Photo credit Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash
“Nibble, nibble little mouse, who nibbles at my little house?”
Or my little zucchini, summer squash and basil, as the case may be.
As soon as I had it in mind to share about the slugs (and aphids) the story of Hansel and Gretel came to mind. And that led me to want to quote the witch accurately, so I confess I’ve just been reading an original version of the tale. I say version because I wouldn’t get very far with the original original being as I do not read German.
More’s the pity.
Now I’m going to lean old fashioned in my writing. Beware.
What a different story than the super simplistic one I grew up with.
The mother angry because the children haven’t done their assigned tasks and she is consumed with worry for the survival of the family. She accidentally knocks a last pitcher of cream-covered milk to the floor. Banishes the children to the forest to at least find strawberries for supper. Angels and fairies protecting the children who get distracted, eat the berries and fall asleep in the woods.
And finally the witch comes on the scene.
Slugs have been making a careful feast of my otherwise plentiful squash. I see their trails. I see one deep gouge here, another there—ruining the fledgling fruit for human consumption.
And my basil is now holey. Not to be confused with holy basil, as in tulsi
"Holy basil has been shown to boost your body's health in a variety of ways. It can help protect against infection, lower your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol, ease joint pain, and protect your stomach."
but actually holey. Thanks a lot aphids and Japanese beetles, oh my.
If I become Mama Bear over threats to my children, what do I become over threats to my plants? Mama Scarecrow?
Gotta work on that. I am open to suggestions.
Meanwhile, here’s my plan: spray the basil with a light mixture of Castile soap and water to make the leaves unappetising to bugs and washable for humans. Boom.
And the more dastardly part: sprinkle eggshells around the squash to irritate the heck out of the slugs. Yes, that can work. But they have a thick slime coat which can withstand a lot. So in addition to the eggs, I will be spreading wool.
You read that right. Wool.
Photo credit Sam Carter on Unsplash
They get hung up on it. It sticks and stops them in their silvery slimy, ah, tracks. Delightful.
I know they’re just trying to survive. I know their Mama Bears will be as upset—if not more so—with me as I am with them. But. But.
If they would thoroughly eat a few squash and leave me the rest, great. They don’t. They’re like Hansel and Gretel skipping gaily about a nibble here, a nibble there until pretty soon the witch has to redo all of the siding, not just one section.
I confess I never thought of the trouble they caused to the witch.
Witches are so disrespected in stories. So maligned and misrepresented. All she wants is a quiet life in her cookie-and-candy-encrusted house.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
No, no, it’s not.
Here comes the villain in Scooby-Do: “Those pesky kids.”
Who the heck am I channeling today? All these random references making my head spin.
So wool to the rescue. I realise this remedy won’t work for everyone*. Unless one wants to order it online—and the urgency of Get Thee Gone Great Slug would indicate otherwise—I would stick with eggshells and a run to the store for organic slug repellent. Or a bottle of non-alcoholic beer.
The beer trick works, is nasty, and is not as effective or as long-lasting, apparently, as the wool. But it does work. So there’s that.
But I, unlike probably 99.9% of suburbia, have literally two bags full of wool in my garage and no beer, non-alcoholic or otherwise.
Cue “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. Yes, I have. And I’m not afraid to use them. The smell of lanolin is divine and my hands shall enjoy spreading it. And we shall be glad, so glad, to have found a use for it.
Oldest child accumulated it in their passion for all things fiber arts. They have a spinning wheel. They have a drop spindle. They have the equipment and the raw materials. And these particular raw materials have been sitting waiting to be washed and carded for at least a few years.
So. This. Is. Perfect.
A gift of the slugs to us in our efforts to clear away excess stuff.
I mean, what else am I going to do with garbage bags full of twig-filled sheep castings?
Gratitude as a state of being. Finding beauty and lessons and growth in every opportunity before me.
Thank you slugs. Thank you sheep. Thank you eldest child.
* If you want to meet me at my house I am happy to share some of my two bags full with you. There's plenty, oh yes.