Friday, July 17, 2009

Slug Fest '09

While looking for a good place in the backyard to build an ark in anticipation of the eventual flood from the 40 days of rain we've been experiencing, I took a walk around the garden and noticed the plants each had 5-8 slugs on them. What really set me over the edge was the slug that wrapped itself around a new bud on my fig tree and then ate the entire thing. Normally I say live and let live, but now this was personal. Just as my father declared war on the neighborhood squirrels after they broke into his birdfeeder, so now I, too, declared war against the slugs.

I don't like pesticides of any kind, so preferred to stick with more natural preventatives. Looking through the fridge, I chose what was on hand - Sam Adams Light. It was a shame pouring a bottle of Sam into a shallow purple bowl and to set out in the garden for the slugs, but sacrifices are necessary in time of war.

The next morning I did a preliminary investigation of the bowl and was rewarded with 8 slugs that had drowned in the sudsy foam of doom. I felt a slight twinge of guilt but knew I had to reduce the slimy menace from my beloved little garden.

After work I checked again. It was Happy Hour at the new bar in the middle of my garden. A crowd of slugs surrounded the bowl and more were making a distinct beeline for it.

The next day, I found more slugs and realized I needed to refill the bowl with beer, but I didn't want to fill it with the good stuff again. I went across the street to the local package store to view the selection. Ultimately I chose O'Doul's so see if the slugs would go for a non-alcoholic malt beverage. Based on what I saw over the next couple days, it doesn't matter if its alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer. Slugs love them both and it'll save you some decent cash in the long run to go for non-alcoholic.

Although the beer worked its magic, there were still a decent amount of slugs remaining on the plants. In doing some research, I discovered that while slugs love malt, they hate caffeine. Since I rarely drink coffee, I have to rely on my wife to supply me with grounds from her morning coffee. Every morning, I sprinkle the coffee grounds around the edge of the garden. Since coffee grounds are great as fertilizer, it's also good for the overall garden health.

The result has been a dramatic drop in slug activity in my garden. Now the beer trough only catches an occasional slug here and there, the ones that happen to get by the caffeine border surrounding my garden. For the moment, I'm winning the war against the slugs and so will keep up my vigilance and step up my efforts when I notice an increase in slug activity. I still hold out hope that we'll get warmer, drier days to come, because I really don't want to move forward with building an ark.


Carole said...

We all have to draw the line somewhere. Great thinking on the coffee grounds! My personal line is drawn with the mice who somehow manage to get inside the house and into my kitchen. That is just too much for me, love of wildlife or not!

Pam J. said...

Coffee grounds as a slug preventative! Perfect! I dump coffee grounds in my garden (or worm bins) twice a day. Now I'll just be sure to sprinkle them around my veggie garden. Thanks for the tip. (And I hope your rain heads south; we need it here in the DC area.)

adventuresingardening said...

I'm pretty surprised this worked. I've not had this particular problem (I'm expecting it, any day now), but I now people who went to extraordinary lengths, and never got results.

I always said I'd heard ground eggshells work, but I imagine that coffee grounds are ubiquitous and are easier to, well, grind =) Works better for more folks. Thanks for the details.

adventuresingardening said...

Go to sleep, Roy.

What I meant to say:

I'm glad to hear this worked. I've heard that crushed eggshells work for this, but think that coffee grounds are available and, well, already crushed. Makes it a lot easier. Thanks for doing and sharing.

Steven Ashley said...

Thanks for the comments, We're getting another bout of rain, so I've already built up my collection of coffee grounds and O'Douls.

Garden Anatomy said...

Very interesting and Green way of getting rid of the slugs. I might give that a try. The idea to sprinkle ground coffe sounds even better. I might even use used stuff from the coffee maker and save it from going to the garbage dump which creates hazadous gases there as opposed to my garden where it helps my garden rather then hurting the environment.