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Stop slugs in their slime: the organic way!

According to the banking gurus out there, the recession is over! So why not celebrate by planting something a little up-market this month - mesclun aka 'the fancy lettuce'.

Wondering what fancy lettuce has to do with slugs and slime? Lettuce is the Holy Grail of slugs. Lettuce is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Lettuce is ... ok you get the picture - slugs love lettuce.

So getting mesclun to full maturity without being attacked by homeless snails is a difficult task for even the veteran gardener.

Nobody likes the idea of spraying their plants with insecticides. So this month, I'll give you some tips on how to plant mesclun lettuce, but most importantly how to keep the slugs at bay - organically.

First, let's plant some lettuce. Grab some of Awapuni Nurseries' Traditional Value mesclun lettuce seedlings when you're at your local supermarket, The Warehouse, or Bunnings store.

Mesclun must be positioned in a sunny area that is sheltered from strong winds. If it has been a wet winter where you are, add a bit of lime to your soil because lettuce thrives in soil with a moderate pH and large amounts of rain tend to lower your soil's acidity level.

Dig a hole 3cm deep and place the mesclun seedlings inside, roughly 1 foot apart from one another. Fill the remaining hole with soil.

Lettuce takes between six to eight weeks to grow so plant new seedlings every couple of weeks to ensure a continuous supply for summer.

Now for the exciting part! Forget about slug bait let me introduce...beer bait!

Simply, cut the top off an empty fizzy drink bottle, leaving approximately 10cm of plastic from the lid. Make sure the lid is tightly screwed on.

Make a hole next to your lettuces large enough for the whole bottle neck to fit into. The open end of your plastic bottle should sit almost parallel with the soil.

Place three sticks approximately 15cm in height around your plastic bottle in the shape of a teepee.

Fill your bottle up to the halfway mark with beer (slugs aren't fussy about the type of beer, but kids make sure you ask your parents first!).

To ensure that the beer is protected from rain, take the discarded end of your plastic fizzy drink bottle and cut off a section approximately 5cm from the end.

Balance this section on the three sticks you staked earlier. This will create a lid to protect the beer against rain.

Now all you have to do is sit back and wait. Overnight the slugs will slide their way into the beer. And don't just stop with one beer bait bottle, make several and place them around your slug susceptible veges. Believe me you'll be amazed by the results.

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