Slugs, Snails & Puppy Dog Tales

Courtesy of Q. Pense

Photo Courtesy of Q. Pense

As any Northwest gardener knows, you really don’t want to have any slugs or snails in your garden. They are mainly considered nuisances, eating and munching their way through your garden. This past Spring was the first I noticed them eating all my daffodils. The daffodil would be tipped over and there was a little slug happily feeding on the blooms. I almost pictured them tag-teaming a daffodil, climbing carefully up the stem and together their weight would pull it down. But there are benefits to these creatures – they are an important part in our ecosystem, namely that of decomposition. They eat decaying vegetation and return to the soil the nutrients our soil needs to continue to support life.

I have developed a respect for these creatures which can glide across jagged glass without being harmed. They do this through a sticky substance they exude, which we commonly know as their trail. So rather than continue to put out slug bait, I’m trying something new this year. I have installed copper tape around the circumference of my raised beds and potato box.  It needs to be at least 2inches across. This copper tape gives them a small, electric shock. Not enough to harm, but enough to keep them away. I need to keep an eye on the strawberry plants so the snails & slugs don’t have a green highway to cross over, but for now, no serious harm will come to these mollusks – the land cousins of squid and octopus.

And for your inner, listening pleasure, read this to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (I learned this while interning at the Seattle Tilth Children’s Garden).

Slimy, slimy little slug
You live in the garden, but you’re not a bug
In the garden, on the ground
I find your trail, but you don’t make a sound
Slimy, slimy little slug
You have a face only a mother could love.

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