Hello! I hope this finds you all cool, comfortable and enjoying your summer.
Things here in Connecticut are HOT! Oh my goodness has it been a scorcher of a week...and there is no end in sight. But the tomatoes, corn and daisies love this weather - we have had an early crop of sweet corn available at the farmer's market and oh what a lovely pleasure that is! Almost makes the heat worth it. Almost!
During this heatwave we have been making an extra effort to water the gardens deeply and keeping an eye on any plants in containers, which are being watered at least twice daily. Our days begin super early - we are on sites at 6am to take advantage of slightly cooler temperatures - and we are drinking lots and lots of water and watermelon juice.
My appetite plummets in the heat but I'm loving Bonnie's seasonal food posts. These are the foods my body actually wants to eat in this weather. Blueberries are big in my kitchen right now and I've been eating a lot of Salvadoran Grilled Corn...oh so yummy! I found the recipe on Gourmet.com and am craving it again just writing about it.....
Photograph by Gabriele Stabile via Gourmet.com
So this week we are going to talk about slugs and snails. I have to say, these guys don't give me as much grief as the Japanese Beetles do. I've battled them for years, and have finally found a way to decrease their numbers in my gardens. And it is pretty simple - I use clean gardening practices, handy gardening friends, hand picking and Sluggo to deal with slugs & snails.
What are clean gardening practices?
Basically this means that I understand the life cycle and habits of the slugs and snails and create a gardening environment that is hostile to them. Slugs and Snails feed after sundown and early in the morning, love shady and moist areas and have to climb up my plants to get to the tender and nibbly worthy leaves. They love deep applications of mulch and garden debris - wonderful places to hide, and I think I hear them squealing for joy every time I drive past someone with their sprinklers turned on past 4 pm....what a bunch of lovely damp areas for the crawly guys to explore that evening.
Don't water in the evenings - water early in the morning. Except containers, which are watered twice a day if needed. (I water my containers when I arrive home from work and first thing in the morning) Keep your garden clean and clear of plant debris. Clean up after yourself every time you are out there - don't leave plastic plant pots laying about in the garden after you have planted the plants they contained, clean up piles of leaves and dead plant material, don't apply more than 3 inches of mulch (at most....2 inches is usually more than enough) remove dead plant material and generally keep a tidy and clean garden.
This may seem like obvious advice, but who hasn't felt lazy after a day of planting and left bits and pieces to go out and finish tomorrow...or next week...or next month...or next year. And many people water in the evenings thinking that is the right thing to do. If you are doing this then STOP! Water early in the morning and water deeply. This will help prevent lots of garden issues, including pests and diseases.
Who are my handy gardening friends?
Frogs! Toads! Snakes! Birds! Ducks! Yes please - you are welcome in my garden at any time!!
These guys are my handy friends. I keep my garden organic and animal friendly so nature can come on in and do lots of my dirty work for me. I create homes for toads by overturning my broken flowerpots, putting them in a cool, shady spot and making certain there is enough room for the toads to hang out in during the day. I lay shallow containers of water throughout shady parts of my gardens -my niece calls them fairy bowls, but I call them toad ponds. These encourage animals to come and make themselves at home...and perhaps stay for a lovely dinner of slugs! I keep a clean birdbath and create areas of my garden where I allow plants to go to seed so the birds can eat them. I welcome the snakes - knowing they may eat a frog here and there, but they will mostly be eating slugs. Simply allowing an ecosystem to thrive out in my backyard reduces the need for much input from me.
Handpicking of slugs and snails:
Here is my preferred method of dealing with slugs. And most garden folk will knowingly smile when I tell you this: wood. Yes, good old fashioned pieces of old non treated wood throughout my garden. I lay them down, the slugs love the damp shade they provide, I turn them over in the morning and drop the slugs into a container of water. I give the slugs to the ducks in my life...they like them lots better than bread! Goodbye slugs.
Beer traps are another method, and although I do not use them, some swear by them. Basically you fill a shallow dish with beer, set it out in the garden and let the slugs come on over and drink till they drown. Empty and refresh the traps every couple of days. Some people add extra yeast to the beer (it is the yeast the slugs are attracted to, not the alcohol!) I'm not a beer drinker, and hate the smell of stale beer, so this method has never appealed to me. But it might be your favorite thing ever, so here are some easy to understand instructions on building your own beer trap.
This is an iron phosphate based product that is safer to use than conventional slug killers. It works by poisoning the slugs. A little goes a long way, and it does need to be reapplied after a couple of heavy rains - you can watch the pellets dissolve over time. I don't use this much, but when I do it is usually around client containers with trailing plants. Petunias are a special love of slugs, and they can take an entire plant down in one night....gah!
There are many other "remedies" for slugs. Coffee grounds around plants are said to work (the caffeine kills the slugs), a mixture of 1/3 ammonia to 2/3 water sprayed around plants is another method I've heard of. You can try copper wire around the base of flower pots - make sure it is at least 2 inches wide, some folks swear by seaweed piled on in the garden - the salt kills the slugs and the seaweed is an excellent compost. I've not tried these methods yet, but if you have please let me know how it worked out for you!
On paper diatomaceous earth is supposed to work on slugs, but I've seen them roll on over the stuff and be just fine!I don't know, maybe they died later....
So there we go - slugs and snails no more. Any questions? Any other advice? I would love to hear from you!! Stay cool and hydrated and I'll see y'all in the comments!