My funny and cute slug neighbours

D'awwwww ...!

“A horse was tied outside a shop in a narrow Chinese village street. Whenever anyone would try to walk by, the horse would kick him. Before long, a small crowd of villagers had gathered near the shop, arguing about how best to get past the dangerous horse. Suddenly, someone came running. “The Old Master is coming!” he shouted. “He’ll know what to do!”

The crowd watched eagerly as the Old Master came around the corner, saw the horse, turned, and walked down another street.”

(From “The Te of Piglet” by Benjamin Hoff – but disregard his epic fail rant about feminists if you read it.)

Slugs are considered a huge problem for gardeners in many areas. Spanish slugs are an invasive species that probably came to other parts of Europe together with imported vegetables. They thrive in the cooler and more humid climate here, and like to eat many of the same things as humans, and also some ornamental plants that humans like to grow. People often go to great, frustrated lengths trying to kill slugs in traps or even one by one.

My garden is in a kind of boggy area, and I have lots of slugs in my neighbourhood – the stout Spanish slugs dominate, and there are also some pretty and delicate Leopard slugs. Over the three years that I’ve had this place, I’ve figured out through trial and error what vegetables to grow so the slugs don’t eat all of my food. Sometimes they change their mind a bit, and there are lots of things I haven’t tried because I wasn’t interested in eating it, but basically this is the list:

They don’t eat:

– Peas (garden snails like the pods, though, but they aren’t such a big problem as Spanish slugs can be)
– Fava beans (but slugs may nibble the plants a bit when they are about 50 cm high)
– Nasturtium
– Chives
– Oregano
– Garlic
– Borage
– Many delicious wild plants like nettles, goutweed, wild mint, sorrel and wood sorrel

They don’t eat enough to destroy:

– Potatoes (they often eat the plants, but there are ways to distract them, and potato plants grow very quickly and can recuperate even from quite bad slug nibbling attacks if they get some respite)
– Radishes (they only nibble them a little :3 )

The things that both the slugs and I like (such as tomatoes, cucumbers, chard and pole/runner/bush beans) I grow slightly elevated in the greenhouse, and in boxes on my wall and other elevated places.

How to distract slugs:

This may not work with plants that the slugs like way too much to let themselves be distracted, but for me it works with potatoes.

One way is to feed them dry cat food every evening (also great for fertilizing the potatoes if you put it right in the potato land). I haven’t tried if they also prefer vegan cat food over potato plants. Because since I became seriously vegan I discovered that you can also distract them with goutweed cuttings!

This is an amazing thing. My garden produces plenty of goutweed cuttings – I can’t eat it fast enough, and a lot of it quickly grows too big and tough to eat. And the slugs don’t eat goutweed when it’s alive, not even when it’s small and tender, but they do eat decomposing cuttings of it.

They like them the most when the cuttings are about one day old. Garden snails also like them.

And that’s how I’ve become friends with the slugs.

They are really interesting and funny and cute, too, when you watch them …

There was a huge storm, and the morning after the slugs were ravenous with hunger and/or disoriented, and climbed all over the place. Poor things!

Slug swimming/playing Jesus (!!?!)

For a few weeks last summer was quite hot and dry, and I discovered that the slugs were floating around on the vegetation in one of the ponds. At first I was concerned and tried to rescue them, but then I realised that they knew perfectly well what they were doing. They did it on purpose to stay cool and maybe nibble the vegetation a bit …

Slugs chilling by the poolside

Chilling by the poolside after a refreshing swim/float.

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