the beer trap method. In our garden we had to fill it daily. Over the course of the day and the evening the slugs would become victims, then our local hedgehog would visit, eat the slugs, drink the beer and fall over. You have no idea how amusing a drunk hedgehog can be.

dem bones says: My new plan is building a string/hemp matrix above the patch itself - about 4-6 inches off the ground ... I hang the stemmed berries over the string and they site in the air like little hanging globes. Not only do I dodge the slugs, but no muddy or waterlogged berries - just perfectly shaped goodnes It's a lot of work if your patch is really big, but mine is only 10 feet by 4 feet or so.

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