Tag Archives: slugs

Slugs: Because You Know They’re Coming

mature slug

This week gardeners are complaining about too much rain; next week gardeners will be complaining about slugs. Slugs are related to shellfish and love moisture. They have been doing their happy dance since these rains have started.

Although I rarely see them because they are active at night, I know I have slugs in my Virginia garden. I see the chewed and tattered leaves and the glistening, slimy trails. Slugs particularly love the tender foliage on my transplants – the ones I patiently grow from seed under lights. To prevent them from destroying months of work, I quickly respond when I see any evidence of their existence.

If I see chewed leaves, I sprinkle the plants with Sluggo, a brand name for iron phosphate. This is not a plug for Sluggo, it is a plug for not messing around with homemade remedies – just get the iron phosphate. There are several products with iron phosphate, read the active ingredient on the label. I have found that Sluggo’s cylindrical container with the small holes for sprinkling to be very easy to use. Also, it is safe for dogs and cats, and there are a few stray cats in the area. If for some reason I have run out of Sluggo, I sprinkle crushed egg shells or coffee grounds and then run to the nursery.

I have tried the beer trick. Slugs are attracted to yeast so beer in a lid or saucer, sunken to the ground, is supposed to attract them. Once they fall in they get too tipsy to get out. I have never found them in my saucers and I was never able to reconcile the cost or waste of perfectly good beer on slugs.

Slugs also are attracted to citrus. I have not tried this before but some gardeners swear by putting grapefruit halves on the ground, cut side down, with a pebble on one side (so they can slime in). In the morning, they either lift the citrus and kill the slugs or throw the whole thing in a bag. Another method is to place a clay pot upside down with a pebble and turn the pot over in the morning to pick up the slugs and destroy them.

This is all well and good but when you are working mom, you would rather grab a canister of Sluggo and sprinkle before you run off to work.

slug damaged hollyhock transplant

Another deterrent is diatomaceous earth, it is just not as easy to find as Sluggo or easy to apply. It is a fine white powder with microscopic sharp edges that irritate if not outright slice the slugs. I am always afraid I will breathe in the talc like powder or spill it on my suit as I inspect the morning damage before I run off to work.

And then there is the copper barrier that would be effective if you just had one container or a raised bed. Apparently it causes a type of electric shock to slugs but is not harmful to humans or pets. The only downside is that it is impossible to surround all of your plants in your suburban yard – it is just not practical.

So go to the nursery now before slug season starts. Find a product with iron phosphate and find an easy, quick way to apply it. The easier it is for you the more likely you will be able to fight the slug invasion.


New Products Coming for Edible Gardens

Last week I wrote about the Independent Garden Center (IGC) show at the National Harbor, MD, and several new plant introductions. When I used to write about new plant introductions for Chesapeake Home magazine, I focused on what was truly new and different, not just the newest shade of red. Here are a few gardening products that would truly make a difference to a gardener. For more information and to see if the products are available at your local garden center, check the web site and Facebook page for the product.
Slug Gone is new to our country; it is British wool from sheep fleece that has been shaped into small, ¼ to ½ inch pellets, similar to rabbit food. Wool fibers have very fine scales with small barbs on the tip called cuticle cells. These enable the wool fibers to link together to form a mat. When wet, the pellets form a natural barrier to slugs both because the minute fibers irritate the slugs and the wet pellets spread to form a mat. This mat also becomes a barrier to weeds and helps retain moisture. What I like about Slug Gone is that it is a natural product, safe for children and pets. This product is distributed by Quince Creek in Pennsylvania which has a Facebook page called SlugGoneUSA. http://www.sluggoneusa.com or http://www.sluggone.com

Bag of Slug Gone with pellets in a plastic container

Bag of Slug Gone with pellets in a plastic container

Fabric aeration containers are not new, in fact, there are more brands and designs on the market now. Smart Pot is a well known brand that has been around for a number of years and is available in various sizes from 3 to 20 gallon, circular shapes. What you might not know is that Smart Pot has the Big Bag Bed, Wall Flowers, and Compost Sak. Big Bag Bed is a very large, circular fabric “raised bed” similar in size to the “kiddie pool” you would put in the backyard for toddlers. Its circular shape comes in three sizes: original, 50 inches x 12 inches; junior, 36 inches x 12 inches; and mini, 24 inches x 8 inches. These are intended to serve like raised beds and are designed so you can reach into the center from any point on the perimeter. Wall Flowers are 3 gallon bags that can be hung on a wall or hung over a rail, similar to a saddle bag. These are perfect for adding vertical color or even growing annuals and herbs on your deck. Compost Sak is 30 inches wide and 38 inches tall, with a 100 gallon capacity. You can throw in your refuse and let it decompose naturally. http://www.smartpots.com

Victory 8 Garden has taken fabric aeration containers in a different direction. Once filled with soil, their fabric containers become square-shaped, making them perfect for square foot gardening enthusiasts. The EZ-Gro Garden line of containers is designed to be “instant raised beds.” They come in several sizes: small, 2 feet x 2 feet; medium, 3 feet x 3 feet; and large, 4 feet x 4 feet, all almost a foot tall. They also have rectangles which look like two squares attached: small, 2 feet by 4 feet; medium, 3 feet by 6 feet; and large, 4 feet by 8 feet, all almost a foot tall. They have a line of just square containers called CuBe, which are 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot tall. You can either plant them singly or arrange the cubes in any arrangement: lines, squares, or rectangles. Using the square foot gardening concepts, Victory 8 Garden illustrates the number of plants that can be planted in one cube for most popular vegetables. Victory 8 Garden also sells DekProTek, which is a 1 foot by 1 foot wire mat, about an inch or two thick, that can be placed under the fabric container to allow air circulation and to protect the deck from too much moisture if the fabric containers are on a deck. http://www.victory8garden.com

DekProTek on left and a CuBe, folded with tag, on right

DekProTek on left and a CuBe, folded with tag, on right