The garden has made me a murderer.
The slugs are on my basil and my eggplant already, teeny tiny baby ones chewing dozens of little holes in each leaf.
I like slugs. Snails too. Their slow, seemingly magical movement fascinates me. And around here, they're often small enough to fall into cute territory, at least for me. So I'm not super excited about killing them. But I know what happens when I let my ambivalence take over - plants so obliterated that they don't even have enough green left to soak up the sun.
I tried the humane method last year, going out each night and picking off each slug and moving them to another part of the yard. The next night, along with dozens of new holes, there would be dozens of new slugs. Or the same ones, back again?
I finally realized that either we were going to get the basil (and the kale and the sugar snap peas) or the snails were. There were so many of them that there just weren't enough green leaves to go around. So I put out little containers of beer, finding a sad few drowned in the morning. But there were still more. Still holes. So I tried cornmeal, which they shunned.
At this point, my basil plants were hardly plants anymore. More like stems with fragile green lace hanging off them. I headed to the garden store and begged for help, which is how I came home with Slugg. I sprinkled it on the ground around the plants, and it did the dirty work while I slept.
As long as I reapplied every week or so, the snails were gone.
Of course, gone is a bit of a euphemism. They were dead. I sent a contract killer to do my bidding, too cowardly (or worse, too busy) to do my own murdering.
I sprinkled this year's first batch this week after picking off five or six slugs no bigger than grains of rice. Around the basil and the eggplants and the sugar snap peas. If I keep it up, I won't even know they were ever there. Perhaps they'll stop coming at all, signaling somehow to each other that it's a dangerous place.
I hope so, at least - that there aren't dozens of them sliding to the slaughter each night.
I'll think of them as I pluck off that first sweet sugar snap pea, the fruits of my labor. And my ruthlessness.