I was on another website associated with Geoff Lawton just snooping and one expert was an
advocate of eliminating mulch to reduce the likelihood of sow bugs/rolly pollys devouring young
seedlings. Lawton responded immediately that he had put in systems in some 30 countries and
had never had a problem of that type with mulched gardens. He said something about "balances"
needed to be maintained. I have and will continue to have, a duck deficiency.
Planted seeds often germinate and disappear before they get any size to them. If something volunteers
it seems to be immune to attack. So I am now in the business of growing seedlings to larger size
than I want to do. It is more effort than I plan to sustain long term. Once the seedlings are large
enough I can move them into the garden. I am not enthused about growing all my seedlings out
I want my garden to be the place I garden.
Some of the damage is slug damage no doubt. The expert on the website said he had gone out
with a flash light and found out who the culprit was. I haven't done that yet but it is both I can
assure you. I have drowned slugs in beer but suspect when I put the beer out every slug in the
county starts heading to my garden.
I don't have any problems with rolly pollies (lol, that reminds me of my preschool teacher days- my students LOVED catching rolly pollies on the playground!) but I have had success controling slugs with crushed egg shells sprinkled around the plants. Hope you get some help with the others. So far as mulch goes, I'm still in the process of transitioning my veg. garden from low/no till raised beds to permaculture, so most of my stuff gets planted into soil with a lot of compost, but doesn't get any mulch until it gets bigger mostly because I'm afraid I'll accidentally shade out or damage the seedlings while mulching.
I have insane numbers of rolly pollys and sowbugs, though I have only noticed them become a problem when there wasn't enough moist mulch material for them to eat. If it became too dry, they would attack the plants. They will attack plants which are damaged or not in good health, but seem to avoid healthy plants. I see them as indicators telling me conditions aren't right in the garden. This is the way I view all "pests."
My garden helpers:
So my suggestion is to try to provide them with soft green mulch as often as possible, such as grass clippings or prunings from other parts of the garden, and to try to improve your soil for optimum plant health.
hey Alex, care to tell us where you're at? I don't mean to get nosy, but location makes a huge difference in cases like this.
I use a lot of mulch: wood chips, strawchicken and goat litter, leaves. I've never had an issue with sow bugs. since you are having a problem, I'm wondering if it's a regional issue. there are plenty of sow bugs around here, but they don't bother our seedlings at all.
as far as solutions, I would look into what their predators are. ducks certainly aren't the only thing that eats garden pests. think frogs, snakes, larger bugs, et cetera. you don't have to keep these things like livestock, you just need to make appropriate habitat available to them, and chances are good that they'll move in to reap the sow bug bounty. this is far from an immediate solution, but it can be very effective in the long run.
Speaking of which a gardening expert here said not long ago on his radio program that he had always
ignored rolly pollies like Tyler says he does. He had always told people to do likewise but he had noticed
recently that they were doing damage to young plants.
I think my garden has a frog shortage. I have lizards and garter snakes and all types of birds but I don't
notice any frogs. The next toad I see is getting relocated.
We've got loads of toads, frogs, snakes (I stepped on one's tail the other day), lizards in the garden. Not sure if they're making a dent in the sowbug population but it's nice to have them anyway....
posted 7 years ago
Tyler based on that picture you posted frogs are not my solution. Man do you have some sow bugs!
Maybe I am better off than I think I am. As I say, if something volunteers it is generally left alone and that is
where I trying to get with some things just letting it happen. At this point though I have 1 tomatovolunteer in the
whole garden and it came up in a bed where it was not planted last year. I only had one tomato variety that was
a potato leaf and this one is a potato leaf. So I know what it is. This year I have 15 heirloom tomato varieties
I have tediously started from seed and they are going gang busters.
I bordered my bed that will grow beans with a row of swiss chard and it came up just fine. I used to be able
to start marigolds by sprinkling a few seeds where I wanted them but not around here. So it seems to depend
on what I am trying to grow and which bed.
My soil is the same bright red clay that George Lee is digging in on his thread. I am couple of years ahead of
where he is on this project and have put in hugelculture beds and mixed the clay with sand and compost and
manure. My methods have been a bit inconsistent from bed to bed and frankly I am hoping over time the earth
worms will make it all better. I am leaving crop residues in the beds and roots in the soil to rot and am keeping
it mulched in. There was a giant jump in plant health as soon as I covered the soil. The clay content helps hold
moisture but if left exposed it is the stuff they make fine bricks out of.