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Slugs (and death by beer)


A slug eating what was once a happy, young bean plant.

We’re having slug issues. Major ones.

Some background information and me whining for a minute: I’m learning to adjust my expectations right now… A few months ago, I envisioned June as a month where we’d be harvesting a lot of spring plants and having fun selling them at the local farmers market. Unfortunately, things haven’t really worked out that way. My partner Chris had to make an unexpected, month-long trip to Ontario, the sunshine of early May got washed away in what now feels like weeks of rain, and the slugs have been relentless. *sigh* Not quite what I envisioned. A lot of our plants have become stunted with the lack of sun, water-logged, and eaten. Our little greenhouse is full of seedlings that need to be transplanted, but I’m scared to put them in the beds in case the slugs get them. So, no farmers market yet and like I said, I’m learning to adjust my expectations and recognize that this will probably be more of a learning year than a money-making success of a year. It’s okay. Learning years are important. Every time I feel defeated or depressed, I remind myself of that and I feel better.

Back to the slugs though… They’ve been TERRIBLE. Seriously. We are doing everything chemical-free here on the farm so using slug poison wasn’t an option. Instead I’ve been hand-picking them out of the beds when I see them and tossing them into the grass at the other end of the property. That, however, has recently evolved into more drastic, less humane measures…

I hesitate writing this because it is contrary to my recently adopted vegan lifestyle (and I apologize to anyone I might offend by this), but I’m now killing the slimy bastards. They’ve totally brought out my sinister side. Not completely sinister because I do feel bad while I’m doing it (and I continue to feel bad afterwards), but I obviously don’t feel so bad that I won’t do it. Those suckers are just driving me crazy. They’re eating away hours of my work and what is supposed to be our future food and income. My sense of slug mercy went out the window a few dozen lost kohlrabi seedlings ago.


So long Kolhrabi.

I posted my slug woes on facebook and got some helpful suggestions. I’d heard of the egg shells and copper tips before but we just have too much space (and too few of us are egg eaters) to make that happen quickly enough. What was new to me, and what I have tried this week, are these two (pretty cruel, but effective) tips:

1. Scissors – designate a pair of scissors your ‘slug scissors’ and snip the suckers in half. Their friends come sliding over to feast on the remains and then you snip them too… I’ve got to say, this is not a pleasant thing to do. I won’t go into details, but it’s just not. It is, however, effective. And free.

2. Beer bait – buy the cheapest beer you can find, pour it into some bowls/ old yogurt containers/ cans, etc and put them in the garden. The slugs bust a move to get to the beer and then drown in it. Less messy and disturbing than the scissor tip, but not free. I’m actually amazed at how well this has worked for me over the past few days. I bought the largest, cheapest can of beer I could find and filled 4 aluminum cans from the recycling box with it. They each attracted a few slugs on day one. It started raining after that, but since they weren’t overflowing, I decided (more out of laziness than strategy) to leave them in the garden. Checked them today (3 days later) and they’re totally full of slugs – with more still coming! I’ve even got a (yucky) photo below to prove it. Time to buy more beer.


Anyone else have some helpful, natural, effective and preferably humane slug-disappearing-act suggestions? If I could find an effective way of managing them without killing them, that would be my preference.

And on a more positive note, not ALL our veggies are getting slug-slimed. Photos of our happy plants coming in the next blog post.