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More rain means more slugs, here's how to deal with them in the garden

Written by Doug Oster on .

slimy slugs 6vert 0605bSlugs look like snails without the shell. They feed at night, but can easily be controlled. Photo by Doug OsterGardeners are always in tune with the weather. There's nothing better than sowing seeds or adding plants to the garden right before it rains. The sound of a summer rain storm puts a smile on our collective faces. No amount of watering can compare to a good rain.

Warm temperatures and plenty of rain is the perfect storm though for slugs. My garden is heavily mulched, this keeps the soil evenly moist which is great for the plants, but also the best place for slugs to hide during the day.

It's easy to recognize their damage: Look for the silvery, slimy trail they leave behind. Slugs feed at night and love hostas, marigolds and any small transplants.

They are easily controlled with baits, but the chemical version uses metaldehyde, which also attracts mammals and other animals. If a dog or cat eats the bait they could be poisoned.

There are organic baits made of iron phosphate which are safe for mammals and the environment, but still dispatch the slugs.

Probably the most popular are Sluggo and Escar-Go. The first is available locally at any garden center and the second through Gardens Alive online.

There are other ways to control slugs too without reaching for chemicals.

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that's razor sharp on the microscopic level. When a slug crawls over the DE, it's cut to shreds and eventually dies. Wear a mask when applying DE, it can cause irritation to airways.

Slugs don't like to crawl on rough surfaces like eggshells or sand.

They also won't cross copper. The metal has a naturally occurring electrical charge. Some gardeners will use copper wire as a barrier.

Hostas work as a great trap crop, it's their favorite food. They would prefer hostas to anything.

How about handpicking? I used crawl down a cement block hole that housed our well to collect slugs for bait. We would fish off the bottom for big carp. Handpicking at night works, just wear gloves. Slugs emit a disgusting slime that's hard to remove.

A pinch of salt will kill them too.

Slugs love the cool temperatures that my thick layer of straw provides them in the garden. But the benefits of the mulch outweighs the downside of the slug damage.

Of course, they can be trapped in a container placed a ground level filled with stale beer. It's disgusting to clean that trap out every other day though.

Slugs will slow down when the temperatures cool off and the soil dries out, but for now any one of the techniques above will help you deal with them.

The pests are favorites of toads and snakes, encourage both to hang around in the garden by giving them a place to hide. An overturned, broken flower pot is a great toad house and leaving part of the garden wild will give the snakes some habitat too.

Enjoy the sound of soft rain and encourage nature to take care of the slugs too.

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PHOTOS: Sabika fall/winter jewelry collection preview

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

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Robinson-headquartered direct sales jewelry company Sabika is gearing up for fall/winter with a collection of bracelets, earrings and necklaces highlighted by one-of-a-kind Swarovski crystal colors, intricate pendants and a unique variety of necklace chains.

Pieces are sold through in-home trunk shows. Learn more about the upcoming collection in today's Post-Gazette Stylebook column and see more photos of the new accessories below. Information: www.sabika-jewelry.com. (Photos by Sara Bauknecht/Post-Gazette)

Which pieces are your favorites? Share your thoughts in the comment thread below.

RELATED MEDIA: LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SABIKA JEWELRY

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"Setting the Seen": Gallery Crawls & Cosmopolitan Party

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

This week, style editor Sara Bauknecht and I chat about all the excitement happening this weekend including the downtown gallery crawl, vintage grand prix, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's 2014 Cosmopolitan Party! #treschic

Follow us on Twitter @NBSeen and @SaraB_PG

Follow us on Instagram @NatalieBenci and SaraB_PG

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This weekend in Pittsburgh style+society: Downtown bustling with gallery crawl, after party

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Downtown will be the place to be to kick off the weekend with the latest Pittsburgh Cultural Trust gallery crawl tonight in the Cultural District. When the festivities taper off, the fun will continue at the Cosmopolitan Pittsburgh party at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

SEEN editor Natalie Bencivenga and I have the scoop on what to expect at both functions in this week's episode of "Setting the SEEN." See it all in the video below, and check back next Friday to find out what we'll be exploring a week from now.

So until next time -- we'll be seeing you.

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Free 'Heart of Italy' tomato plants with Doug on Saturday

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog heart of italyb'Heart of Italy' has become one of my favorite tomatoes. I'm giving the plants away this Saturday. Photo by Doug Oster

Discovering an amazing tomato after nearly 30 years of gardening is simply wonderful.

'Heart of Italy' was introduced to me a couple season ago when my daughter stumbled on to the variety at Hahn Nursery. "Mom will love this one," she said, and she was right. I fact everyone in the family loves this tomato.

It's an oxheart variety which is pink, thin skinned, meaty and filled with old fashioned flavor.

Hahn has donated a flat and a half for me to give away this Saturday at the Mercer Bicentennial Celebration. They will produce fruit by the end of the season if planted soon.

I'll be on the town square in Mercer on Saturday July 12, 2014 from 12 noon until 2 p.m. as part of the festivities.

I'll be answering garden questions, talking gardening, giving things away and signing books too.

I spent a lot of time in Mercer when I worked for the Youngstown Vindicator, I'm looking forward to seeing all my old friends.

The day is packed with great festivities.

On Saturday enjoy historical tours, artisans, quilt show, Civil War encampment, food, farmers’ market.

Also on Saturday, take your family to the Old-Fashioned Day in Brandy Springs Park, south of Mercer. From  from noon until the Fireworks at 9:30pm.

There will be balloon animals, pizza and ice cream eating contests, car cruise-in at 4pm, entertainment, crafts, food, games and more.

There's more information here.

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