Seeking to Live in Harmony with Slugs

I have been reading a book by an urban farmer that I have been thoroughly enjoying, until last night. Just before I went to bed I read how she killed slugs in the most horrific way I can imagine. This morning I decided to re-read a post I wrote last year… and share it with you. (Be sure to also read the 2016 addendum.)

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2015 post

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I imagine slugs are a problem for most gardeners, they sure have been for me. It is so discouraging to go to the garden in the morning and see only the stalks left on bean plants and other vegetable seedlings. In the “old” days I used to use powdered slug bait to get rid of them. Later on, I used beer to bait them.

I have become increasingly uncomfortable with killing the slugs. Early this year it seemed I had more than ever; especially in my two worm bins. Believe me, good compost and free food can raise some BIG slugs. During the early part of the summer, I relocated them to other parts of the yard and hoped they didn’t make their way back to my garden. Occasionally, when I found them in the worm bins, I just left them there.

Then one day I decided to see if there was any information on the internet about the relationship between worms and slugs. I was very dismayed to discover that slugs EAT worms! I even found videos that showed that happening.

Eating my vegetable starts was one thing, but getting plump from eating my worms was completely unacceptable. From then on I took the slugs to the bottom of the empty lot behind my house, about 250 feet away from my garden and my worm bins. That area is full of blackberries vines but I pulled up a lot of morning glory plants and made the slugs a soft bed of edibles.

Next year I will make a home for them that is more hospitable, but still far away from things I hold dear.

I will also experiment with other ways to protect my seedlings. For example, I like the gutter planters that my friend Saroja created this year. She didn’t put her seedlings into the garden until the plants were big enough to be of no interest to the slugs.

saroja

I am happy that I have found ways to protect my garden and worm bins without killing the slugs. I hope to be even more successful in that venture next year.  If you have found peaceful ways to deal with the slugs in your garden, I would love to hear about them!

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I found the information in the following articles very interesting:
Fascinating Slug Facts
Slimy Summer Invasion
Earthworms protect against slugs

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2016 Addendum: What I have found interesting this is year is that I have not needed to follow through on my 2015 plan. Other than losing two green bean seedlings at the beginning of the season, I have had NO problem with slugs in my garden or yard this year. There have been a few in my worm bins, and they were big and fat before they came into view, but I have just set them free outside of the worm bins. I don’t know where they go but I do know that all of the plants in my yard have been spared!

Just before hitting publish on this current post, I decided to read the article I mentioned above “Earthworms protect against slugs.” It reported about a study that showed that slugs damage 60% less leaves if earthworms are present. I know my yard has more earthworms than ever before so maybe that is the reason I’ve had no problem this year. I don’t know the “why”, but I definitely appreciate the reprieve and hope it continues.

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9 thoughts on “Seeking to Live in Harmony with Slugs

  1. I rehomed about 500 snails ( I have less slugs)last year to various comfy apartments about 2 miles away! I still have a fair number this year but I have decided to leave them as they will be food for the birds. Like you I can no longer kill…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve had several snails this year but haven’t noticed any problem with them. It is interesting that your numbers have decreased this year after removing 500 of them last year. I wonder what will happen next year for both of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Man, this is a familiar dilemma that I’ve been dealing with for ages, and I got through cycles of what I’m willing to do, or not do. Each person has to figure it out for herself/himself. Interesting to see that plant diversity and earthworms are a kind of deterrent. Good luck with this!

    Liked by 1 person

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