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Posts Tagged ‘KILLER slugs’

They’re Baa-aack…


The fearsome hunter and his weapon

Well, this spring I posted about how something was “missing” from the garden; the slugs were a long time in coming this year, but they’ve finally appeared. Sadly…

Their numbers aren’t as great as they have been other years; this morning I only found 34 while strolling around in the garden with my morning coffee, but I’m sure they will soon regain their former numbers unless I keep at it, so I do. At least now there are 34 fewer slugs that can eat my plants.

It might be a somewhat macabre start to the day, strolling around the garden in my bathrobe with a sharp hoe to cut the little bastards in two, but it’s effective, and when carried out regularly it actually seems to do a better job at controlling slug numbers than pellets did when I tried those.

Further to the 34 slugs, a meagre 4 common garden snails also crossed my way, and these were expedited in much the same way as the slugs.

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I’ve been taking a walk around the garden this wet morning, and something struck me. Well, apart from the rain drops that insisted on falling on me, even though I was clearly not attired to be rained upon; I find that very inconsiderate of the weather! Or perhaps I should know better than to walk around in the garden in my bathrobe when there’s a drizzle?

Anyway. Something is missing in the garden.

Tulips in the rain

Look closely at the picture above. See how there is not a single slug in sight?

The dreaded Killer Slugs should be abroad by now, feasting on everything they can lay their what-ya-ma-call-its on.

Peony shoots

The peony shoots are also delightfully slug-free. (Though surrounded by weeds. Ah, well; you can’t have it all, can you?)

Sure, we had a cold and long winter and a late spring, but the Killer Slugs, a.k.a. the invasive Iberian slugs that have been wreaking havoc in Danish gardens over the past decade, are normally quite hardy and should be able to survive even a cold winter as they burrow 6 inches into the ground to hibernate.

Lawn

On a wet morning in May they ought to be out in droves, but they are nowhere to be seen. Not that I’m complaining, mind; I’m perfectly happy if they never return – and more than a little naïve if I think that’s likely…

We do have the native small garden slugs, but they are fewer and less aggressive than the Killer Slugs.

Snail

We also have lots of snails, but again they do much less damage than the Killer Slugs – and are easier to deal with as they are less yucky than 3-5-inch slugs!

Red tulip

Anyway, this means that I have not yet gotten my slug-killing spear out of the shed this year and instead of looking for slugs to kill I can just enjoy the flowers in the garden.

Yellow tulip

I must say, I could get used to this killer slug free style of gardening, but I guess I had better remain alert because sooner or later I’m sure they will appear and then the War On Slugs will be on again.

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Eight slugs a-slugging

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Yes, the slugs… Obviously we have no slugs in the garden during winter – or at least that’s what it looks like. 2-4″ below the surface they are just waiting for warmer weather to emerge, for the eggs to hatch and for my poor plants to be attacked. And “Eight Slugs A-Slugging” is a gross underestimate!!! My record remains 179 slugs killed within one hour in the first year we had the garden…

Some gastropods are better than the slugs, though, and I’ve tried getting some of those into the garden. The Roman snail will eat some plants and shoots, but they prefer dead or decaying plants – and more importantly they like feeding on the eggs and younglings of other gastropods…

Also, I find them attractive in their own right with their large brown and grey shells… And I will tolerate if they eat some of my plants as long as they eat a few slug eggs as well!

 Mind you, more than anything else I have to count on myself to kill slugs. Since I released the Roman snails in the garden I’ve stopped using slug pellets, but instead I use my trusty slug spear. I suspect it was originally designed as a hoe to be used between paving stones, but when you keep the edge sharpened it’s the perfect tool for killing slugs. Less fussy that collecting them and killing them with boiling water, and definitely a quick and humane way to kill them off. After all, even slugs deserve a quick death, right? (Well, slugs more than anything deserve a quick death!!! ALL OF THEM!!!)

And as the picture shows, early mornings when you are still in your bathrobe is probably the best time of day to kill slugs. They like it while there is still some humidity in the air but it’s not cold… (All right, so perhaps it would be a good idea to put on some trousers, because straddling The Puddles in a bathrobe is not really very dignified and the neighbours might see more than they really need to of the gardener…)

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-I kill slugs, therefore I am

I’m sure this is what Descartes meant to write, right?

The fearsome hunter and his weapon

The fearsome hunter and his weapon

The death-toll last night ended at 83 slugs that will no longer prey on my dahlias. During spring we didn’t really see many slugs, probably due to the dry weather, but the wet and – to be polite – temperate summer has brought them out in droves.Like last year. And the year before.

Some of the other animals that eat our plants and flowers are accepted and even loved; The Flâneur Husband has repeatedly said about the deer that “they were here before us”, indicating that we just have to accept and adapt. This attitude doesn’t really transfer to slugs, though… Perhaps because they’re not as cute? Maybe it would all be different if Disney made a cute movie about a mother-less slug that grew up having to fend for itself, avoiding pellets and angry flâneur gardeners with sharp hoes? I somehow doubt it, though.

No, the slugs must die. If not all of them, then as many as possible. I could go all nationalistic and say that the Iberian slug is an invasive species and we need to protect our local flora and fauna by doing our best to eradicate it or at least keep it at bay, but the truth is they eat my dahlias and they’re just gross. DIE, I said.

And they’re devious little monsters… This was my view last night as I was sitting on the covered terrace with a cup of coffee. (Okay, it was a glass of Chardonnay…)

You don’t see it? Well, how about this?

You see, they don’t just stay on the ground, oh no. That would make it too easy to hunt them down. No, they think nothing of climbing shrubs and trees when it takes their fancy!

Pesky little bastards… DIE, I said!

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Sunday morning there was a pheasant cock crowing his rather unpleasant cry from the forest nearby, and later in the morning he passed by our garden on the road.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of him, so the above is the best I could do; he was strutting his stuff on the lawn across the road, crowing happily to mark that this is – apparently – his territory.

There was also a visiting starling, inspecting one of the nesting boxes. I do hope he/she found it to their liking so we can have little starling babies (starlets?) this summer.

Of course there was also the regular crew of sparrows, blackbirds, wagtails, robins and the odd sets of swans and geese overhead, as well as the first butterfly (small white) and I even heard a bumble bee, though he was hiding in the bushes so I couldn’t see him. Oh, and a squirrel stopped by the fir tree by and treated the hedgerow as some sort of playground, much adding to my morning entertainment.

Spiders, woodlice and other small critters are also abundant in the garden these days, and it looks like we have a new shrew living in the raised hedgerow; there is certainly a tunnel that looks like it could be the right size for such a small animal.

I have not seen any of the invasive Spanish slugs yet, but that’s only a matter of time, I fear. The small native grey slugs have already emerged, so I have no doubt that the large brown buggers will soon follow. We might have a new resident shrew, but I’d also like to attract a hedgehog and perhaps a toad since there will probably be slugs enough for all of them to eat their fill.

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I’ve been wondering how to protect my garden – and in particular my dahlias – from slugs, and though I have (organic) slug pellets and am not afraid to use them, it does seem I will need something more powerful.

A few years ago while I was in Greenland on summer holiday I bought a tupilaq. Or rather, a modern replica of one, since mine was carved for sale, rather than as a spirit avenger.

The tupilaq was manifested in real, human-made object. It was made by people to the detriment of their enemies. It was a puppet-like thing, but was thought of have magical power onto the victim.” (Wikipedia)

Now, in the garden my main enemy is the Killer slugs (Spanish slugs), so I figure I might as well try to get my tupilaq to target those.

image

For some strange reason the Flâneur Husband doesn’t find her attractive and seems keen on getting rid of her, so perhaps he’d also prefer if she took up residence in the summer house, rather than in the apartment. I love her, though; she’s made of reindeer antlers, and while some parts of her have the porous texture of the inside of the bone, her animal companions and her breasts have a glorious ivory-like glow to them that begs to be touched. She might not be the conventional “looker”, but she has a certain voluptuous fertility to her that makes me think she’ll enjoy protecting a garden.

She has a friend:

His shape is simpler – more monolithic – than hers, but he has another thing going for him; he was made from reindeer antlers that have been buried in the boggy soil outside Nuuk for a year or two so the antler would start to rot and as a result begin to take colour. The pale pink of his head and the greenish tint of his diamond-patterned body are the results of this. Mind you, the best thing about this tupilaq is the contrast between his smooth head and tail and the sharp feel of the diamond pattern on his body; this is one item that seems designed to be touched!

He will remain in the apartment, simply because I love holding him and feeling the different textures, but she will need to find a place in the summer house. After all, all’s fair in love and war, right? And I love my garden and have now declared war on the slugs, by means natural (i.e. organic) and supernatural!

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Today started out with a nice, mild, sunny morning with barely a wind, but then this afternoon the wind picked up and it started to snow. *sigh*

-And then as I was leaving the office the snow turned to rain… *sigh*

But: My dahlia seed order arrived today! That makes up for the weather, at least in part. *YAY*

(I also received a text from my optician that my new prescription sunglasses are ready to be picked up, but given that the weather forecast hasn’t a sun in sight before possibly Saturday, I decided that it’s not urgent to pick those up.)

I may try to limit myself (only four different packets of dahlia seed, and each packet will be split evenly between my mother and me), but at heart I think I might be a seed hoarder; I feel like buying all the seeds I can get my hands on – flowers, vegetables, perennials, annuals – even though I know there’s no way I will have the time – or space – to prepare enough beds for them. So I’m trying to make a list of what I need, and I guess I only really NEED to buy beans, and maybe some peas in case the seed I collected last year isn’t viable.

Last year I had three kinds of beans – or rather, I had two and the slugs had the low yellow beans before they had even reached 5 inches – and this year I think I will restrain myself to two kinds. I need to have normal French climber beans, and then perhaps runner beans, broad beans or some other slightly more rustic bean type. (The slugs stayed away from the climbing beans last year, perhaps because I sowed a row of marigolds between the two rows of beans; I shall repeat that this year and hope that it was the scent of marigolds that kept the slugs away. I collected plenty of seeds last year, so there should be enough to sow a row in each of the vegetable patches.)

I’ve already bought brassica seeds (radishes, kohlrabi and kale), so basically that will be my vegetable garden this year. I will need to watch the slugs, though, which is very difficult when I can only get up to the garden every one or two weekends… Slug pellets WILL be used, though of the sort that is approved for organic farming and is supposed not to harm any other animals than gastropods. They contain only wheat flour and iron phosphate, and I hope they are as harmless as they claim to be – except of course for the slugs.

(One summer evening shortly after we bought the summer house I collected – and killed – 179 Iberian slugs, a highly invasive species of slugs that seem to have a much greater appetite for plants – and procreation – than our native slug species… They are now endemic throughout Denmark and like cool, damp areas like, say, our garden! Wikipedia says: “The main reason behind problematic invasions of gardens by the Spanish slug is that it has adapted to a dry climate, where most eggs will dry out before hatching. The slug lays hundreds of eggs so that at least some may hatch. In the less dry regions of Northern Europe and Britain, the constraints of drought do not limit reproduction to the same degree.”)

(God, I have a lot of parentheses in this post!)

Anyway… Where’s my spring? And my weekend so I can get up to the garden and ger cracking with all the stuff that needs doing, including digging out a new bed from the lawn, extending the Ambitious Border and getting the raised vegetable beds into some sort of shape before the growing season starts!

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