Every gardener has a story about keeping slugs off plants. Some gardeners swear by laying a strip of copper around your plants, as something about the metal and the (excuse the phrase) slug juice interacts in a way that the slugs hate. Other gardeners set up a slug night club, complete with beer and loud music. Okay. Maybe there’s no loud music. And maybe it’s more like a saucer of beer and not an actual nightclub. In any case, the theory goes that slugs love beer, so they climb into the saucer and drown. Seems like a waste of good beer, if you ask me.
But there are other ways of keeping slugs off plants, one of which is pouring salt on them. That’s what Marilyn Gilpin did. She shared her story in Take That, Nasty Slugs! It all began when she found a slug chewing on her marigolds, impatiens, and petunias. Like any gardener protective of their annuals, Marilyn grabbed the table salt and soon the slug was no more.
The story doesn’t end there, though. Now, I don’t know if an army of slugs decided they were going to take revenge or it just so happened that hundreds of slugs showed up one morning on her back porch. In any case, Marilyn had to do something, so she “bought a super-sized canister of table salt.” What happened next was unexpected.
Learn About Keeping Slugs Off Plants, Rabbits Out of the Garden, and More Valuable Advice Through The Mistakes of Other Gardners and Their Stories.
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories of gardening mishaps and mistakes into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!
‘Take That, Nasty Slugs!’
By Marilyn Gilpin
My first real attempt at gardening occurred when I moved into the bottom flat of a small two-story house with a weedy, patchy, postage-stamp-sized front lawn.
I started with planting annuals by the front door and near the sidewalk. The marigolds, impatiens, and petunias brightened up the otherwise plain house. Maybe I really could be a gardener.
One day I noticed that a slimy, snail-like creature eating my flowers. A neighbor told me they were slugs—an apt name—and that pouring salt on them would kill them. I followed this advice, and it worked.
A few days later, I opened the door from the kitchen to my enclosed back porch. To my horror, hundreds of slugs swarmed the porch floor. I couldn’t even step out.
Well, I knew how to kill them. I bought a super-sized canister of table salt and sprinkled it all over. Take that, you nasty slugs!
An hour later, I opened the door to the porch to check on the slugs.
They were all dead. And all stuck to my floor. ❖
By Marilyn Gilpin, published originally in 2023, in GreenPrints Issue #134. Illustrated by Marilynne Roach
What kind of embarrassing garden mistakes have you made? Any particularly funny ones you’d like to share in the comments?