6.20.2011

Organic Slug Control

Welcome to the rainy season, the slug season and the longest days of the year, 20 hours of cloudy days, woohoo! I jest I jest, I love June and all it's moody rainy weather, except for that slug part. I could live without slugs, I don't like what they do to my plants, especially the cabbage and cauliflower. Nothing is more disgusting, garden wise, that cutting a prime head of cabbage and having it covered in slugs. Bleck.

I certainly don't despise them enough to ever justify poisoning them. The ramifications of poisoning unwanted 'pests' are huge. Poisoning slugs not only kills slugs but any animals that eat them, including all of the wild birds that grace us with their presence and our escaped chickens. And anything that might eat that dead or dying thing can get sick, like eagles, dogs, cats, fox, lynx, magpies...Poison is out for us, clearly I need organic slug control.

I'm using a new approach this year, a double pronged approach if you will. First I will be hand picking any slugs I see and feeding them to the chickens. Second I am recycling egg shells to make gritty little barriers that slugs cannot cross.

Here is how I'm doing it-I'm saving eggshells, giving them a quick rinse and popping them in the freezer in a baggie.
When I have a pan full of eggshells, I'm baking them, broiling actually, until they are dry but not too burned.

Then they get whirled in the food processor until they are completely crushed up.

And it's out to the broccoli bed.

I made an outside perimeter of crushed shells all around the plants.


Then I started around each plant itself but I ran out. I'm already saving more eggshells in the freezer so I can finish the bed and all the rest of the gardens. Start to finish this was a 20 minute procedure, 10 minutes to bake the eggshells, a few to cool the shells and crush them and then to sprinkle around.

I don't want to kill all slugs, I just want them to leave my food plants alone. When I clean out the bed in the fall I'll cover the whole thing with compost and turn all the crushed eggshells under with the compost and start over next year. Eggshells are a good source of calcium for the garden so this plan is win/win for the garden.

I have used the beer in small bowls trick to catch slugs before and never had much luck. The only thing I ever had in the beer was the dog, who was then in the garden, where I didn't want him to be. Apparently you're supposed the put the beer out of the garden to lure the slugs out.

I have also kept ducks and geese in hopes that they would eat the slugs but not the plants. My ducks and geese really loved green food as much as any other food and thought the garden should be nibbled thoroughly. They ate everything but the slugs.

I'm really hoping that a crunchy sprinkle of eggshell will deter the slugs and send them off to eat weeds. And anything I do catch in or around the vegetable gardens will be sent to the chickens for a quick execution. I have a lot more gardens to sprinkle shells in so you can bet we'll be eating a LOT of eggs this week and next and the week after that.

Peace and Love--


4 comments:

  1. I am REALLY looking forward to a fall update on this method.

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  2. Cool trick! If I had a garden this year I would totally do that with all the eggs shells I am getting from YOUR beautiful eggs! One question: how come you broil the eggs first? I am assuming there is a good reason they can't they just go in fresh after just air drying a bit. Just curious! :) J

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  3. good question, they need to dry completely plus broiling, or baking even, makes them crush easily and it bakes away that little bit of membrane that holds the eggs in! :)

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  4. Our local farm supply store and the grain mill sell dried crushed egg shells. I know you're trying to be as money efficient as possible but if you needed more in a hurry that might help. Do they have farm co-ops in Alaska?

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