Sunday, July 19, 2009

Slug Season

It must be all the rain so far this summer because my garden is pullulating with slugs and snails. At the beginning of the month we came home to find scores of them oozing trails along the front steps and retaining wall. And we found this massive critter, seen here alongside my 3 in index finger for size reference. Really!

So what have I done with them all? Sluggo may work but it needs to be reapplied after each rainfall. Given that it rains everyday, that seems like a waste of money. Likewise, beer traps (a plastic cup - I reuse yogurt containers - with a couple of inches of STALE beer in the bottom) work but the traps have been overflowing with the rain and I don't often have stale beer.

I read once that the best pesticide a garden can have is the gardener's own shadow. I've taken to plucking up the little slimers and, depending on how altruistic I'm feeling, disposing of them in various ways. Initially, I'd just grab 'em in my bare fingers and lob them into the street where the sun and cars would do their thing. Growing tired of trying to scrape the thick sludge of slug ooze off my fingers, I'd then wrap them in a leaf of some kind so there was no direct contact. What about gloves? First, those, too, due to the incredible volume of slug and snail slime, clotted with the stuff. But mostly I was too unwilling to run up and down 2 flights of stairs to get the gloves because I did not want to be distracted from the battle. One moment's glance away from the enemy and it might roll under a datura leaf and live another day to glut itself.

As the war waged on and they ate more and more of my tomatoes (reseeded on their own from last years plants! no tomato blight here) and my dahlias and my thyme and whatever else they could slither over, I started feeling a little less like a Buddhist believing that all life is sacred and a little more angry. I'd collect them in a big plastic tub and soak them in vinegar to kill them. Why vinegar? I dunno - anger isn't very rational but I think I think it was a reaction against the slime. I wanted to purge them of their slime. And there was something gratifying about watching the bucket burble.

I did think about eating them. No, not raw, though I imagine if you were a very early and/or very hungry human their plumpness might be tempting. Around the same time I was thinking about eating them, so was The Weekly Dig.

Snails are pretty chewy and there's a reason they're served by the French doused in butter and garlic - everything tastes good in butter and garlic - so if they had any real palate value, you could eat them like raw oysters. I don't know about slugs.

Maybe next year.