Ask a Question forum: bush beans

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DarrenP
Jul 18, 2013 9:21 PM CST
hi there, my name is darren and i am growing my first ever garden this year. while tending it today i noticed that the leaves of my bush beans are being chewed away by some kind of critters who hide by day but who i think are slugs or snails by the slimy trails they leave. because i've just had to completely scrap a mystery plant that volunteered itself in my garden due to aphids, i was wondering, should i do something about this? is it just a little harmless munching that i can afford to allow or is there some kind of non-toxic way i should be ushering the insects along to a different part of the yard? (i've got lots of weedy areas where i'm not growing which i'd be glad to share.) i stumbled upon your very helpful planting guide just now and would be very glad of your opinion on my beans since they were born of seeds saved from mom's garden and i love them so very much. thanking you kindly, dThumb of 2013-07-19/visitor/5871ba
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Jul 19, 2013 5:24 AM CST
Looks like slugs at work there. You can ignore them since it won't really hurt the bush beans or, you can put some beer in a bowl and leave in the garden. Slugs are attracted to the beer and will drown.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jul 19, 2013 4:06 PM CST
I cut the bottoms off soda bottles in order to have lots of small, inconspicuous saucers. But the smell of beer will also attract slugs from many feet away!

Slugs are NOT beer connoisseurs - they like cheap and stale beer better than good fresh beer. Or make your own "slug beer":
- - 2 cups warm water,
- - 1 pkg. dry yeast,
- - 1 teaspoon sugar, (or more)
- - 1 teaspoon salt , (or less)


You can also scatter the "iron phosphate" kind of slug bait, "Sluggo" or Sluggo Plus.
You don't need to scatter more than 5-6 grains per square foot. They are attracted to the bait and will find it. But you might want to make a complete circle around your bed, a foot or more wide. They eat it and then die or get sick later, but will eat some leaves in the meanwwhile. Allegedly, they learn to avoid areas where eating makes them get sick, so in the long run it might be more of a deterrent than a slug-eliminator.

The iron phosphate variety only contains iron and phosphate (fertilizers) plus EDTA. EDTA is a manufactured chemical, but so non-toxic that it's used as a human food additive (iron supplement) and as a medicine (protects against heavy metal poisoning).

You might want to avoid the more toxic, more effective "metaldehyde" variety of slug bait. Metaldehyde can be toxic to small pets - seriously harmful or even lethal if they get into the box and eat a handful. A little of this stuff kills slugs promptly, so that you see their slime trails get twisted and then terminate in a dead slug.

Name: Arlene
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abhege
Jul 19, 2013 5:06 PM CST
What about Mexican bean beetle? Did you see any small yellow things on the underside of the leaves? They will play havoc and eat so much foliage the beans will suffer and then they will start to eat the beans too leaving ugly spots all over.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jul 20, 2013 9:43 PM CST
I just looked up Mexican Bean Beatle. Seems as thought the damaged leaves would look quite different from the damage on Darren's bean leaves.

I have used the pet safe version of Slugo with great results this year. No damage to hostas, beans, or any other plants.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Jul 20, 2013 10:28 PM CST
Besides welcoming you to this site, Darren, I want to thank you for not automatically assuming you have to kill a bug just because it does some damage. I tip my hat to you.
It is a wise man that considers all options before he acts.

There are several beetles that eat bean foliage, but to my knowledge none eat in a pattern like this, which is typical for slugs and snails. In this case, however, I think I would put out some of the iron phosphate pellets mentioned above. The one I've used is just called "Slug and Snail Bait" by Schultz., and I'm there are more companies that make it, too.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Jul 21, 2013 10:13 AM CST
Welcome to ATP, DarrenP!

Yep, definitely not the damage of any of the bean beetles. And with your mention of "slime" combined with the photo I agree, slugs for sure.

If you want to save some money you can have great fun going out with a flash light at night and "harvest" the slugs. Just pick 'em off and dump them in a can for disposal somewhere else. (My preference was to toss them to my ducks! 'Tis a great site, and sound, to see them do their best to slurp down those slugs.."mack mack mack mack slurp!"

If your garden isn't too large you could also go lay down some boards or something else in the rows. The slugs will take cover there before daylight arrives to sleep for a while after enjoying your bean foliage. Just lift up the boards and snatch them up and do what you like with them.

Wishing you a good garden and an even better bean harvest, especially since you mentioned those beans were inherited from your mother's garden.

Shoe

DarrenP
Jul 24, 2013 8:48 PM CST
Hey Gang,

Thanks for all the great advice and the warm welcome to the site, I never expected such swift and comprehensive responses. After considering all your ideas on the subject I concluded that I can let a little munching go (it's definitely not the mexican bean beetle) since it's in no way an epidemic slug party, and they seem to be growing fine. (Generally I prefer non-lethal responses to the critters in my garden for a great many reasons and I really like the idea of relocating the slugs if their population grows out of control.)

Much love to y'all,
D
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 25, 2013 12:58 PM CST
Welcome! Welcome to ATP Darren.

If it was my garden I would buy some Sluggo which is a safe natural product that kills slugs. I use it all the time. I think it looks like slug dammage.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jul 25, 2013 1:24 PM CST
Where I live, some years have ten times as many slugs as other years. When they are "in season", they can eat almost anything right down to the ground.

Other years, they merely kill every Delphinium seedling I put on the deck.

You might accept the damage most years, and then if things get bad, use a trap crop and try to draw them away from certain beds using beer saucers elsewhere ...

... or consider non-toxic ways reducing their numbers if things get TOO bad. I think that's the core of "Integrated Pest Management" - escalate your response only enough to make the damage bearable.

There is no way to "kill them all off", because they migrate freely from neighbors' yards.

You might consider a higher level of protection for young seedlings, especially if you're hardening them off when there is not much else for slugs to eat. I lost 100% of several trays of Delphiniums until I realized that it was not ME that was killing them. Like, putting them up on a table and covering the table legs with a ring of copper tape.

Thumb of 2013-07-25/RickCorey/5182da
Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Jul 26, 2013 3:11 PM CST
Welcome, Darren. I tend to shy away from any sort of packaged product and don't always trust the labeling. Here's an interesting article I found when researching Sluggo as I was fighting slugs on my ligularia:

http://www.hostalibrary.org/firstlook/RRIronPhosphate.htm

It raised enough questions in my mind to bypass Sluggo. There are some battles worth fighting, others not. I live in a slug-infested area, they turn my ligularia into lace. I'm ditching the ligularia, as it is primarily a foliage plant for me (not that crazy about the blooms). I think your beans will have some slug damage but will produce plenty of beans for your table if you do nothing. But, that's your call.

I've had good success with beer traps, less success with copper. Best success seems to be plucking the slimy critters directly from the garden, disgusting as that is. Good luck.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 26, 2013 3:14 PM CST
If I didn't put out Sluggo when I plant veggie seedlings like beans, peppers and cucumbers by the next morning there is no plant left. The slugs are so bad. But I do agree, some leaf damage is no big deal, the plant will just keep on growing.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jul 26, 2013 3:16 PM CST
Another tactic I now remember is I would often surround new seedlings with a fairly thick layer of sand (also for emerging dahlias). The slugs don't like the feel of the sand - some will work their way over it, but less of them, giving the seedlings a chance to put on some girth.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jul 27, 2013 10:04 AM CST
Deb that is a great idea. I will give it a try for some of my plants.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 1, 2013 6:00 PM CST
I wonder if bird grit would work better than sand? You know, the gravel they sell for birds, like parakeets?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Aug 1, 2013 6:05 PM CST
i think it was some other forum where someone suggested keeping a spray bottle with 10% household ammonia and 90% water.

Squirt any slug or egg mass you see, and even flood some areas where they might hide.

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