I hate slugs. I HATE them. I loathe them with the kind of passion I can usually only muster for Conservative party policy against refugees and the fictional character of Izzy Stevens, Grey’s Anatomy, seasons 1-6.
I don’t have a very big garden where I live. It’s a patch of decking with a built in bed in the shadiest corner (long story as to why) and a few pots which I have lovingly planted with beautiful flowers to make my housemates and me happy. (There are also two window boxes at the front which I have lovingly planted with beautiful flowers to stop cats from shitting on our windowsills but that’s another story.) I also have one large pot and a couple of smaller ones which I filled with fresh herbs because for SOME REASON I have been doing a lot of cooking at home recently.
Here is my herb pot BS (before slugs):
And here it is ABS (after bastard slugs):
Look at it. LOOK AT IT. The basil was the first to go - overnight, from verdant lushness to a miserable line of stalks. Next up they went for the camomile. That took a little bit longer - long enough that I was able to put parsley on my daily salad maybe two or three times before they ate all of that as well. After that, they moved on to the mint in the next door pot, then the lavender a bit further down, all three hydrangeas in the long bed, and this morning I noticed a few tell-tale holes in the daisies and the geraniums. The only things that they are refusing to eat (for now) are the thyme and the rosemary, and while I am grateful for whatever is spared this slug-ocalypse, I don’t think I can make an entire garden just from rosemary and thyme. (Rosemary & Thyme, as it happens, is also the name of a cosy crime drama about two gardener detectives played by Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendall, which is so bad that even my TV-detective-addicted housemate won’t watch it, and she watches Wycliffe. In my wilder moments I wonder whether the slugs are communicating their disdain for this television programme by their refusal to eat those herbs, but that’s obviously ridiculous. Slugs are such repellant little shits, they are probably communicating that they are fans of it.)
I can’t lay the blame entirely on slugs - the garden is also overrun with snails, but the big difference is that snails have shells, which means that I can pick them up and toss them over the fence, to next door which is just a scrubby verge next to a car park where they can munch their way through the grass and weeds and await their destiny of being eaten by birds or French people. (I’m half French myself, though not the snail-eating half. Still, I consider it notable that while the French proudly eat snails, they don’t eat slugs, or if they do, they are not proud about it. I just googled “do people eat slugs” to be sure - never let it be said that I don’t fact check these newsletters assiduously - and the articles that came up included such headlines as “man dies eight years after swallowing a live slug that left him paralysed” as well as contextually not entirely reassuring articles that say sure you can eat them, just cook them properly first. Rather you than me.) Anyway, the point is that while I am willing to pick up snails by the shell, I am NOT touching slugs with my hands. NO. SLUGS ARE DISGUSTING. I AM ONLY HUMAN AND I HAVE LIMITS.
I have had many conversations about slugs with my neighbours of late. For slow-moving creatures they sure get around. Everyone has a theory of what to do about them. One neighbour stamps on them. I identify with the urge but I can’t stomach the way they squish underfoot. Another surrounds her plants with coffee grounds and egg shells, but I don’t drink coffee and only eat about two eggs a month. Another swears by slug pellets, which she says make them implode in a satisfying manner, but she added that she’s slightly concerned that the slug poison will get into the birds that eat them, and that put me off. (Though I have to say that I don’t think that the birds are really pulling their weight in the slug eating department, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this position, so they only have themselves to blame.) Which leaves me with salt. Yesterday, I went outside and discovered two huge slugs approaching what remains of my busy lizzies, and I poured kitchen salt onto both of them and watched them shrivel and die and I felt NOTHING. This is a sign of psychopathy and it is certainly a bar on my ever becoming a vegan, but I don’t care. Just a little sprinkling of salt and the slugs disappear, leaving my garden to live on and bloom another day.