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WHAT’S BLOOMIN’

Gardening advice: Lure slugs away from plants with beer

Or sprinkle iron phosphate pellets after rainfall.

Friday, June 14, 2013 - 12:01 am

Q.: I set several plants of eggplant in my vegetable garden, and one of them is being eaten by pests of some kind. The leaves all over the plant have holes in them. I don't understand why just one of the plants is having a problem as the rest do not appear to be bothered. Any thoughts would be appreciated?

A.: It sounds like slugs are chewing on your eggplant leaves. Why only one plant is a victim does seem a bit odd, but keep an eye on the rest because, if it is slugs, you will see holes appearing in the leaves of the other plants.

Rather than wait to find out exactly what is devouring your plant, let's assume it is slugs and begin taking steps to kill these slimy garden pests.

I always look for environmentally safe products that will eliminate pests rather than going for the chemicals, so here are a few suggestions, one of which might just be what you would like to try:

•Slugs go after moist areas and work at night, so avoid watering the garden in late evening. By watering in early morning, the soil will have time to dry out.

•Dig a hole and set a half can of beer in the hole. Slugs will go after that, fall in and drown.

•Make a solution of yeast with a bit of sugar and water. Put that concoction in a can and embed it in the soil. This mixture is going to contain ingredients of similar to beer, so keeping a few cans of beer around is the easiest solution. (If you have dogs, they could be drawn to the beer — so keep that in mind. Also, anything with sugar in it can draw ants.)

•Icky, slimy dead slugs can become very smelly — so be sure to dispose of the contents of the can each day and refill with fresh beer or the mixture before nightfall.

Iron phosphates are one of the safest methods for killing slugs in your garden. The chemical is safe for humans and pets and comes in a pellet form.

Sprinkle the pellets around the garden, and it'll be slug-free. You will find iron phosphate products at most garden centers. You will need to re-sprinkle this product after a heavy rainfall.

Q.: My dog's urine is killing the grass in spots. What can I do about this problem?

A.: “Urine is naturally high in nitrogen and alone can cause grass burns. However, lawn fertilizer also contains nitrogen. An excess of either or a combination of urine and fertilizer may result in an overdose of nitrogen, thus 'burning' the grass. Salts and other compounds in dog urine may also contribute to grass burn. In addition, highly acidic or alkaline urine may alter pH of the soil in that area of your yard, adversely affecting the grass there.” (This quotation is from dogs.about.com).

Solutions: You can immediately go out after your dog urinates and flood the spot with water, diluting the nitrogen and acids, or you can purchase several products that claim to heal the yellow/brown spots.

Two products that are being offered for this problem are PetiGreen and Grass Revitalize. I couldn't find either in stores in our area, but you can purchase PetiGreen online at Humicgreen.com and Grass Revitalize for dog urine through Amazon.com or direct from Remove Urine Ltd.

Both products received good reviews.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@fron tier.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.