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A better use for coconut shells than South Pacific costumes: organic slug control

May 30th, 2005 · 6 Comments

What to do with a coconut shell? Let’s see ….I could make a costume ala South Pacific, a musical I watched often as a child. This parent -oriented review rates the 1958 movie as B- for sexual content including : Cross-dressing man wears grass skirt and coconut-shell bra.

Last year we cracked a coconut open and after we ate the meat, I gave the shell to the kids as an outdoor toy. One half seems to have found a home in Abigail’s garden. No costumes made with it yet. It’s camouflaged in the compost.

But I’ve discovered a new use for coconut shells. I don’t know what to do to protect my plants from the ravenous slugs. So in the morning I act with vengeance. I pick up the cracked coconut shell and use it to crush the slimy creatures. Does that count as organic slug control?

This year the garden has gone to the slugs. The first spring we lived in our new house, everything I planted grew. It was a piece of Paradise on the side of our house. Eden reimagined on an island. Or so it seems in rose-colored retrospect.

Now the birds taunt me, leaving piles of sunflower seed shells where we had hoped for flowers. That first year we grew forests of teddy bear sunflowers where tree frogs sunned themselves, green spots hopping amidst the yellow. It’s never happened again and I covet my neighbors, wondering why their seeds are left alone and ours are devoured.

The slugs, their allies, attack seedlings, mocking my receipts. I thought I was making investments for our yard when instead I was opening a gourmet restaurant for invertebrates. One day I see a pair of leaves emerging from the soil and the next day I can’t see any evidence a plant once existed there.

This spring I’ve been giving attention to other areas of our yard and neglecting the garden, somewhat intentionally. I’ve realized I can only focus on so many projects at once. Next year I’ll add compost and plants with intensity.

However, I am frustrated by the feasting slugs. We would like to see the seeds and plants grow. If anyone has any ideas of safe organic ways to repel such pests, I will be grateful.

In the meantime, I’ll resort to grabbing the coconut shell and inflicting my revenge…all the while singing I’m Gonna Crush That Slug Right Outta My Garden (with apologies to Roger and Hammerstein) belting out my best Mitzi Gaynor …

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ed // May 30, 2005 at 10:36 pm


    I might give the beer trap a try…

  • 2 Bill Harris // May 31, 2005 at 9:03 am

    The iron phosphate (Sluggo or the new Lily Miller equivalent) concoctions seem to work.

  • 3 mary // May 31, 2005 at 12:03 pm

    Slugs are my sworn enemies, too. I have nothing but contempt for them and have actually cursed their families and offspring in hopes that I could frighten them with vengeance. Alas, they return to slime all over my beans with cocky self-assurance.

    Here’s what I do/have done:

    Beer traps but not light beer–the yeastier the better. My husband is always horrified when he sees me take a Granville Island Lager out for the slugs gullet and not his. The trick is a shallow dish (like a 1 cup sour cream container) dug in flush with the ground and about half full with beer. If it rains, you must replenish the beer: Not even slugs like watered-down beer.

    Egg shells–crushed egg shells surrounding the plants has had limited success. The trouble is you have to make the shells in a wide-enough circle to prevent the slugs from extending their body up and over the shells to get across. Yes, they do that. I’ve watched in horror/admiration as they contort themselves just for a taste of my young beans.

    Copper strips–available at the garden store. I got some in my easter basket but haven’t tried them.

    I like the crushing their skulls with a coconut shell and some good old fashioned revenge, too.

    Good luck!

  • 4 Jenny // May 31, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    I’m eatin’ up all this advice… my sunflowers are being destroyed!!! And my lettuce… my beans may be next – since they just emerged!

  • 5 Bill Harris // May 31, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    While I posted what I think is a useful and safe solution earlier, I must note that I gained a new appreciation for the creatures by reading Günter Grass’s Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke (From the Diary of a Snail) (http://facilitatedsystems.com/weblog/2005/05/doubt-scepticism-and-search-for.html). The little critters helped the protagonist maintain his sanity while in hiding in Poland in WWII, and they, believe it or not, became a metaphor for progress.

    I still think the garden is for people, not slugs, though. 🙂

  • 6 Julie // Jun 1, 2005 at 6:39 am

    Thanks for all the ideas!

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