"Could it be slugs eating your lettuce?"

Both Christopher and Adriana wondered as much in the comments. I suppose it could be slugs. I recently obtained some diatomaceous earth from Territorial Seed in an attempt to halt slug destruction in other parts of my garden; I do have slugs.

Someone is eating my lettuces

But recall if you will that my lettuces are in this tower. The picture above shows the destruction in the midle pot. Does that seem like a slug-friendly attack spot to you? (Is there any such thing as a slug-unfriendly attack spot?) There was not so much destruction in the other pots.

Philadephus lewsii

What came immediately to my mind was the lettuce damage documented in this post on my previous blog waaay back in December, 2005. One morning I parted my bedroom curtains, and found this:

raccoon chewed

And this:

lettuce upclose

I attributed that episode to raccoons which we knew to be frequenting our roof at night. Someone at the Botanical Garden said, "Nah, it's birds. The birds ate your lettuces." I accepted the authority of Botanical Gardeners and have gone with birds ever since. But the thing that troubles me is, don't birds sleep at night? Sometimes in the summer we hear their mating calls all night long, so I guess not. Who knows.

Of course, I am not necessarily attributing the lettuce attack to the same hypothetical creature. But what to do? I was planning to get some bird netting, the sort you'd hang over berries or fruit trees to keep them from getting at your fruit harvest. Should I apply some diatomaceous earth* too? Will it harm the birds? That's the last thing I want to do.

It's easy to envision a bird perching the tower of lettuce pots and muching away.

*Chemists routinely handle a diatomaceous earth product named Celite. I keep wanting to type Celite instead of diatomaceous earth. You can imagine why.


Carla said...

ok, if slugs are not bad enough, midnight raids by BIRDS??? What's next-gnomes:)

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Oh .. the creature must be mighty hungry ... yeah, slugs I think. ... cheer up! ~ bangchik

ryan said...

It looks like birds to me. Could they be doing it very early in the morning? Some sort of improvised netting would stop them.

CiNdEe's GaRdEn said...

Well if its slug or snails you could try a couple things.
The D. Earth might work. There are some slug traps that look like mushrooms, kinda pricey though. And there is a copper tape stuff you put around the plants called Slug Off. I haven't tried it but they say it works. Some people place beer in saucers and it attracks slugs/snails supposedly.(-:

All This Trouble... said...

Diatomaceous earth has a much better ring to it. Celite = cellulite in my mind's ear.

Christopher C. NC said...

Slugs have no problems slithering up things. In Hawaii they would attack Snowbush and climb the woody stems four feet into the air. I say put out some shallow dishes of beer. You'll know in the morning if it is slugs.

Unknown said...

I am using copper with great success. I bought 1-2 yds of 1/2" dia. tubes, hammered them flat, bent them into circles and placed them inside a pot around a plant. For some reason they worked better than SLUGO. Lasts longer, too.

All This Trouble... said...

Oh yes! I meant to say earlier that I have a large metal planter on my partio table. It has drainage holes along the bottom sides. We've sat and watched the slugs climb out and along the table and back in. Many of them. It was disgusting.

They did not, however, play pinochle.

Jacque said...

I have seen mice eating lettuce and other greens in the garden at night, slugs are a possibilities but they usually are very easy to spot and find around the area. You will just have to do what we do and have a night time stake out and play detective!~ good luck Jacque

Anonymous said...

If it's bird or raccoons, try placing some tooth picks and bamboo skewers in the earth so it's hard for them to eat anything without a poke in the face/nose/beak. Since I did that, my cauliflower have been left alone. And my tomato seedlings are safe so far.

Anonymous said...

I think it's birds -- sparrows. They once destroyed some seedlings I had put on my fire escape! This time of year they just get a wild look in their eyes and start ripping up tender new foliage.

Stefaneener said...

That's what it looks like when my chickens have gotten out and run amok in the garden. Try the skewer idea; can't hurt.

Chloe Marguerite said...

It might be birds! I've seen crows walking down an entire row of seedlings, plucking off the nicest leaves. Sometimes they even uproot the whole plant and toss it aside, after they've had their way with it.

If it is slugs, you'll know by the disgusting slime trails.

Chloe M.

Anonymous said...

Agreed- Slugs and snails leave disgusting slime trails. Then there's earwigs and caterpillars and cutworms. Some of those guys hang out in the soil around the plant during the day and go around chewing at night. Not nice.

LeatherneckJoe said...

If you are using the diatomaceous earth around the plants, remember to make sure it is the food grade variety!

Adriana said...

Per The Germinatrix "Slugs and snails are the GROSSEST things ever! They have a huge appetite for decaying matter and soft green leaves, and they can destroy a bed of lettuce in no time flat."

Unknown said...

The same thing is happening to my lettuce. (mine looks just like yours in the pic) - the first thing that came to mind was slugs, but I've since ruled them out.

sc3v7nn said...

it is birds!!
I had the same thing in my garden, i was looking on the net and found your posts.
Just this morning I looked out my window to see 3 small sparrows munching away at my lettuce. I thought..I should get some dressing for them.. hahahha

Well needless to say my lettuce is gone now.
good luck