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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Slugs in your Garden

By Joseph Parish

It will not be long now as everyone is rapidly getting energized about their projected garden. Here in Delaware all we can do at this time is plan. We could perhaps prepare our garden soils but as far as placing any plants outside at this time it is still a bit cool.

My wife has begun various vegetables indoors in an attempt to get them into the ground and allow them to be as productive as they can in a short period of time. We used the Aero-grow this year for starting most of our veggies. It appears that they have a generic growing insert that you can place your own seeds into. It was a little disappointing but that's another story.

As soon as we place our plants in the open we have to seriously consider several other problem areas. That consideration is centered on the various pests which seem to enjoy our garden as much as we do. One of the major pests is the slug. Out of all the damaging creatures associated with a garden perhaps the slug is considered the worse of them all. These annoying organisms seem to thrive under most high moisture environments and are some of the most difficult creatures to get under control. You will find them ready to feast out shortly after a spring rainfall. Slugs are often times difficult to detect as they tend to hide in the daytime when it is warm and dry but they appear in the evenings when the air is moist. The slug population depends upon the water content that is in your garden therefore the most effective method for reducing or eliminating slugs is by simply reducing the moisture around the garden but let's face it - we have to water our plants do we not?

Several means by which the home gardener can control these pests is listed in this article. The first is by use of Metaldehyde baits. Although these chemicals can possibly provide a measure of control they must be carefully applied as well as used at the proper time. Metaldehyde is generally sold as a granular type of bait or as a gel or paste. Most of these products are labeled for use with flower gardens. You should not apply this chemical directly to your vegetables or edible crops. If you have pets that roam outdoors this chemical can cause a very agonizing death.

You can find an alternative to Metaldehyde which uses an iron phosphate base as its active ingredient. This is generally sold under the name of Sluggo, Esca-Go or Slug Magic. Iron phosphate products can safely be used around your edible crops.

Usually slugs are attracted to any type of fermenting products such as beer. You can readily purchase commercially manufactured slug traps which use a similar method of fermentation material to capture the pests. However, it is not necessary to purchase these traps when you can just as easily make your own.

If you wish to try your luck at slug trap making here is the simplest that it gets. Use the plastic 12 ounce soda or water bottles and place either a little bit of beer in the bottom or some commercial slug bait into it. Lay the bottles on their sides and slightly bury them so that the mouth of the bottle is perfectly level with the ground. The slugs should be able to make their way into the bottles without difficulty. After you have captured the slugs you will merely need to toss the bottle into the trash. If you are using slug bait as opposed to beer make sure that you wet it a bit. Sluggo appears to be the most effective bait to use in these bottle traps.

Alternately you could sink some old pie pans or any type of shallow containers into the ground and place some beer in them. The slugs will be attracted to the beer and will crawl into the pans and drown.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


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