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Hair of the Dog Can Deter Evil Squirrels...But What About Slimy Slugs?

Q.Maxine (who prefers to be called 'Max') in Cornwall England writes: "Would pet hair work as well as human hair to destroy slugs?"

A. Ha! I've been to the U.K.--starting out in London, then on to Salisbury (home of the world's oldest clock) then to nearby Stonehenge at dawn (of course), then to Coventry (completely rebuilt after World War 2; their village square features a fascinating bell tower clock with Lady Godiva making a circular appearance on the hour while all of the animated life-size villagers turn their heads; until she hits the halfway mark, when Peeping Tom pops out of a hidden door at the top. And the stunningly beautiful cathedral, almost completely destroyed during the war, the new one built next to the original with a special glass surface that reflects the ruins of the original.)

In Nottingham I visited Robin Hood's grave (whose statuary was frequently robbed of its golden arrow) and The Sheriff of Nottingham's Castle, which was perched on a high cliff and whose insides had been turned into a museum that rivaled the 'official' British Museum in London (an entire room devoted to glass Victorian walking sticks?!) As I left, I noticed that there was an opening in the base of the cliff with a little wooden sign that said "Ye Old Jerusalem Inn; established..." well, the sign that I saw back in the seventies said something like '928 AD'. But Wiki now places it both older and younger depending on whether its original time as a brewery counts.

I walk into this cleft in the cliff and was met by immediate darkness. "Giant spiders" I thought to myself, "laboriously made the sign and are lurking a few feet ahead". But after my eyes adjusted, I thought I could see a dim light ahead, then as I walked through the terrifying corridor with walls of chalk so soft you could grab a handful, I entered a beautiful, polished wood and brass pub. "What can I get for you Guvnor?" "Is there a Working Man's Pub in the back", I asked. "Well said sir; just walk this way until you get to the slate floor. (Always go to the back of a pub, where the prices are lower and the gaiety higher.)

{Other voice; off camera}: "McGrath!!"

What? I haven't answered the question yet? Give me a minute?

OK, silence means yes.

So I go to the back, and there's a guy sitting at the far end of the bar. The Landlord comes in and I say, "I'll have a pint of the local" (I had been in the UK for several months at this point and knew how to order). As the Landlord pulls my pint, the guy at the end of the bar says: "Of all the gin joints in all the world I have to run into Mike McGrath". It was Steve O'Rourke, road manager for Pink Floyd, a band I had stumbled into interviewing circa 1970.

{OTHER VOICE}: "McGrath--Get back to the topic!"

What? I can't talk about Wales or Leeds or...?

{OTHER VOICE}: "McGrath!"

Ahem. The original idea of using dog hair was to deter Evil Squirrels. It came from bulb growers in Holland, where I visited in...

{OTHER VOICE}: "McGrath!"

OK, OK! Sheesh!

No creature bothers daffodils, whose bulbs are toxic to ingest, but tulip bulbs are delicious and nutritious. In fact, we lost many varieties when Netherlanders were forced to delve into stored bulbs when they were isolated and occupied during World War 2. Evil Squirrels LOVE digging up and devouring tulip bulbs. But the Dutch observed (duh!) that dogs hate Evil Squirrels and Evil Squirrels hate dogs.

So they collected dog hair from groomers and used it to literally 'mulch' freshly planted tulip beds in the Fall. Those beds were untouched, while nearby no-dog-hair beds were severely molested. Anybody can find dog hair. If you don't have a personal Bowser, ask a friend with a (preferably long-haired) dog for their brushings, or ask a local groomer to save you a bag or seven.

Ah, but we are (allegedly) talking about slug control, and from my trip to the UK long before I became a gardener, I knew (from EVERY Bed & Breakfast operator [NEVER ring their bell while EastEnders is on]) that slugs were their number one menace. The cool damp climate made living easy for slugs, and they repaid gardeners by eating everything they had to the ground overnight. The {quote} 'slug baits' available at the time were impossibly toxic and there wasn't enough beer in all of Merry Olde England to drown them all (which is saying quite a bit).

Mulching with HUMAN hair began as a 'garden tip' to slowly feed the soil as the Nitrogen-rich hair decomposed, but it was soon observed that slugs got tangled up in the hair, could not remove it and croaked, leading many gardeners to rush to the local barber shop for their sweepings. Hair is hair, so dog hair, cat hair, and human hair will all tie up slugs. Try to avoid heavily treated human hair for edibles, but it will still work well to silence slugs on bulb beds.

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