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.

Summer of 2012

So, today I moved into my winter residence. Time for a summer summary:

What grew particularly well:


– Cucumber. Besides pickle cucumbers, I tried a bitter-free F1 hybrid greenhouse cucumber, and while that is in some ways evil (not least because you can’t save the seeds!), they tasted really awesomepants and were extremely productive. They very much enjoyed the watering system I set up with unglazed terracotta pots buried in their pots.

(Continue reading …)

My garden is a jungle

I really need to organise my time better, somehow, so I can spend more time in the countryside. This is driving me crazy.

Today I couldn’t take it anymore and went there for a short time, anyway.

The fava beans near the fence have a bit of an aphid problem. (Maybe the ant colony in the ground nearby is farming them?) Maybe they’ll be okay nevertheless. If I see any ladybirds I put them there to eat the aphids …
I was going to use the totally overgrown bed to the right as a pumpkin bed this year, but maybe that plan is going to hell.

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What I do on a rare free weekend

I built a rocket stove, sewed a blouse and adjusted an old skirt for which my ass had gotten too big, and (finally) seeded the potatoes. Then I biked 22 km back to the city. After that maybe I can endure another week of computer work again …

Today I made a rocket stove and cooked on it. V^(oo)^V

The silvery tape is of course special fireproof aluminium tape, not duct tape … The pot and the “skirt” are from my storm cooker. The grass between the tiles there (that I don’t have the heart to exterminate) is perhaps a bit of a fire hazard, but it’s pretty moist there and I was watching the stove constantly.

It turned out to be quite easy to regulate the heat. For more heat, add more sticks and push them further in, and for lower heat, use less sticks and let them burn closer to the entrance.

It was very easy to make (I got my instructions and design ideas from this post at Milkwood Permaculture), and it’s very efficient. I overdosed fuel at first, not expecting that so little was needed. One stick like the one visible in the photo at a time is enough to cook pasta quite fast. In the summer it’s nice to cook outdoors.

I bought new stove pipes for this project, but all the other materials I had already. I found the big can of vegetable oil in the street last year.

There is no photo of the resulting pasta salad with fresh champignons as well as leafy greens and herbs from my garden, because I eated it before I had a chance to document it.

Piggy blouse

My brand new piggy blouse – made after this pattern, only slightly modified.
Japanese cotton fabric with the three little pigs and the naughty little wolf … :3

I forgot to take photos of my freshly dug potato patch. I dug out trenches for the potatoes, so I can easily cover them with some more earth as they grow, for higher yields.

Let’s see if the slugs will eat the potato plants completely this year, if I can’t be there every day to feed them kitty food …

Here are some other photos from my garden instead:

Two of the tigernuts have sprouted! V*(oo)*V

Some of the other seeds have sprouted as well. It’s not completely clear in all cases what is intentional and what’s a weed. At least the accidental nettles are easy to recognise … I made the silly mistake of putting flowering nettles in the compost last year. V`(oo)´;V

This oak decided that it’s going to grow in my potential sesame/onion bed! Who am I to tell it otherwise? If it survives, that would be a quite nice place for an oak tree. It wouldn’t shade the garden plots, but it would shade the north part of the trailer a bit from the afternoon sun.

Meanwhile, the piggy bean plot is full of food already. There is of course goutweed, and now the nasturtiums are big enough so I can pick their leaves for my salads. Young fava bean leaves are edible, too.
In the center of the photo you can barely see one of the borages that are also sprouting now.

May – yay

Not much is happening here art-wise. These days, most of the time I’m slaving away at dayjobs. 🙁

Still, once or twice a week I do have time to visit my lovely garden …

Everything is so pretty and in bloom. :3

Piggy beans are growing eagerly. :3

(Continue reading …)

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