While those of us in the northern parts of the world are battening down the hatches in anticipation of a harsh winter (UK and Ireland readers, have you been hearing about that, too? Horrible predictions from some American scientists studying the sun) we have many friends smelling the first scents of spring. Lucky you, Aussies and Aucklanders and Argentines! Another year in the garden begins!

The spring brings with it an annoying pest, the slug.

If slugs are a problem in your garden, consider using organic pest control methods to dispose of them, you’ll find them quite nearby.

Start at the beginning with throwing them out of their homes. Rake up your mulch in spring and compost it. Then, start your garden in open soil and wait two months to add a fresh blanket of mulch.

A few years ago, more American scientists, looking for organic ways to kill slugs, found that quack grass (also known as dog grass, or twitch) contains a substance toxic to slugs. Since then, many backyard slug slayers have experimented with feeding the little monsters quackgrass treats, which are made by mixing chopped, dried quackgrass leaves with corn bran, cornstarch and beer. The gifts are placed randomly in the garden, to much effect.

Another option is spraying coffee on plants, in fact caffeine in any form is not good, excepting colas. The sugar there will bring a host of new problems into the garden. Most chemists will sell caffeine pills that you can mix with water and spray directly onto the plants.

The most famous organic remedy is of course, lager. Put an inch or so of any beer in a cup, bury it in the garden nearly to the rim and the slug party will end in tragedy, with a few victims floating in the morning. If you don’t mind the look of it, pour two inches of beer into plastic drink bottles and lay them on their sides in the garden, caps off. The slugs will crawl in and drown. Dump them out and start over again every few days.

Enjoy the southern hemisphere spring rains, for it means summer is on its way!

Arabella May Biddle

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