Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slug wars

Well, the gluttonous gastropods have struck again. These munching mucous membranes won't take no for an answer. So I"ll have to talk a little LOUDER! Time for the heavy artillery!

Here's another shot of the damage. Munched cotyledons and the seed leaves pretty much mowed down too.

This is the reason for my concern. These are trout beans -- a pretty rare heirloom that is often mistaken for Jacob's Cattle beans which have red blotches instead of black ones. (Ok, maybe not "often" -- it only happens with bean people, and the subset of those interested in old varieties, but whatever.) The problem is that these seeds came from a nun. And not just any nun. She was a really old, weathered farmer nun who, before she sold them to me, fixed me in her steely gaze and insisted that I promise to keep this variety going. Apparently, she'd had a hell of a time finding it (I know I'm asking for trouble with that, but I couldn't resisit!). Now, I don't care if you're religious or not, but when a nun pulls a stunt like that on you, you pay attention and then you do your level best (and then some) to live up to it.

So, here's the heavy artillery. Copper. Apparently slugs don't like crawling over copper -- it screws up their nervous system somehow by messing up their wiring as their gunky bodies slither over it. Maybe it's like sticking your tongue on the poles of a nine volt battery -- imagine that on your whole body! YEOWCH!

I have two tries on the go here. One is a roll of copper tape that I stood on edge and stuck in the ground all the way around the rows of beans. I put it on edge to make it extra difficult for those voracious villains to climb over. (I wouldn't put it past them to have little ropes and climbing gear, but at least they'll have to work for their next meal.)

The next product is a roll of copper mesh.

I just cut this in lengths and surrounded another patch of beans (also a rare type -- Sultan's golden crescent, if you happen to be interested). What with the ash and wire mesh it's starting to look a bit like a gulag in the bean patch, but once the plants get established I can take the pest control away. The rocks and stuff are there to keep the mesh in contact with the ground since the slugs might try to go commando and wiggle under it (I used to watch Hogan's Heroes, so I'm well aware of the possibility of tunneling, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

So, that should do it for the beans (unless the slugs happen to be inside my little fences, in which case I'm really doomed now).

It was also time to tie up some tomato plants. They're getting tall enough now to be in danger of breaking over (they can keep growing after that, but it makes the garden a disaster area).

Just tie them loosely to the stakes, and continue to do so after every foot of growth.

Have fun out there!

1 comment:

  1. I have (had) some really cool Calla lilies that some FREAKING LILY SLUGS have obliterated!
    Good thing I loaded up on some really powerful pesticides before they became illegal in Ontario!
    Oops - did I just say that???