Longtime readers know that it’s a minor miracle I’ve been able to keep my children alive, over the years. I’ve killed house plants, I’ve neglected my lawn, I had a series of ill-fated betta fish; my POINT is that I’m not so much with the nurturing life force, it turns out.
The children are a happy exception to this rule, perhaps because—unlike the things I’ve managed to kill by accident—they can open the fridge and get their own cheese. Why, even as I write this, they are fixing their own breakfasts of bagels and cream cheese, which means that later when I go into the kitchen and see the trail of carnage (crumbs, cream cheese smears, toaster oven askew, knives on the counter) I will WANT to kill them, but then I’ll remember that I mostly like them and let it go, because that’s called Being Healthy. Hooray!
Anyway, where was I? Oh! Right! Me and things that are living, and the wonder that is my current container garden. (Hint: Not dead yet!)
So, yes, I know my tendency has been to go ON AND ON about the stuff I’m growing out on my deck. And you’re probably all “Yes, we GET it, you grew some strawberries and stuff. CONGRATULATIONS. Perhaps we could move on to more interesting topics, like some paint you watched dry?” But the thing is, I AM AMAZED BY IT. I mean it is a constant source of wonderment to me that I am GROWING FOOD out there. And it’s EDIBLE!
It’s like I’ve morphed into some sort of magical being. A magical being who is really jonesing to make a batch of homemade pesto.
So. I have been babying my plants. I don’t actually talk to them, because that would be weird, and also I am far too busy trying to coax Bob the
Gecko Anole into my herb box. “Hey Bob! I hear there are some VERY DELICIOUS BUGS over this way! Wouldn’t you like to come hang out over here and EAT THEM ALL? Yes you would! Ooooh, look at your beautiful big neck fan, you manly lizard, you!” Because THAT’s not weird. But I’ve watered and checked for aphids and read up on their care and pinched where they require pinching and all of that.
And SOMETHING has been eating my banana peppers.
Now, when I brought them home from the plant sale, they had a couple of woolly aphids on them. The lady who sold them to me told me that I could probably blast them off with the hose, but if that didn’t work, I should just pick them off by hand. Okay. I picked a few aphids off the first week or so, and then there were no more aphids, but the plants were being DEVOURED. They’re little more than sad stalks of green tatters, now. I kept waiting for them to just give up and DIE, but they haven’t. They’re alive. Just PITIFUL.
Every morning I would scour them for bugs. I could find nothing. I was completely MYSTIFIED.
A couple of nights ago, Otto and I were sitting on the couch, watching something on television, I think, when I had a sudden flash of memory: Many many years ago, my then-husband took me home to visit his parents in the summertime. As we walked up the pathway to the side door, I noticed there was a line of half-grapefruits adorning the side garden. “What’s with the grapefruits in the flowerbed?” I’d asked.
“Those are to catch the slugs,” his mom told me.
Now, I hadn’t seen any slugs, so I was skeptical. And my amusement runneth (ranneth?) over when she further elaborated that every evening they FILLED THE GRAPEFRUIT SKINS WITH BEER to catch said slugs. For some reason—perhaps because my mother-in-law didn’t drink—this struck me as positively hilarious.
It stopped being hilarious one night when my sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to go out actually SEE the slugs. It was maybe 9:30 or 10:00, and keep in mind that I had NEVER seen a slug in the garden during the day. (I suspect my mother-in-law cleaned out the traps early every morning.) We went out there with flashlights AND THEN I DIED.
It was a freaking slug frat party out there. The bed was FULL OF THEM. They oozed their way up the grapefruits and flopped into the beer and wallowed around in it until they drowned. For every drowning slug there were another SIX trying to decide “Dude, do I eat this leaf or go swim in the beer? I HAVE A TINY BRAIN, I CAN’T DECIDE!” And the worst part is that they were GIGANTIC. Like, the size of my thumb or larger. My sister-in-law and I stood on the porch with our flashlights and SCREAMED. Because we’re mature like that.
All of this came rushing back to me the other night.
“Oh NO,” I moaned.
“What?” said Otto, all concern.
“Slugs!” I said. “Slugs are eating the banana peppers! We have to go out and look!”
We grabbed a flashlight and went out on the deck. “I don’t see anything!” I stage-whispered to Otto—I’m not sure who I was worried about hearing me—and I was both relieved and perplexed not to see a gang of giant slugs in my container, but then—
“There,” said Otto. I looked where he was pointing, and sure enough—a tiny little slug had lifted his (her?) feelers up towards the flashlight, while OOZING ALL OVER MY PLANT.
Well, I was right. Slugs were eating the banana pepper plants.
We went back inside to strategize. We had beer, but no grapefruit. No matter! I would make some shallow plastic dishes by cutting out the bottoms of some plastic cups! Sadly, I had to sacrifice a Corona Light because that’s all we had. But I needed those slugs dead, even at huge personal sacrifice. (In case you’re wondering, no, I did not give them a lime wedge. I HAVE TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE.)
I set out the traps and went to bed relieved.
In the morning, I had caught… two Corona-loving moths.
The second-guessing began. Were the cups still too tall? Can they not scale plastic? Do you need the aroma of the citrus to draw them in? DO THEY NOT LIKE CORONA? (I did some research and it turns out that actually, they prefer cheap beer. DAMN SLUGS. Just like college boys.)
So last night, I did the only thing I could think of. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all of that, you know. I waited until a couple of hours after dusk (as my research told me I should do), and then I went out there with a flashlight.
And some chopsticks.
And I plucked those fuckers off my plants and drowned them in the beer myself.
Then I came inside and had a CONNIPTION OF ICK which is the natural result of having had slugs clutched in chopsticks in my hand. Otto may have asked what I was doing as I convulsed with disgust and I may have said SAVING MY GODDAMN PLANTS.
And the BEST PART is that I get to do it again tonight. And the next night. And however long it takes to get all of the slugs out of my containers.
(Now would be an excellent time for you to ASSURE me that the slugs I killed last night are the ONLY ONES and I will never see another.)