Thursday, 2 May 2019

Me and "El Chapo"

Betcha you didn't know that I knew "El Chapo".
I had no idea of his presence at first but then it became clear to me that he was definitely here.
Here in my garden....hanging out in my garden like nobody's business.

Many weeks ago I received some flavour peppers from my friend Marcelle.  She was so generous as she gifted me a few bags of the lovely peppers.
I made delicious meals with them everyday and I also bottled some in oil and vinegar and stored in the fridge.
I also decided to try planting a few seeds...which I did.
They sprang up in about two days and before I knew it I had many baby seedlings growing beautifully.

I admired these darlings as they grew bigger and stronger every day.
Leaves growing bigger and greener and reaching for the sun. I transplanted them to the veggie garden where they took off like bullets.
A couple of days later I noticed that the leaves were being nibbled.......NO......actually the leaves were being MUNCHED into big chomps..
The leaves were being eaten during the night.  I searched and searched for the culprits but nothing.  No trails, no telltale marks...nothing.

My gardening buddies told me to check for slugs, snails, green chubby worms, black fuzzy caterpillars and a whole host of other critters.
I sprinkled a few slug pellets and some epsom salts at the base of the plants in my effort to catch the culprits.
I continued to search. Many nights I found myself outside with a torch just trying to find the bastards.
My beautiful pepper trees were suffering terribly.  I sprayed them with a mixture of peppermint oil and diluted  dish washing liquid but to no avail.
Every day I would trim the remaining leaves with  a straight cut from my scissors so I could monitor the damage and every morning the munches would be there again.
I couldn't figure it out at all....absolutely nothing....I was at a complete loss.....I was a sleuth with no clues at all....just plain evidence.
 I was almost on the verge of giving up completely.

One morning, I happened to be outside at the break of dawn when something caught my eye.  It wasn't much but it looked out of place in the dim light.  It looked like a stone. Crouching down I saw what looked like a small grey rock on the top of the soil near to the brickwork.
I rushed inside for my torch but it wasn't needed...the morning light was squashing the night away fast.
Lo and behold what did I see but the tail end of a fat slug....a BIGG fat slug.
It was quickly disappearing down its hidden underground tunnel faster than Speedy Gonsalez.
I had to act fast...I pierced the remaining end part of the slug with my garden knife (which I had thankfully forgotten in the veggie bed) and tried pulling it back up to the surface.
Shoulda been easy right?  No way!!....the tip of my knife was being pulled into the soil by the slug.
What the hell was going on?
Let me say that again....the knife which had thoroughly pierced the slug was being pulled forcibly out of my hand as the slug headed underground.
I kid you not...the next thing I knew I was tugging the knife back and the slug was pulling it back.
There I was playing tug of war with a slug.

Then it occurred to me....this was no ordinary slug...this was "El Chapo" the slug.
The slug of the underground network...the slug that knew how to hide out underground....I knew I had to fight back and fight back fast if not he would escape.
I dared not remove the knife to pierce it again for I feared he would disappear into thin air.
Then I looked to see where he was making his getaway path...there was a tunnel in the soil going straight down into the earth......a really sweet hideout....I would have never seen it. It seemed he would crawl out and then cover the hole back as he went about his business (of eating my pepper plants).
Crawling back to his underground tunnel just before dawn after a night of eating and belching and pooping I imagine.

It was time for action...big decision to make.
Swiftly I removed the knife and pierced that bugger again and YANKED hard pulling my hand back in a tactical arc with a loud shout...... HEYYYYYA!!!!
There it was dangling on the end of the knife.
I placed it defiantly into my bucket of weeds headed for the compost. For good measure I doused it with a hand full of salt and a few slug pellets thinking that would take care of him once and for all.
About half an hour later I passed by the bucket and noticed that that "criminal" was not where I had put him.
To my horror there he was sliming his way out of the bucket almost making a clean getaway.
What de heck!!!
I reached for the salt again and after "skinning" (turning) it over on its back I made sure I salted him liberally and then like Rachael Ray threw some over my shoulder for good luck and then I shouted "BAM!" just like Emeril Lagasse in total glee after preparing a lemony escargot special on his menu.
Fifteen minutes later it had curled into the death curl...darn it was about time.

How much time had I spent trying to kill that bugger....boy was he a fighter.
FINALLY it was all over.
So long ....Goodbye...Sayonara El Chapo!!
I will have to keep my eyes open for others like him but so far my peppers are going strong.
They have to recuperate and start producing fruit...I can't wait.

I did a little research and here is what I found out.
The slug was a pancake slug...(Veronicella sloanii)....very good at camouflage...that's why I could never see it hiding in plain sight.

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