Q. When the weather’s nice, my neighbor has a lot of cocktail parties in her backyard, and afterwards, I always see her pouring the dregs from beer bottles onto her flower beds. It seems too ridiculous to be true—is beer actually good for gardens? - Victoria, CA
A. Five for me, one for the plants. Five for me, one for the plants. Shvive r mee, un firva plagnts… gardening is FUN! While it would be nice if we could put our dregs to re-use as fertilizer, the beer-as-fertilizer claim is mostly myth, according to Plenty gardening expert Susan Brackney. But there’s another great way to make sure that last swig—which, let’s be honest, no one ever really wants—doesn’t go to waste. According to Organic Gardening Magazine, beer is a good slug repellent. That’s right. Just like so many college frat boys, slugs go nuts for the fermented yeast in beer. In a study conducted by Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist at Colorado State, Budweiser came in at third place for slug-attraction, which raises the question: just how much did they know when they made the three-frog BUD-WEIS-ER commercial?
In all seriousness, beer is such a tried and true slug trap that there are even commercially made beer slug traps, like this one, on the market. But don’t rush to the store, because there’s really no need to spend any money. You can just as easily bury a used yogurt container at ground level and fill it with a bit of beer, and trap the buggers that way. Or go even lower-maintenance: One Plenty editor says that when she was in her wild twenties, she made a habit of leaving near-empty beer bottles around her Menlo Park home to trap garden slugs. “They just climb right up and fall in,” she says. Just make sure to stay away from Corona bottles though, unless you want a really good view of the slugs' last gasp. Five for you, one for the slugs…
Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008.