Spring is here. The weather is warmer. Fresh plantings are purchased and now in your yard. The next day, you discover those beautiful new flowers and vegetables have been chewed down. What? No!
It is slug season. There are almost too many species of these pesty critters to count. Here is the link to identify the invaders: Slug ID Chart
They can do major damage to your plants in just one night. It happens to everyone. Beyond slug bait, garden authority Bob Vila offers the following suggestions.
One that jumped off the page to me was using beer. Pour some beer into a shallow (2 inches tall or less) lid, saucer, or other short container, and place it near your flowers or vegetables. You can also use margarine containers and bury them in various spots leaving the container lip about one inch above the ground. Slugs are attracted to the scent of yeast, which beer contains, and they crawl into the containers and drown. Seems gross, but so are slugs! This is a better option than purchased slug bait that can contain poison and chemicals that are not healthy for your pets.
Another suggestion is to use sharp or dry materials that easily irritate a slug’s soft body. Gravel, lava rock, and wood ashes are a few rough materials to place around selected plantings or the entire garden. The slugs do not like the rough road and will avoid crawling through these materials.
Another option is a citrus fruit trap that contains orange or grapefruit. Unpeel the rind carefully to retain a one-bowl shaped half and poke a hole large enough for a slug to slide through. Place them in your garden upside down like a dome and the sweet scent will lure them in, away from your plantings. The next morning, collect the fruit scraps and dump them into soapy water to finish off the entrapped slugs, then into your compost bin.
A more expensive solution is to use copper tape or 4- to 6-inch-wide copper flashing, wrapping it around your precious plantings. Slugs will stay away, and the copper can be reused for years to come. Just keep in mind copper only deters slugs.
Feeling vengeful? A nighttime venture into your garden with the kids armed with a saltshaker and a flashlight will offer a highly effective solution. Sprinkle just a little salt on every slug you see, and the salt will draw water out of its watery body, causing it to dry up. By the way, kids love this nighttime adventure, though not for the faint of heart.
Slugs are not the sole guilty party this year. Does it seem like there are more rabbits this year, it is in their nature to reproduce? Rabbits are another critter that enjoys your fresh smorgasbord of plantings especially carrot tops and lettuce. These wascally wabbits can wipe out nearly everything you offer in your garden. While eradicating slugs can be easy, dealing with sweet little bunnies is a different topic altogether. Maybe a family pet?
Again, Bob Vila has suggestions to deter rabbits. The most effective is chicken wire. For the greatest efficiency, the chicken wire needs to go 6 to 8 inches into the ground and stand at least 3 feet above the surface – a total of at least 42 inches in width. The chicken wire needs to be supported by a stake of the same height about every 6 feet and fastened with hooks or zip ties. Rabbits will try to dig under the fencing, so check it periodically and bury pieces of metal in the ground on the outer side of the fencing to deter digging.
Then again, perhaps you want Elmer Fudd to find your offending wascally wabbits! For more information from Bob Vila about keeping your garden free from feasting critters, visit Bob Vila.