Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Farmgirl vs. The Slugs

In the life of a real farmgirl, nothing goes according to plan. Regardless of the amount of time spent building a fence, there's always that one animal that will tear through it in a matter of seconds. There will always be an unexpected trip to the feed store, and the garden that looked so nice the night before, can become a distant memory before dawn.

But, these are the challenges that make me want to keep striving toward the goal. The goal of self-sufficiency, the dream of less trips to town, and the hope that one day I'll get it right.

Because we live in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of rain. And by a lot, I mean we usually beat our previous year's record rainfall. Every month. Most of us have webbed feet, and wonder if our efforts would be better served building an ark rather than tackle another wet and unproductive gardening year. When the sun does eventually come out, our growing season is considerably shorter than the rest of the country, and not without it's own set of challenges.

I'm talking about slugs. Slimy creatures whose entire life's purpose is to challenge gardeners. I'm already working on a set of questions for God when I enter those pearly gates. First and foremost, (well, after I'm done answering questions anyway) we're going to talk about slugs. And flies. And mosquitoes. (I'm sure He has a purpose for them, I would just like to know what that purpose is.)  

There was a time when my aversion to slugs was non-existent. In fact, there was a time when I thought slugs appeared to be quite tasty. At the ripe old age of 2, I decided to test that theory. I don't recall being rushed to the hospital by my frantic young mother, but I do know that these days, whenever I see a slug, or even the slime of the slug trail, my gag reflex goes into overdrive. To say that I hate the slimy little creatures would be a gross understatement to how I really feel.

And they know it.

The "remains" of a jalapeno plant.

Maybe it's retribution for what they feel I did to their ancestors. Maybe they hold me personally responsible for all of the Morton's salt that has been spilled. Or maybe the scream heard 'round the world, caused their fight or flight mode to kick into overdrive. 

They should've run when they had the chance.

The pepper cemetery

See, slugs don't know everything. Sure, they know how to sneak out under the cover of darkness, and annihilate my plants. But they don't know about Google or Facebook. After posing the question of what natural slug deterrents other people use, I was gifted with many options. Some of which were; sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the plants, providing beer for the slugs drinking pleasure, the old salt trick, spreading fine hemlock bark dust in the beds, adding crushed egg shells in order to cut the underside of the slugs, and copper, because slugs don't appreciate it as much as gourmet chefs do. My original weapon of choice was beer. But then the dogs found it. I do not want to live with the guilt of turning my dogs into lushes. So I turned to choice number 2; copper.

Don't use wire cutters~tin snips are the only way to go!

Copper tape, to be exact. It is found in the pipe section of home improvement stores. (Back of the store, on the right~Thank you Kim!)

For around $2.50/10 ft. roll, I was able to wrap copper tape around all 10 of my pepper plants, and the remaining cucumber and zucchini plants. A second roll will be enough to tape off the entire lettuce bed.

Which is where the slugs moved after The Great Pepper Party of 2012.

I only have 2 words now.

Game. On.

This post is linked to The Morristribe's Homesteader Carnival 
The Homestead Barn Hop.


tami said...

I'll be SO interested to see how this works for you. I've heard about copper but didn't know about the tape.

I use DE when the plants are young and just "deal" with the slugs after the plant is producing. If this works, I'll definately try this next year.

Is there any part of the country that doesn't have to deal with slugs?

momma-lana said...

I have to admit to giving a beer to a friends basset hound when we were in highschool and then we took that weaving drunk dog to a football game. We were so fortunate that said dog did not barf on us in the car on the way!

Mountain Home Quilts said...

Since our garden is fenced, I use beer. This sounds morbid but I love going out in the morning and seeing all the slugs that have drowned in the beer trap. That's what they get for eating up all of my pole bean seedlings!!!

Candy C. said...

Tell tami that we don't have slugs here in the high desert of AZ! LOL!!
Your picture of the slug gave me the heebie-jeebies!

Kim said...

Gives me the heebie-jeebies too!

I knew there just HAD to be a special slugs-are-never-gonna-happen-land...just didn't realize it was in Arizona! :)

Annnightflyer said...

Yep I'd like to know also what the use love bugs are for? Mosquitoes are nasty little critters that have no compassion for the human race!