Organic gardening: how to get rid of slugs.

Has anyone else noticed the gross, slimy, new neighbors that just moved in? They’re really annoying. Always asking for food and leaving their trash everywhere. Really inconsiderate if you ask me.

The problem with slugs is they affect just about everything, feeding on the soft tissue of your fruits and vegetables leaving huge gnarly holes on your leaves. When I was a kid my brother would pour salt on them and I would sit there crying, begging him to stop, wondering why someone would be so cruel. I’ve now had a change of heart and I might be just as cruel as he was.

So how do you get rid of them once you’ve caught them? There are a ton of organic and natural options out there, although they might be more work, they are completely worth it! Here are a few options:

Picking and Soaping. My preferable option of termination is handpicking them off my plants and dropping them into a soapy cup of water. I do this in the evening or in the early morning before the sun is up. Also keep in mind, that for every slug you find there are 20 more you haven’t seen, so be vigilant! I’ve also noticed they love soaker hoses, so check near those as well.

Booby Trapping. Turning over pots and wooden boards are great ways to temporarily catch slugs and snails, just make sure you check before the sun rises or after the sun sets to catch them and scoop them into some soapy water before they leave. Also, sprinkling wood ash or sawdust around the plants sucks moisture away from the slugs and deters them from crossing.

Poisoning. Wormwood tea is made from Artemisia. It’s a botanical poison that repels most bugs, snails, and slugs. If you use it in the fall it will also kill all burrowing slugs that are hiding and/or hibernating. To make this wonderful tea Steep 1 cup of Artemisia in 1 quart of warm water for 24 hours. Strain the liquid and add 1 tbs of castile soap. Add 8 ozs. of tea to 1 quart of water and spray on the soil.

Shocking. Place copper strips or foil around your garden. The copper is supposed to send an electrical shock which keeps them at bay.

Pesticiding. If you have a more serious infestation you can buy iron phosphate baits at your local gardening store. THIS IS NOT ORGANIC.

Mother Nature. The most important thing you can do is create a happy ecosystem by encouraging certain bugs into the garden. Ants, beetle grubs, earwigs , birds, snakes, toads and turtles all love snacking on slugs!

Good luck in the hunt!

1320_10101298222284102_1654001238_n

 

Portia Westesen

Advertisements

Common Zucchini Problems

If you live in the humid region of the United States, growing Zucchini can be a real pain. High humidity breeds and homes thousands of bugs, so you need to watch your zucchini carefully. I suggest going out every morning to watch for a few things:

1) Is your plant wilting a ton? Check the base of the plant. If it’s covered with saw dust looking bits then it is the squash vine borer. Use a sharp knife and make an incision on the base of the stem, right above the infected area. Carefully pull it back and you should see the maggot/bug. Take him out and bury the cut you made in the plant. It should recover just fine.

A friend of mine, Jen, is an avid gardener in Oklahoma and recently had this problem! She was able to save some of her plants after taking those little grubby bugs out. Here’s a picture of her beautiful garden and a picture where the squash vine borer lived.

1016100_595680107130338_998184086_n 1001054_595624900469192_1710821342_n

2) Is your plant shriveling up, turning brown and falling off? Then that’s a pollinating issue that you’ll need to use a paint brush to manually help them pollinate. First you need to distinguish the male blossoms from the female blossoms:

image (1)

The male plants just have a nice long thin stem where as the females have kind of a plumpness (that eventually becomes a zucchini) under the flower. From there you take a small paint brush and run it across the center of the male blossom, where the pollen is. Then gently brush it over the center stigma of the female. Done!


3) Is your plant speckled and turning black? It’s the squash bug! Handpicking them seems to be the best way to kill them, just knock them off into a can of soapy water, but you can also use insecticide, like Bacillus thuringiensis, which is an organic insecticide. The best time to catch them is in the early morning hours when they’re still a little sleepy and not as alert.

squash-bugs-2  squashBugAdult

Squash home grown is so much tastier than store bought, plus in our grocery store it’s about .55 cents per zucchini! Outrageous.  With how much zucchini one plant can produce I’ve realized that it is well worth my time to keep it alive 🙂

Portia Westesen

Are Earwigs bad for my garden?

I’m grateful at times for living in Utah. The climate is perfect, dry and sunny, and you don’t really have to worry that much about bugs. Which is a great thing for those vegetables that are prone to bugs. And although we don’t have a ton of bugs, we still have a few pesky ones that drive me crazy.

I went out into my garden yesterday and saw A TON of holes in my plants. WHAT?!

photo (1) photo (2)

I was a little on the panicky side for the entire day, thinking that my garden, along with a few gardens of some friends, would be eaten by bugs. Later that day I was trying to re-arrange my zucchini from taking over all my onions and shallots (BAD day for shallots) when I found these guys hiding in a trellis:

photo (3)

….earwigs….

….I hate earwigs….

Not to mention the horror stories you grew up hearing about them crawling through your ear and eating your brain! (Which, FYI, is false).

But I have some good news about these guys, they aren’t all bad! And although they can make a few plants look like they have leprosy, they don’t  necessarily hurt them. Earwigs are also known for eating larvae, slugs, snails, and other garden foes. So in the long run, they might be worth keeping!

Portia Westesen