When my daughter was little, I created the question game. Basically, it’s an either or game. Would you rather eat ice cream or cake? Go down a slide or swing? I still use the game, but I’ve added one telling question. If you had to choose one, would you rather eat a worm or a slug?
Of the hundreds of times I’ve done this, 95 percent of the time the answer is a worm. It’s the ones that choose slugs that I find most compelling. They get a second question. Why?
Me? I’d choose worm. As a kid, you play with worms. As an adult, you have worm farms. You’re happy to see worms in your garden and you feel bad when you accidently chop one up. On the other hand, I do not mourn slugs, even when they die a terrible death in a bag full of salt.
With the warm winter, slugs were more numerous than ever. Places where I never had issues became infested. As the season draws to a close, I want to do what I can to prevent more slugs from surviving this upcoming winter.
Just like people, slugs seek shelter in order to survive the winter. This year, when cleaning up the paths, I moved boards and pulled up weeds around the beds, I found not only slugs, but slug eggs. Lots of slug eggs.
Part of the reason for my troubles was that my garden got away from me. Sunny days tempted me from weeding and then rain created an infusion of buttercups and chickweed.
I also grew a lot of peas to improve my soil, but didn’t take the time to trellis. I staked them with old branches, which had worked before with just a few peas, but this year, the peas grew so tall that the toppled over the branches and created a dense mat of vines.
The slugs weren’t that bad until we got all the rain, which created a perfect habitat for them to prosper. Finding and removing them became more difficult as they were hard to spot.
Normally, I use coffee grounds as a barrier. The grounds improve the soil and the slugs find the acidic nature uncomfortable. I’ve also used hair clippings, egg shells and slug traps to decrease the population.
The problem with all of these solutions is that they work best when you have a tidy garden. To decrease the slugs and the potential slug eggs, I need to finish cleaning up the beds and the paths around the beds and keep it that way during the gardening season.
I also need to remove them and eradicate them, not merely relocate them. Slugs have a homing instinct and will return if you merely lob them away from your garden. After I clean up, I’ll be going around, lifting up boards raking up the soil to eliminate the slugs I find. If you’re a person that would rather eat a slug, then my friend, you’re in luck.
• Corinne Conlon is a freelance writer based out of Juneau. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.