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.)
I’m totally stealing “CONNIPTION OF ICK”! You must really love those banana peppers. I, however, love no plant enough to pick ANY kind of bug off it. Sending bug-free vibes to you with the hope that those were the only slugs. Good luck with that.
You have a long summer ahead of you.
We used to have slugs really bad at our old house. We had one so big that we called it Slugzilla and then there were lots of tiny little sluglets.
Oh, and just be glad you didn’t step on one barefooted. That adds some new moves to the ick dance.
Actually, I am quite concerned to read about the cavalier attitude you have towards the destruction of these magnificent beasts…
KIDDING! You show those mo-fo’s who’s the boss! But definitely stop and pick up some bud light somewhere, because it just makes me sad to think of doing anything with a Corona light other than drinking it by the pool. :)
I’m all for organic and being nice to the environment, but when it comes to slimy worms with faces, I go all chemical on their asses and use that goop you use to outline whatever it is that they are getting into. I find great pleasure in staying up until the wee hours of the morning just to see them slither their nasty selves across the line then prompty die. I HATE SLUGS.
Oh, the thought of those slugs in the beer-filled grapefruits just makes me not ever want to eat again. On the bright side, I’m sure you have no slugs whatsoever.
I am with you on the Ick. Once you get the slugs off the plant here are a couple of ways to maybe keep them off. Breakup eggshells and put them on the soil around the base of the plant. Or put copper around base of plant but cutting up pieces of copper foil or pulling apart copper scrub pads. To slugs the eggshell are suppose to feel like razor blades and the copper shocks them.
That’s how I felt when I started making bread. LIke, Wow, I just threw together flour, yeast, salt and water and look how it rises! I’m a miracle worker!
Okay, so the slugs they are disgusting, and never, ever go barefoot in the garden…
We have found toads to be helpful. They don’t completely get rid of the slugs, but they do eat them and I haven’t actually had to pick any slugs off of anything recently. Maybe your kids would enjoy catching you some toads at the pond?
“And I plucked those fuckers off my plants and drowned them in the beer myself.” Having seen you on television and read you for eons now, I’m having a difficult reconciling this. Hilarious? Yes. But a little like a delicate flower hiking her leg to let one rip.
Don’t slugs hate salt too?
Of course the plants might not be too fond of it either…
Salt will kill slugs actually. :D
Eeeewwwww! I might stop by the store today and get some grapefruits… I’ve got ants in my garden – need to look up an organic way to get rid of them.
Hilarious! Slugs are like college boys, I never knew!
Pie plates filled with beer will work just fine. That’s a great redneck look-especially in Georgia. Are these containers on the front or back porch?
Punk band name alert!! Conniption of Ick
I hate slugs. They go after the ONE pot of red pepper I have planted. Much like you, I felt all Little House on the Prairie about it. Yes, I can grow a human in my womb, and it’s great. But a plant! WITH FOOD ON IT!! I am a total miracle.
Every once in a while one of the little slimeballs manages to make its way under our back door. And almost every time it’s presence is discovered by an uncovered foot. gag. Then it’s out the door and a date with the salt-shaker with it. BLECCHH!
Ick! Those are the designated slug-picking chopsticks now, right?
RuthWells : Slugs
Mir : Palmetto Bugs
I grow lots of veg, and cannot deal with the slugs AT ALL. Not even with chopsticks. I grow enough that they can eat their share and there’s still enough for us humans.
You’re braver than me.
Salt and beer…hmmm… maybe you should make them a little glass of beer – margarita style.
Salt. Good old-fashioned salt. Dehydrates the little buggers and they die die die. (Who, me? A slug-salt party? Never heard of any such thing…)
Since they are climbing into the container, how about a line of salt all around the bottom of it? With a sprinkling inside it to get whatever little buggers are hiding in the dirt.
BETTER!!! Diotomeacious earth — (I’m totally spelling it wrong) it’s like the stuff you put in the pool filter – you put it around the base of the plants and as the suckers crawl over it – the DE cuts the crap out of thier hides and you have SLUG CARNAGE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_Earth
Don’t overuse it in garden beds on the ground – it will cut up your worms too – but planters – GO WILD!
The last ones? Free beer = tell your friends.
Dude? Seriously. Get thee to the store. Buy some disposable pie plates and Bud Light. Why are you putting yourself through this? I would gag until the end of time if I had to go slug-picking.
I’ve heard that if you smear Vaseline all around the rim of the container the slugs won’t cross the line – they don’t like the feel of creeping through the petrolium jelly. Hey, would you? Also, try submerging the cups so that just half a inch or so is above ground. They’ll then be able to crawl in and drown in the beer just fine. And that’s the extent of my assvice today because I am totally not green fingered.
Important Safety Tip:
Watch out for your garden hose. The slugs in my yard love to suck up to it (for the water, I think) and when I go for the hose, all unsuspecting-like, they slime me. Yu-uck.
wouldn’t it just be easier to buy a grapefruit and make your own beer laced one? i mean, i for one would not want to have to pluck slugs off of my plants each night before bed. i’m just sayin’.
ROFLMAO…Thanks. I needed that.
Ewww… slugs *shudder*
I read that broken eggshells or pieces glass (with sharp edges) spread around the perimeter of the garden will help. The edges are painful to their soft bodies and that may keep them out.
Strips of copper is supposed to be effective in getting rid of slugs, as slugs and snails do not like crossing this metal (I don’t know if there is any truth to this but it’s worth a try).
When you fill a container with beer (funny that it has to be cheap beer), set it into the ground so that the top is level with the ground. Makes it easier for the slugs to get to.
Good luck in getting rid of those icky creatures.
I know we use to fill disposable pie pans with beer to keep the slugs away, could you try that? I don’t touch slugs, even with chop sticks.
Why not just buy a grapfruit and a can of Coors?
Greetings from the Northwest, Slug capital of the world.
“GIGANTIC. Like, the size of my thumb or larger.” HA! you neophyte–we got slugs as long as my arm here! We got your banana slugs and your plain slugs and the little slug babies too! The babies cling to the cat’s belly fur and I find them later in the strangest places around the house…yes, on the inside of the house! Fuckers, indeed.
When I’m working in the garden, wearing my gloves, I just pick them up and fling them into the street. Otherwise, I use a product called Sluggo–copper sulfate pellets that are safe to use around kids and animals, but the slugs scarf ’em up and go off the the elephant graveyard to die. I don’t waste good beer on the slimers.
Less dangerous (to humans) than broken glass is diatomaceous earth (DE) commonly used in pool filters – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_Earth
you have to apply it regularly – doesn’t hurt to make a flat collar like a pie plate. Agreed that the beer traps are best set flush into the ground; I use plastic cups.
More gratifying is to give the slugs a home, like a plank of wood nearby – then flip it over and salt them before sundown.
… Or you could just go buy some grapefruits today and see if that worked. You know, if you don’t WANT to pick the slugs off the plants with chopsticks.
Um. Ewwww. Can you just go stock up on cheap beer and grapefruits? And good beer for you, for surviving the experience?
Ick, ick, ick! I had the same problem with my hosta plants. First I spent lots of money on some kind of slug bait. It worked great, but was expensive and I worried that the dog would think it was delicious, too. Anyway, I went down to my local nursery to donate a buttload of water irises that I had thinned out of my pond, and in their unending gratitude, they gave me two bags of “earth” that is meant to pot water plants. Well – I had no use for it. However, it was white gravel-like stuff, so I put a layer in the hosta bed and haven’t had a problem with the slimy suckers since. And
The Other Leanne beat me to it in chortling at slugs the size of your thumb. Look up Banana Slug and you will thank your lucky stars you’re just dealing with itty bitty ones.
I so know how you feel! I’m growing a bunch of stuff in our backyard too, and it’s the most fun I’ve had EVER. It is absolutely amazing to throw some seeds in some topsoil, water, and a few days later – a little shoot comes up and it will one day be GREEN BEANS! YAY!
Also, when you said “Desperate times call for desperate measures” I thought you were going to say you called up your ex-mother in law to ask her what was with the grapefruits. Thank gawd you resorted to the chopsticks!
Also, totally stealing Conniption of Ick. I had one of those this weekend when Husband killed a baby copperhead in the driveway.
When I was little and sick and mean, I used to kill slugs with salt. Ok, I’m still little, sick and mean and sometimes I get a perverse satisfaction from watching them shrivel up. There is probably a special level in hell for me where I get dehyrated from the outside in over and over. Something to think about.
How about a salt moat around your plants? Give THEM the choice. No guilty feelings if you should find them with their ooze on the outside. If it makes you feel better, make a little warning sign “Turn back now”.
Ahh, good times. Actually, you brought back memories of when my mom used to put out beer for the slugs in semi-submerged coffee cans, and it worked great (and hey, it’s not just for rednecks – we lived in a suburb of NYC at the time).
I actually feel very badly that none of us thought to mention the possibility of slugs to you, might have saved your peppers a few days of being munched on.
I’m with the recommendation to spread white stone (you know, the decorative stuff that is about the size of a cherry) on the dirt all around the plants to keep the slugs away. That way you don’t have to monitor the Beer Baths of Death. Plus, it will reduce the amount of watering you will need to do, as it will help keep the moisture in the soil. Just a nice even layer covering the dirt, it probably wouldn’t take more than one bag or so (or a couple shovel-fulls if you buy it loose). Salt also works, as does the beer usually. I wouldn’t spread salt on the dirt itself, as that will make it impossible for anything to grow in that dirt. Oh, and slugs also love tomatoes, so if you grown any, keep an eye out for them on your maters. The stone should get rid of them completely though, well before the maters ripen. Good luck!!
Oh man, I couldn’t finish reading this because I was really darn close to throwing up. Slimy beings gross me out. *shudder*
I used to know a poem/magic spell that was supposed to drive the slugs away. All I can remember now is the last couplet: “Slime-born and low, I bid you go.” But I’ve always loved the idea that every poem is actually a magic spell.
I am sooooooo happy to have this new tip for gardening. I don’t like anything slimy. But, seeing that I kill cactus & even my rock garden from the 4th grade. I can’t even get a slug or any other pest for that matter to even look towards my damn garden!
I too have used beer to kill those nasty slugs. But I often wonder if it actually draws more slugs. You know, ya’ll come to the beer-fest over here..`cause our containers were over flowing every day!
I’m curious to know (1)what research source yielded the fact that slugs like cheap beer and (2)where do slugs carry their money?
ps: Don’t let CPS catch you on your deck holding slugs in your chopsticks.
One morning when I went out to get the paper I stepped on a slug. Talk about your conniption of ick….
Salt. Plain and simple. Pour a nice line of salt around the container or plant ane watch the slugs shrivel after they cross it. Get yourself a 5 lb. box of kosher salt and have at it.
After stepping barefoot on a thumb-sized sucker a few years ago while checking my hostas for the mo fos, I went crazy on their ass (right after I hopped around shreiking). I might have even laughed an evil laugh while pouring the salt directly on one pour sucker in my path. Be ruthless…it can be fun.
Can you get some small, squatty (is too a word!) cups, embed them in the dirt, then pour cheap beer in those so the slugs don’t have to climb to get to the beer? I’m thinking like a plastic version of a dixie cup; not sure they exist… But this approach would save you from a) sacrificing a grapefruit, b) picking the nasty things off the plants, and c) … well, I can’t think of a c.
Ughhhh…gross. Totally yucky. I am an avid gardener and I deal with lots of gross things, but slugs make the bile rise in my throat. Yuck.
Half of a grapefruit skin put upside down on the dirt will do the same thing my neighbour tells me. She does does it and none of her plants get eaten. It doesn’t sound like it would work but she does it every year.
You could try burying the beer cup in the ground almost up to the top and they just sort of fall in and drown or put it in a plastic plate.
I have an idea. Save the beer and buy a Hedgehog. They eat slugs AND are pretty darn cute.
If you use the salt idea don’t overdo it because it can kill your plants. (If you already knew that, I’m not trying to be patronizing or anything, I just am not sure exactly how black your thumb is :P)
Oh wow… I mean. Um… ew. There are so many reasons why I am glad that I cannot grow things. Slugs are now the main reason. I tried to grow a plant once that I was told anyone could keep alive. It died, along with my pride and hopes for growing interesting plants and herbs. Ok, I never really hoped that. I just wanted a green thing that made the room look nice. So I bought killer throw pillows in a lovely shade of kelly green and everything was right with the world again.
I haven’t read all the comments, because I am lazy. So if this is a duplicate, never mind. Can’t you just surround the container with salt. I don’t know how they are getting to the plant, but I would figure they would have to cross somewhere. You will know your work is done when you hear the screaming.
And this seals the deal, no banana peppers plants for us. If there is one thing in this world, I can’t stand is slugs. Excuse me, now I must dip my entire body in salt.
Ewww. Ew ew ew ew ewwwwwww…
wow! People are passionately anti-slug! The beer thing worked pretty well for us, though I’d not heard of using grapefruit as the vehicle of doom. I just used somewhat shallow dishes (need to be deep enough to drown the slug but not so deep they can’t get in, I suppose.)The downside to that being that in the morning you have to face the unholy stew of slugs and beer.
I also had someone recommend that I buy a big bag of hazelnut shells (available in our garden store) and ‘mulch’ my garden with them. The slugs don’t like traveling over the sharp edges. The one problem with *that* is that while the slugs don’t like them, the squirrels sure as hell do. Seems there are almost always some nuts mixed in with the shells.
Our dog has a new trick where he brings slugs into the house on his long furry tail. And leaves them. On. My. Floor.
I am currently sitting in my oh so city high rise, deeply thankful that I don’t have to deal with slugs. I do however get “high rise spiders”. I’m told they blow in off the lake (balloons made out of web) and on the taller buildings they make their homes. And some how a few always manage to get inside. One would assume that if they’re getting in on the 21 floor that any opening would have to be small, right? Nope, somehow I get to deal with spiders that have bodies the size of nickles. And I will run away from the tiniest of spiders. I do not care for exoskeletons. Unless it is shrimp crab or lobster.
OMG. I was gagging before you even mentioned your Conniption of Ick. That who process is going to haunt me for days. I want my mommy.
I never knew I would learn something so useful as killing slugs with beer! Now if I could only remember I had something growing outside to keep alive, maybe I would have half a shot. (The poor herbs last year didn’t make it)
Thankfully the baby lives inside so her chances are higher.
Good job with protecting and growing your garden!
I almost peed my pants on this one.
Now that I have recovered, I think I need to try this beer thing. I’ve got slugs too. Though, I have no chop sticks.
Oh, Mir, how I love you! That post was Classic Mir, right there. I just can’t stop giggling, and I’m work, and it’s been One Of Those Weeks that I’m afraid everyone thinks I’ve gone ’round the bend.
Slugs hate coffee grounds! Put the grounds all around your plants and the slugs won’t cross over them. Something to do with the caffeine…good luck!
hahahaha aren’t you like the karate kid picking off slugs w chopsticks instead of catching flies? ahaha this was very funny but i have to agree you gotta defend your banana peppers!!!! glad you didn’t end up killing the plant. i tried to defend my rose bush from japanese beatles and almost killed the bush itself (sprayed the plant w vinegar). hurray for you!
The salt works – just make sure it has iodine in it. Sea salt doesn’t work. Boy were my kids disappointed when their slug victim didn’t up and die after cranking out a couple of tablespoons of my sea salt on them!
Before going out there every night, I’d give the grapefruit a try.
When we lived in CA, we had banana slugs – and just like the name, they looked like slimy bananas, trailing around the yard and up the house. It was disgusting. They were huge – 6-8 inches long – I kid you not. One day there was one on the doorknob and I was afraid to go into the house. Yuck.
Ewww, I can not deal with all this slug talk, I may have nightmares. I would just give up the Banana Peppers.
Ick, conniption of. I have a Slugzilla that lives in the retaining wall around my driveway. It likes to crawl halfway up the outside wall of the house and wave at me at night when I pull into the driveway.
I don’t mind the slugs as long as they stay outdoors. Which they do. But the black ants and me? We are totally at war.
I am absolutely mortified at the thought of slugs, so I would most likely hand over my banana peppers and say here, you can have them, no really, I’ve got my strawberries!
I am dead now. And therefore never moving to Georgia.
Mir, I really needed the laugh today. Thank you SO MUCH!!! Just buy some cheap beer already. :D
I’m with Burgh Baby get yourself some deadline, it works great. Then enjoy those peppers.
I hope they were disposable chopsticks.
I love Em suggestion. Put up the sign to warn them, it’s more humane. Hahahahahahaha!!!
If you do this, we totally want a pix!
I don’t know about slugs but I do know how to get rid of ants. You sprinkle corn meal around your house. They can’t digest it and die. They will also take it back to the colony and it will get rid of them.
I go all chemical and use the Deadline too, though I may try diatomaceous earth or somesuch (more “green”, ya know). I’ve tried the beer thing, but it was too high-maintenance for me, and too much of a waste of (even cheap) beer.
Now to REALLY ick everyone out: as a kid, I used to pick up slugs to make my fingers turn orange! Wheee!
I have seen the same trick done just with shallow metal containers.
Also, I salute you for picking them off yourself. I doubt I would have!
Send Otto out there with a propane torch. (You did recharge the fire extinguisher after the grill incident?)
Of course there might be adverse effects on the plants…
P.S. New babyhead to sniff coming 12/31 :D
Chemicals baby… chemicals! Save the beer for the party you have when you pick the banana peppers and roast them over the fire!
OMG! LOL I just found a MEGA slug in my courtyard. I didn’t even *think* about the fact I might want to KILL it. I was too amazed by it’s SIZE! The thing was at LEAST 4″ long and an inch or more wide!
Hope you got ’em all. :-)
The slugs you killed last night are the ONLY ONES and you will never see another.
Beer will work. Get some Bud and pour it in a bowl. We used to have them on our back deck (they loved the dog’s food). Salt kills them, but it gets messy and therefor involves clean-up. My mom-inlaw gave me a bag og Ortho Bug Geta Snail and Slug Killer to put around my hastas, but I haven’t seen any evidence of them yet so I haven’t put any out. She does have a yard that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens though, so it probably works.
Get some diatomaceous earth from the garden center and sprinkle it over the soil. It just feels like dirt to you, but to the underside of a slug it is like many shards of sharp glass and knives. It’s just crushed up tiny sea creatures, so it does no harm to your plant or anyone eating it. And keep it up with the beer.
Mir – you totally crack me up! I am a new reader, happened on you by chance. I am actually having the cave cricket issue in my house. I do not have a basement and live in Texas… I can’t figure out how they can possibly stand the heat. Anyhow, I read about your experience and that of your readers with the crickets and I am now hooked.
I do wish you well with the slugs!
Your new biggest fan,
My granny says add sugar to beer in a low saucer to attract all kinds of creepy crawlies. I haven’t tried it as I didn’t inherit the green thumb.
PS — No way, Jackie, I’m the biggest Mir-fan!