Friday, 6 June 2008

''Sluggish'' encounters

'' Rain, rain go away, come again some other day ...''

This week has been a favorable one for slugs (and slug picking). You'd think ' What is she on about?' It's hardly been a month since I moaned about how dry our spring was and how walking around with a hose was a daily routine. Well, just for that, someone up there has decided to pick on yet another gardener and send down oodles of rain, thunders, hail, and that dulling humidity. I've been reading about all the tornadoes and mad storms in the US and realized that we don't even know how lucky we are, we have had some bad summer storms, trees flying about and stuff but we literally don't know the meaning of the word 'twister' and all that horror. We've got subway crossings under water, cars stuck in flooded roads, river Sava flooding its outer beds, a serious flood danger after too much rain, but at least our homes don't fly away. And we can only stand in awe and shock watching the aftermath of Myanmar cyclones and similar disasters. So I think we are rather fortunate in that matter.

And now back to slugs, my primary focus this week. Why did I choose them as my topic today? Was it for the fact that I have just found a dozen of gigantic slugs (bigger than me) in my Hosta bed? Or maybe it was the whole part of the Lupin bed that has mysteriously disappeared just when it was about to display its wonderful blooms? Or is it the horror in the veg garden and the salad beds? It's all that, and then some. My dad is quite brutal when it comes to slugs, he goes about with his mini-torch and just burns them to death, or stabs them on the long metal bar while creating his very own type of shish kebab. He's also one of those people who think beer traps are a serious waste of beer. Years ago I've talked him out of using the non-organic, highly toxic and wrongly tagged 'wildlife-friendly' slug pellets, making quite an effort to prove that there is no such thing if it consists of Metaldehyde and methiocarb, a pair of mean killers that allow no antidotes. Never mind the victim. I have also found it quite cruel to put salt on slugs. It just seems way too brutal and painful for any living being to experience. And slugs are, after all, living beings, with a bad and incurable habit to pick on gardeners and spoil their flowery dreams. Being greedy is yet another of their many virtues, but then again, who are humans to preach about greediness. My favourite weapon of revenge are the beer traps (at least they die drunk and happy), Diatomaceous earth and the likes of it, whose effect fades away with first drops of rain, just as fast as they cross the copper wire.

munching away on Kniphofia

Sometimes I just throw them over the fence. They probably don't endure much longer over there as my omnipresent neighbour walks about with scissors cutting them in half. Did I mention her before? She's a lovely old lady with a spirit and zeal of a teenager (and a pair of scissors in her pocket, ever since I talked her out of using slug poison too), who spends days and days protecting and loving both her perennial and vegetable garden, and proudly fights the handicaps her age has afflicted upon her. I know it is impossible to get rid of them once and for all, I think our moist climate even with the extremes of hot and cold is still idyllic for them. The only method I haven't tried and am thinking of trying are Nematodes, but that also seems a painful death. Any experience anyone?

Did you know that...
  • each cubic meter of soil contains about 200 slugs
  • slugs have approximately 25 000 teeth
  • slugs consume around twice their body weight per day
  • they can have up to 90 000 grandchildren ( talk about baby boom)
  • some slugs only live on rotting vegetation so those in the compost heap, you should leave them be
  • young slugs stay underground feeding on humus and waiting for hasty gardeners to plant their young seedlings
  • everything you kill would have been someone/something else's lunch
Ain't I pretty ?

I have always preferred snails to slugs. And I still find it that the damage that they do cannot compare to the slugzillas. Or maybe, with all the slugs in the 'hood, they never got the chance to show all their skills. After all, they carry their entire household on their back. Extra points for eempressive! Anyhow, I always leave them be.

The bottom line, I don't moan at slugs (not really, it's just that I collected 53 off a single head of lettuce), as much as I moan about the weather. The continual damage that Homo sapiens has unleashed upon this planet is finally blown into our faces. The Mediterranean climate, or any other, is hardly what it was before, we can have disastrously dry and barren years, and then again we can live on the verge of floods for ages and have waterlogged gardens. As far as the slimy buggers are concerned, I know I haven't done and am constantly NOT doing all I can to prevent the wreak havoc in the veg garden as well as my flower beds, a few beer traps here and there will not save the day, and I'm way too dispirited to start a brewery of me own. My dad is away on a business trip so no grilling or stabbing either, I'd definitely say the guys are having a feast of their lives. And as for hedgehogs, they must have realized by now that there's just too many slimy buggers out there and they just cannot keep up with their amoeba-like reproductive capabilities. I know we all have different climates, different gardening conditions, different slug populations, but I also know for those of us who love 'grooming' perennials in moist conditions, they are enemy number one.

Plant of the day: Hosta 'perforata'

11 komentari:

zvrk said...

Dobar ti je ovaj Plant of the day 'Perforata' ,hehe.
Ovako nekako izgleda i moja hosta nakon napada!
I ja se nekada latim skara.
Ove godine ih ima jako puno, nije ni cudno,imali smo stvarno puno kise.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Oh Violet .. no wonder you are beside yourself with too much rain. I can't imagine finding so much damage and so many "slugzillas" .. I love that word ! can I keep it too ? LOL
So far I have been lucky .. but I'm afraid now .. VERY afraid to really start looking for these horrible beasties .. that mental picture of your sweet little old lady neighbor cutting up slugs .. eeuuwwww ! LOL .. I understand your dad's aversion to wasting beer on them .. but I like your ending of their lives .. drunk and happy ? .. we should be so lucky ? LOL

Katarina i Kullavik said...

The dry weather we're experiencing here in Sweden, made me think that maybe the slugs had dried out. But I was so wrong...

I've been digging a hole to create a small pond. When I turned some stones - tiny slug babies were soundly asleep underneath the stones, waiting for some rain.
-What did i do? I killed them! And will continue tomorrow... Good luck with yours!

Niels Plougmann said...

That particular slug has become a huge problem for gardeners many places in Europe. I call them crawling dogshits... Dodpoo is actually one of their favorite foods. When we cut one in half then the dead slugs attract even more slugs, eating them! Cannibals too.
It has been very dry and sunny here for the last 6 weeks, and I have seen none of them in my beertraps (Yet). But when the rain comes ...
The nematodes will get some but have not been proven to be able to keep their numbers down. Creating barriers with electric slug fences and electric traps powered by 9 V batteries and specially designed slugfences (Take a look at those at the bottom of this page in this link:

Fences are the first line of defense in keeping the slugs out of the garden. But those already in the garden can be eliminated by picking, beertraps and Ferramol, A non-toxic wheat flour based slug bait, that is eaten by the slugs and gives them and overdose of IronIII-phosfate. (IronIII is the same Iron given to treat anaemia and in chelated Iron in most fertilizers. The small blue pellets must be spread often when it is rainy, and it works! It also kills the snails though ...
There seems to be no sideeffects of this product and it should be non-toxic for mammals and birds.
See this link!

Your hostas and other ornamental plant will look good again, and your veggies behind the fences will actually not have slugholes in them! Try it for yourself. It is approved for organic gardeners and organic farmers. It even gives better more dark green plants, same as if I had added chelated Iron, which I don´t have to use now, since the ferramol pellets does the same.
Another barrier method worth mentioning is using the spring clipping from lavender bushes. Chop these up and spread them under hedges. They do not like lavender. So lavender hedges as barriers keep most slugs out. there is also a number of plants they do not like to eat that are slug safe - hardy geraniums seems to be one of them. We are probably not going to get rid of this pest from Spain, that has spread all over Europe. But we can keep their numbers down and the slugs out of our gardens. And kill the ones who dare enter ... I really hate these slugs.

Viooltje said...

@ Zvrk: prije par tjedana zemlja se raspukla od suše, a sad mi već treba kanu. I pužolovka ;-)

@ Joy: Well, I can't say I really go looking for them, they always find me first. LOL. Same goes for horror theme I find alongside my perennial bed and veg garden. And as the beer traps go, euuuwwwww... that smell! If I don't clean them regularly, I just leave them be, 'cos the stench is beyond disgusting. And then often get comments like : 'Geez did something die here?' LOL

@ Katarina:
LoL, way to go! Hopefully you will eliminate them on time, before the next rain.

@ Niels:
Well even if I looked for better help concerning slugs, I wouldn't have expected such an outstanding, helpful visit. Thanks so much for stopping by. You have definitely got me intrigued with Ferramol, I'll try and get it a.s.a.p and will definitely get more lavender for my hedges. I love lavender and have noticed that all of my seedlings nearby have safely survived the slugzillas attacks. Thanks again for your expert help. Cheers!

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

Your creepy crawlies are much more attractive than the ones in my garden! I always forget I set beer traps and then it is soooo disgusting to remove and clean them. Spreading used coffee grounds around my hostas seems to help. And I've started putting cut rosemary branches between the rows of lettuce and chard--not sure if the strong aroma or the rough texture deters them but it seems to be working.

garden girl said...

EEEEOOOWWWW! Maybe they are good for something, but I hate those slimy slugs. Awful creatures!

Brenda Kula said...

I really laughed at this one, Violet. You are always amusing in your writing, your way with words, but this one was particularly funny. I know just what you mean. They have virtually destroyed my hostas. But I can't bring myself even to salt them down! Your dad and neighbor, they are so creative with their vengeance! I think I like them though!

Rose said...

Great photos of the slugs--I'm glad you got them before your dad shish kebabed them! I haven't had any problems with slugs yet, but with all the rain we've had they may soon appear.
Like you, we have had way too much rain with a lot of flooding, but thankfully, no tornadoes in my area. Tornadoes truly are scary and devastating experiences.
I haven't been here for awhile because I lost my connection to you; glad to have found you again. Wishing you some sunny skies!

patientgardener said...

Oh no - I hate slugs. Here in the UK we havent had any rain for over a week so not much sign of the slugs. No doubt that will change soon

VP said...

Great pictures - even though they're of a gardeners' pet hate! I put all those empty snail shells to ggod use by using them as pot mulch and cane toppers :)

Thanks for the lovely comment over at my place. Guess what? We're singing Plovi Barko again - eventually in London as part of a 1000 voice choir in September!

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