Killer slugs and eco-friendly dog houses and birdhouses

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It’s one of those in between times in my garden – lots of green tomatoes, but none ripening; annuals, hydrangeas, and roses flowering away; and lots of weeds popping up between the antique bricks on the back patio. Today’s post will follow the same pattern – garden news that's short but too good to miss.

First, of course, are the killer slugs in Wales, which sound as though they ought to star in a bad horror movie: “Attack of the Sightless Killer Slugs.”

It’s not so funny, though, if you live in Wales (a wonderful country to visit; I highly recommend it). What’s being called a ghost slug – it’s white and has no eyes -- has been discovered; it’s a new species. And it’s carnivorous; it eats earthworms with bladelike teeth. Then, say the reports, they suck up the worms "like spaghetti."

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What a revolting development. As if regular slugs aren’t bad enough. The only bright spot -- if it could be called that -- is that scientists are speculating that this new slug may eat other slugs. But that wouldn't make up for the losss of earthworms.

Much better news is a Fresh Start garden in Walnut Creek, Calif., that’s tended by those who are homeless.  “For people whose lives are often a struggle, the garden provides an outlet for creativity, and a way to participate in the community and show appreciation for the services they receive,” says the Contra Costa Times. One current plan to is grow herbs in the garden to sell at the local farmers’ market.

You’ve read all about the environmental benefits of green roofs. But did you know that you could build one for your dog? Even easier, install a green roof for your feathered friends -- on top of birdhouses and feeders. The July issue of The Avant Gardener says it’s easy: Edge slanting birdhouse roofs with a wooden lip that contains drainage holes. Then spread a quick-draining potting soil over the surface and plant – maybe with succulents or with alpines, depending on your climate, of course.

In this day of all digital all the time, a print newsletter that doesn’t have any photos and is delivered by US mail may seem a bit quaint.

But Thomas Powell packs a ton of interesting material in his monthly issues of The Avant Gardener (subtitled The Unique Horticultural News Service). Some are devoted to an in-depth look at a particular subject. Others contain information on a wide variety of topics (often culled from the 400 publications he reads each month).

Even if you keep up with the latest in the field, there are always many things you haven’t heard before. July’s issue includes terrestrial orchids, ornamental sorghums, two little-known maples, hybrid ground cherries, a great new daphne, and “composting made simpler.”

For more information, write The Avant Gardener, P.O. Box 489, New York, NY 10028.

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