Slugs and Other Bugs

First Encounter

A few days ago I had my first encounter with a slug. Sure I’ve seen slugs before, but this was my first encounter with a slug, as many a gardener would understand. For the last week I have watched my little pak choy crop wither away into near non-existence. I frantically searched the area for bugs. A google search led me to believe I had a flea beetle problem. I bought nets to cover my crops. I put them on. It rained. I took them off- The rain had made them too heavy on my baby pak choys. All the time my plants were being nibbled, munched and crunched.

Finally, I simply sat down in front of my plants, rather than scurrying about doing my work. I was having a casual chat with my arugula when I saw it- a slug! Turn’s out the slugs were going for most of my green leafy crops. So I set off on a slug hunting expedition. I filled a bucket with soapy water and patiently picked slugs off of my crops for the afternoon.



Follow-up Slug Hunting

I learnt some valuable things from my slimy and voracious friends.

  1. I learnt to just sit and watch: The things that I notice when I’m not hurrying are amazing! I bet any well-seasoned gardener could tell you this in a heartbeat. But for me, I’ve only just discovered the value in sitting still and watching. It gives me the chance to really see my garden.
  2. I started a daily slug-hunt! It’s becoming an evening tradition. I’ve realized that if I stay on top of this task, the slugs don’t have as much of an opportunity to eat my beloved plants. Hopefully they will also have less of a chance to procreate (however it is that slugs procreate).

Integrated Pest Management

It’s really important to me to try and maintain organic practices in my garden. That means I want to try to avoid things like pesticides and slug bait. I want to embrace my garden as an ecosystem (a manufactured one, sure). Because of this I have decided to turn to Integrated Pest Management.

Integrated Pest Management, IPM for short, is a system of managing pest problems as naturally as possible. IPM uses a broad range of approaches to deal with pests. Strategies can include biological, cultural, physical and chemical approaches. The idea is to start from the least ecologically disruptive strategies for managing our pests and, if these do not control the problem, we work our way towards more environmentally disruptive strategies as appropriate. It’s a controlled and clever way of dealing with pests. I intend to learn more about it as I deal with my slimy slugs.

A fantastic resource that I have found is the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. This site is exhaustive and will be of great help to any gardener, in California or anywhere else. The link is provided below.

So I urge you fellow gardeners to put down the pesticides! I will be ramping up my slug hunting in the days to come using the advice from the UC IPM program.

How about you? Have you stumbled into any creepy crawlies this Spring? What’s your favorite organic approach to pests?