Attack Of The Killer Slugs!

Yesterday, as hubby and I were moving the yard of dirt I’d had delivered for the new section of garden, I noticed that my freshly topped pepper plants had holes all over the leaves. Great! I thought, Just what I need. As if I know anything about gardening other than plant, water, pick.  There are so many things that can go wrong with a garden, so much I don’t know, so many threats — and gardening season has barely begun.

In years past, had anything like this happened, I would have ignored it, leaving it to the will of the gardening gods. This year, however, I am determined. I am hell-bent on this garden surviving, flourishing, and eventually producing. For once in my lifetime I want to be able to say “I can garden!”

Walking back and forth, wheelbarrow-full and after wheelbarrow-full, I contemplated what to do.

  • I could go up to the gardening store and ask someone there, hoping that they hadn’t just been hired as a seasonal worker, trying to make extra money before heading back to school.
  • I could check with my neighbor whose garden has always been quite fertile and successful, although since I began planting and expanding, he has been a bit competitive with me. It’s almost as if he were taking it personally that I wanted to finally have as successful a garden as he.
  • I could wait and see if perhaps the leaves were eaten by some insect, but deciding that they were not what they really wanted, had moved on.

None of these solutions placated me. I wanted a solution that was somewhat dependable, could be found without leaving the house, was economical, and would solve the problem immediately. Now, is that too much to ask? I didn’t think so.

So, off to the Internet I went. Typing in: My pepper plants have holes in their leaves — I was met with page after page of promised solutions. The first one I went to told me the problem, or supposed problem. It told me that based on the fact that I keep mulch around the plants, the culprit was more than likely a slug. I suppose this is to be expected. For every one thing I do to try to minimize the amount of work I have in the garden, there will no doubt be a new problem to deal with. I put in the mulch to keep the weeds to a minimum, now I had slugs to contend with.

Reading on various other sites, the slug suggestion was confirmed again and again. Slugs it was. Now the problem was how to get rid of them, again I wanted something dependable, something I could find without leaving the house, was economical, and would solve the problem before my plants were eaten to mere sticks.

Typing in: How to get rid of slugs — brought up ads for slug traps I could buy but that was not what I wanted, remember: economical and immediate. Further down the page I found a link that took me to a You Tube video advertising a homemade slug trap that was sure to work. When I clicked on that, I found a whole page of videos with slug trap ideas. Thank God for the Internet!

I watched three or four videos and found that they were all pretty much the same. Research was over, it was time for action. I gathered the supplies I would need and got to work.

Supplies:

  • Small plastic pop or water bottle
  • Twist ties
  • Scissors
  • Beer (yep, beer!) and not for me, for the slugs!

First I cut the bottom 3 inches off the plastic bottle. Then I cut the top 2 inches off the top. Placing the top in the bottom upside down, I punched two holes in the sides, through both the top and bottom portions. Using the twist ties, I secured the top section to the bottom section.

I made three traps, although I have four pepper plants. I don’t have a lot of bottles at the moment so I figured if it didn’t work, I didn’t want to have to throw four bottles out. Anyway, one of the plants had only a couple of holes on the leaves, so I’d try to save the other three first.

With traps in hand, I took the can of beer hubby reluctantly sacrificed in the name of peppers, my gardening gloves, and a hand trowel to the side of the house where the pepper plants basked in the sun. Digging a small hole among the mulch, very close to the pepper plant stem, I buried the trap even with the mulch and then poured in enough beer to make a small pool in the bottom of the trap.

A close-up of the slug trap.

A close-up of the slug trap.

 

You can see where something has been eating my pepper leaves.

You can see where something has been eating my pepper leaves.

That’s it! It took all of 20 minutes to gather the supplies, make the traps, and set them. The hardest part was going to be waiting until morning to see if they worked. Apparently the slugs like it dark, so the chances of them coming out while the sun was blasting for a little beer were not high.

This morning, without waiting for my morning coffee to finish brewing, I slipped on some shoes, pulled a robe around my pajamas, and headed out to the side of the house. Starting at the closest plant, I looked in the trap. Yep, nothing — unless of course you want to count the dead ants floating in the beer. On to the next plant. This one was even less promising, it didn’t even have a dead ant in it. Okay, so I wasted 20 minutes and lost $0.30 on the deposits of the bottles I used, I could chalk this up to experience. Disheartened I moved on to the third plant. Removing the trap, I noticed something big sloshing in the beer. Peering through the top into the bottom, like looking through the eyepiece of a telescope, there floating in the beer was a big, fat slug!

See him floating down there.

See him floating down there.

You're not going to be bothering any more pepper plants you old slug!

You’re not going to be bothering any more pepper plants you old slug!

Success! The rush was unbelievable. I’d done it. Not without lots of guidance from the Internet, but I actually solved this problem without spending a lot of money, without leaving the house, and before my pepper plants were eaten away to nothing.

I have to admit I felt a little bad for the slug. When I thought about it more though I realized he had a good death, he died drunk and no doubt happy, and for this I am — Simply Grateful — okay, that just sounds wrong, but I am sure glad it worked! (I hope I don’t get letters from the Bug Rights Activists about this.)

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8 responses

  1. that’s awesome! you caught one! It worked!! I don’t have a slug problem in my garden, I’m guessing each region probably has it’s own problems. So far my garden isn’t flourishing though, I planted kind of late. It did the best when we did raised beds with added soil. Then we moved it to the ground and I think our soil is full of clay and maybe it will take years to make it all good. I have not added to it, I think I need to do that.

    • Our garden is raised somewhat. We put landscape timbers around it years ago and added about three inches of rich topsoil. After so many years the top soil has been turned into the ground several times, the ground being solid clay, to no avail. Now the ground is all clay. No matter how many times I add more top soil and mix it, within a few years it’s back to clay. It’s as if the earth is just eating the top soil and making it clay. I’ve even added a couple yards of sand — nothing. The garden does okay. We planted potatoes there the past three years and did fairly well. I am hoping for more though. I’ve mixed in lots of compost from the kitchen this year. Maybe coffee grounds, potato skins, and apple peel will be the ticket.

  2. Its always frustrating when something is nibbling on the plants, esp when you can’t see t! But yay! You’ve got them on the run! Its last call for the slugs in your yard! 😉

  3. If it’s any consolation, it looks like the damage is minimal and that you caught them early. 🙂 It looks like the rim of the bottles are above the mulch; I’d lower them a bit so it’s easier for them to get in the pool. 🙂 You can now say that your blog has a dead body on it!

    • Thank you, I will lower them a bit. I caught three more this morning – a baby one and two big ones. I changed the beer, not sure if they like it fresh or not, so tomorrow I’ll see what the body count is.

  4. Pingback: Garden Critters | Simply Grateful Housewife

  5. Pingback: Preparing For Battle – Slugs Beware! | Simply Grateful Housewife

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