Jun 042019

As kids, we played follow the leader. Writers and other creatives have followers on their blogs and various social media platforms. And some of us have been followed by an idea. That idea could be anything from free beer to permaculture. A kegger or a system of natural farming with appealing such appealing foundations as:

– care for earth

– care for people

– fair share

I’m a fan of systems thinking. Making decisions in a vacuum has never appealed to me; I’d be hard-pressed to think of a choice or decision that didn’t impact more people, places or things than initially meets the eye. So, to do what we can to make healthy choices for the earth makes sense — and, for the most part, is good for people. And most gardeners already have a handle on that second one: they share extra produce with their neighbors — especially all that yellow squash and zucchini!

Most gardeners already have a handle on caring for people: they share extra produce with their neighbors -- especially all that zucchini! Click To Tweet

And, finally, once we’ve shared with our neighbors, the surplus is reinvested to make the system stronger. Favorite Husband was known as the King of Compost long before we recognized permaculture. It’s not always pretty but, for us, it is the right way to go and produces results in the next planting season.

But, while I try to farm organic, I’m starting to think the garden slugs and sugar ants are going to drive me to defoliants and DDT. Soon. Did you know that, while benign-looking,  those slugs can eat the living hell out of young plants? They make holes. Big holes. They’re almost as destructive as deer.

And ants? When they’re outside, they are wonderful. They build healthy soil many times faster than earthworms and here in the sandy South, that’s something to appreciate. But, for the first time since we’ve been here, there’s a variety that appears to have decided that being out in the sun isn’t healthy and that underground living isn’t for them. They’re coming into the house. Ewww.

As I said, at this level of frustration, my first impulse is to turn to the heavy chemicals. But I know that’s not good for the people or the (invited) pets who live here. So later today I’ll be using glass jars with holes poked into their tops to make sugar and borax filled ant traps. Slower but safer for Favorite Husband and my four-footed loved ones.

But what about the free beer? The short version is that, just like their human counterparts,* garden slugs like beer — the cheaper and nastier the better. Free beer is best. These guys are going for quantity over quality.

Free beer is best. These guys are going for quantity over quality. At least they die happy, right? Click To Tweet

The like it so much that they will dive into little containers just below the surface of the garden soil to have a drink.  The problem (for them anyway) is that there are no bar stools in the little containers: they are slug-sized vats and, to have their own little keg parties in my garden, the critters need to hop in. Directly into the beer. And they drink and drown and die. (Why do I always think about my ex when I set out beer traps?)

At least they die happy, right?


*Disclaimer: I refer here specifically to the Original Bad Boyfriend and other lazy sponges I’ve known in my time on the planet. This does not apply in any way to more civilized folk. In fact, some of my favorite people are beer drinkers.


  9 Responses to “Sugar Ants and Free Beer for Slugs”

  1. Slugs eat a diverse range of plants, including the leaves of vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants in your yard. They have a preference for young, tender plants and will eat both the stems and leaves, destroying the plant. A large number of slugs can make short work of a newly planted garden.

  2. A trick my grandmother shared with me is to crumble eggs shells (from frying up breakfast or baking homemade brownies) and sprinkling them on the ground. I did this for years with my hostas and worked like a charm. I guess we’re not the only beings that prefer not to walk on egg shells! Enjoy the gardening, Andrea.

  3. I had no idea slugs love beer…. I learned something new today!

  4. You have made my day Andrea, especially the part with the beer and your ex! Ants – they do not like baking soda…just sprinkle it where they enter the house, or on counter tops. Decisions based on harmlessness to self and others is the best, but sometimes we need to resort to desperate measures. Organic farming can be challenging bringing its own lessons and rewards!

    • Baking soda is a new one for me. I’ve just gotta keep that big, curious puppy of ours out of everything. I’ve currently got my hands full with the occasional stray shoe or small, unattended waste basket.

  5. My problem in the garden was always woodchucks. Maybe I should have tried beer for them, too. The worst that could happen would be that they’d start tunneling and forget where they were going! Lol!

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