As I said in my last post, we have been experiencing an abnormally wet season. This has given me quite a few new issues to deal with in the past 3 weeks. Almost overnight, my tomato plants were attacked by slugs. I had thought at first that it must have been a fungus caused by both the wet spring and summer and the fact that I hadn’t had a chance to trim back the non-producing shoots causing a blockage in airflow around the plants and fruit.
However, a closer look revealed that many of the fruits had been attached from the bottom. Holes in the bottoms of the plants turned into a tunnel of nutrients for these little critters and I had to find a way to get rid of them – and fast. The vegetables that I grow during the summer months here in the Midwest are used for salads, spaghetti sauce, salsa and in cooking immediately, but more importantly I usually put up between 50 and 75 quarts of tomatoes and 25 pints of salsa. This will last the Fall, Winter, and maybe the following Spring for my family.
A family member told me that if I put out a saucer of beer near the base of the plants, I should be able to rid myself of these unwanted critters. I was skeptical, but decided to try it anyway. Realizing that snails are nocturnal, I put the beer out shortly before sundown. Two days later, I returned to the garden and found that indeed, she was right. There were 3 or 4 slugs floating in each of the dishes.
I have now had a chance to trim off all of the dead and diseased stems and to tie up the remaining fruit. I will continue to put out dishes of beer just to keep the slugs at bay.
At the end of the growing season, I will need to do a controlled burn of the vegetable garden in order to make sure that the diseased stems do not winter over to next Spring’s planting season. One of the facets of gardening that I really love is that each year brings a different set of issues and a chance to research and learn more about how nature feeds and nurtures both our bodies and our minds.