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May 25th, 2010

Slugs, Beer & the Moral Dilemma


My garden is hardly ever a place for moral dilemmas or ethical decisions.

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The dividing line between good and bad is pretty clear. My general policy is Live and Let Live. Unless, of course, you are a malicious little bug intent on destroying my crops—then I will kill you.

I’ve smashed countless Japanese beetles, Colorado potato beetles, grubs, and cabbageworms. One crunch and you know they’re dead. But lacking crunchable parts, slugs offer no satisfaction—and no audible way to tell they’re dead.

At first I tried diplomacy. I spread coffee grounds around my plants, which apparently makes the slugs lose their appetite and wander off. This worked well for a while, but after these last few days of wet weather, the slugs came back with a vengeance.

I found slugs on nearly every plant in my garden: bok choy, kohlrabi, Brussels spouts, broccoli, chard, collards, potatoes, spinach—even on my peas! The only things left untouched were my carrots and my tomatoes, but I knew it was just a matter of time. The diplomacy of coffee grounds had failed. It was time to crank it up a notch.

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It was time for beer.

And that’s where I ran into the moral dilemma. Is it wrong to waste good beer on slugs? Then I remembered I had a can of cheap beer in the fridge, left over from some long-past family picnic.

Why beer? The slugs are attracted to the fermented yeast. Place shallow cups of beer around your garden, and the slugs will fall in and drown. Learn more about slug control here: Slug Stoppers.

I set little cups in each of my raised beds and poured the first round. Here’s to you slugs. Drink and be merry for tomorrow you’ll all be dead.

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May 12th, 2010

Mrs. D's Garden…continued

This past Monday, on my way to work, I stopped in to see my gardening friend, Mrs. D. As I’ve stated somewhere earlier in this blog, her garden is simply the best garden in the area. A visit with Mrs. D is always educational and inspirational. She said things are sort of in between right now, but that in a few weeks there’ll be some more color.

Her peas are what’s happening right now. Check out how she uses an old piece of chicken wire fence to support them. When the peas are done, she just rolls up the fence and puts it back in the shed.

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I’ll be checking back in a few weeks to see how things are progressing.

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May 3rd, 2010

another productive weekend

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I had given up on my carrots, thought they were a no-show. But after weeks and weeks of worry, I finally spotted them, tiny and green, right where I planted them. Go figure.

It was another extremely productive weekend for me. I finished building my raised beds. I added five new beds this year. Digging, digging, and more digging. Glad I’m done.

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I built my fence, but still have to finalize the gate. Right now, I just lean it on the fence posts. I also made a few beds around the edges of the garden, in which I planted nasturtium, calendula, cosmos, parsley, and mint. And I started some marigolds and basil in pots.

The collards and the chard we planted last weekend have germinated. My bok choy, kohlrabi and Brussels were being eaten alive by slugs but I put coffee grounds around each plant and the slugs are gone. I found one potato beetle on my potatoes. I squished it.

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My next venture will be to mulch the paths between the beds. I think I’ll use wood chips. Should I rent a chipper or just go buy a truckload of chips? If I chip the wood myself, I’ll know exactly where the wood comes from.

The other thing I need to work out is my watering system. I mentioned earlier in this blog about making some kind of custom drip hose system by cutting up old hoses and new fittings. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m looking forward to the plant sale this weekend at the Rodale Institute, but am more excited about planting what I buy there in my new raised beds.

And finally, I’m happy to say we ate our first spinach salad from the garden last week: Baby spinach, olive oil, and Locatelli. So good.

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