Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Hate Slugs

Got a slug problem? Haven't we all. Hostas, Geums, Oriental Poppies, Lupins, Nasturtiums, you name it, they eat it. Big black ones, little grey ones, they do the same damage, nibble, nibble, nibble, and the plant is destroyed.

Better run down to the garden center to buy a chemical to kill them with; slug pellets, something like that, to further enrich the chemical arsenal that's already stashed in the garden shed. Right?

Of course I never use chemicals myself. (yeah,right) Far too expensive. And do they always work?

If you have a slug problem, my advice to you is, get a hedgehog. That's the answer. Hedgehogs eat slugs - the slugs that would otherwise eat your plants. Problem solved. But where do you get hold of a hedgehog? Not from the garden Center, that's for sure. "I want a hedgehog, please," you say, "a slug-eating hedgehog." "We don't do slug-eating hedgehogs, just slug pellets." "Oh," I say, "and what happens if a passing hedgehog eats the slug pellets?" "It dies of course."

And there lies the problem. Catch 22. Use slug pellets and you have to keep using them. And a very costly business it is too, for you simply kill off the natural predators that would otherwise keep the slug population down to an acceptable level. Dead hedgehogs in the garden are useless, whereas live ones are like gold dust.

Now you can't buy hedgehogs in the garden center of course, but what you can buy is hedging plants - hedging plants that will grow into fine hedges and provide just the right sort of environment for passing hedgehogs.

And if all this sounds too complicated, too time consuming, then a patch of scrub land in the garden, a small over-grown area with weeds and a bit of long grass (a miniature 'wildlife' garden really) will attract them as well. For some, they might already have the perfect area. I probably have several.

While you're waiting for passing hedgehogs to turn up and populate your garden, of course, you'll have to tolerate a bit of slug damage now and again, that's inevitable. But if you have a particular plant in the garden that's a cherished one, then sprinkle a handful of salt or some grit around it as a slug barrier. Slugs don't like this. Slugs like to glide over smooth surfaces, not sharp or salty ones.

But the best method of all, the guaranteed 100 % method of eradicating slugs, is to buy a flashlight, go slug hunting at night and then pick them off by hand. Simple as that. A fun activity, and an activity that will surely enrich your personal life.

What is it tonight, then? The bar, the movies, early to bed for a bit of 'this and that', or a bit of slug hunting by flashlight? It's got to be slug hunting, hasn't it? Slug hunting by flashlight. Great fun. Whoo-hoo!

Now if all this sounds too complicated, too wishy-washy, a load of horticultural mumbo-jumbo - pure hogwash - then there's nothing to prevent you from buying an assortment of chemical applications from the garden center to kill them with. But be careful, because one man's chemical solution to the problem is another man's time bomb.


  1. I think we should change our towns name to SlugCity. Early in the morning after a spring shower and you will find tons of these critters on the Hosta's, DayLilys etc. Nasty snails! "Slugs with houses" What do you do with a bushel of them? Could eat them, "NOT". I can't kill them, so it's out to the field beyond the creek to dump them. Hopefully they will not return. :)

  2. If you put a little fine sand or salt (or a sand/salt mixture)around the edges of your garden it might help to cut down on your slug problem. A couple years ago we had a horrible problem with sluggs so we bought a couple pounds of salt and a bag of sand, put it around the garden and the slugs disappeared.

    Good Luck!

    Now if I could just figure out how to keep the daffodiles that apparently think that spring is here from growing...I would be happy. I mean it is only January! but you cant tell by the weather here