Hello fellow readers, The rainy, humid summer has set us up for a perfect storm for slugs, always a top nuisance garden dilemma, which brings back one of my first column topics about slug remedies.
“What are the holes all over my hosta?” asked Dave from Hardwick, NJ.
“Holy moly Dave,” I wrote back, “I’m impressed you’ve been able to keep deer away from your hosta.” Deer candy, I call it and slug candy as it turns out. Even the name slug sounds nasty. This year the slithery suckers have even made their way inside camping onto Ellie’s paws and my garden shoes. Ick! While the horse is out of the barn as my dear Mom would say, it’s not too late to intervene.
The ugly slug serves an essential role.
The ugly slug indeed serves an essential role in clearing dead and decaying material–And provides food for our friendly toads, garden snakes, and birds; even fox. Still, I advocate non-toxic ways of good riddance.
You likely know about the dish of beer trick. Leave a bowl of beer, and you’ll have a plethora of the drunken suckers come morning. (Sounds like a few lounge lizards I once knew.)
Other slug attractions are planks of old wood between your plants and citrus rinds and human hair, which they get all gnarled up in. I’m not sure about the strength of your stomach, but waking up to dozens of slimy slugs to toss (toss where?) is nauseating right up there with slug collecting after dark. I’ll pass.
Call me squeamish…
Call me squeamish, but my preferred remedy is products with iron phosphate, which is deadly for a slug’s digestion and good for your soil. Brand names like Escar-Go and Slug Magic wrap iron in slug-attracting bait. Scatter the pellets around your plants every two weeks, and you’ll have significant results without tossing bodies. Much better.
I’ve learned a 50/50 white vinegar to water solution sprayed on the overnight guests after they culminate on a half a grapefruit works. Then there’s sprinkling diatomaceous earth which “consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae,” writes Wikipedia who goes on to say: “It’s used as a filtration aid, abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, absorbent for liquids, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, cat litter, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.” It also can dehydrate slugs and insects, including fleas. What a multi-tasker! Right up there with duct tape.
I’ve heard planting mint, sage, lavender, hydrangea, creeping thyme, and rosemary helps deter slugs. Yucca, too– Perfect! Yucky slugs prevented by yucky yucca. I feel another column coming on!
Would you believe there’s a slug resistant plant list? Ironically it mirrors many plants on deer-resistant lists. So, could one say there is a correlation between deer and slugs? You betcha! They both chomp the heck out of our gardens. But a baby slug (and a slug can lay 20 to 100 eggs several times a year) isn’t nearly as cute as a fawn. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com
This story is featured in Episode 19 of the Garden Dilemmas Podcast: Turtle Island/Ugly Slug Remedies