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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