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Horrors of sheet mulching  RSS feed

 
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Lol Casie you were not even close to alone there. No hard feelings I swear! And I need to take advice from others a little better myself sometimes.
 
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Casie Becker wrote:In what is a perhaps an unintended consequence of this thread, I am reminding myself to include phrases that specify what I do that works "for me in my conditions" I do try to at least be clear where I have a personal bias towards a technique that it might not give the same results in other conditions.

I might be the one who started the conversation onto slug remedies by asking about reptile habitat. Sorry.



We also all really like to help. We wouldn't likely be a permie if we didn't love helping people and helping the earth. So, we see someone with a "problem" of mulch not working, and we want to solve it. We want to help... That doesn't discount the fact that it really isn't helpful when we all say the same things multiple times and make it hard to find the new bits of knowledge such as nematodes. It's good to remember that saying the answer sometimes isn't as helpful as not clogging up a thread...
 
Travis Schulert
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Casie Becker wrote:In what is a perhaps an unintended consequence of this thread, I am reminding myself to include phrases that specify what I do that works "for me in my conditions" I do try to at least be clear where I have a personal bias towards a technique that it might not give the same results in other conditions.

I might be the one who started the conversation onto slug remedies by asking about reptile habitat. Sorry.



We also all really like to help. We wouldn't likely be a permie if we didn't love helping people and helping the earth. So, we see someone with a "problem" of mulch not working, and we want to solve it. We want to help... That doesn't discount the fact that it really isn't helpful when we all say the same things multiple times and make it hard to find the new bits of knowledge such as nematodes. It's good to remember that saying the answer sometimes isn't as helpful as not clogging up a thread...



Well said.
 
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And of course there are rube goldberg machines; hugely complicated ways of getting simple things done. So people started figuring out how to "fix" the mulch situation; for Travis, there is probably a simpler way to get rid of weeds.

We need to keep that in mind to. Some permies like to think up complicated and ingenious ways to do things; I do it myself. But sometimes there is nothing wrong with the simple ways that Grandpa used; they have worked for thousands of years, after all.

Keyhole beds, say; complicated, and difficult for a visitor to maneuver. And unnecessary if the limiting factor is not space.

And that is another factor to keep in mind; is the limiting factor time, money, water, climatic? If we tackle the wrong problem, our solutions will not get us anywhere.

 
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

And that is another factor to keep in mind; is the limiting factor time, money, water, climatic? If we tackle the wrong problem, our solutions will not get us anywhere.


I dont want to clutter up this thread but I answerd the request about mulching a grass field How I cut the grass and covered it with carpet I suppose I should start a thread on the horrors of carpet gardening and the blessings. Any war the link is above if you wnt to explore an alternitive it got this seal of aproval.

Memory Lane: How to Measure Success with Gardening
You received 1 reply | GeoffLawton Online GeoffLawton Online | 3 comments

Hans Quistorff
Hans Quistorff | Saturday, May 7th | View on GeoffLawton Online
How about this way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
Geoff Lawton
Geoff Lawton replied | Tuesday, May 31st | View on GeoffLawton Online
Nice work Hans, easy minimum work system.
 
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hey travis... i have a question. did you take the sheetmulch apart to see where the slugs hide and lay their eggs?
is it under the cardboard or in the mulch?

then: how would mulching without cardboard have performed?


i talked to gardening neighbors. they did not use dog fodder but dry cat fodder. they say that one small bowl attracted MANY (50-100) slugs in a single night. i do not know how big the radius of the lure is, but that might be worth a try.

part of my strategy is to distract slugs by offering other food sources. i chop n drop weeds and drop radish greens or whatever i have around certain areas. people say that some wilting plants are very attractive to slugs. mine seem to like dandelion. i ve read about comfrey for that use.


we have been talking about design systems here. many permies will already have comfrey. but what about using some (otherwise unused) areas to grow stuff to distract slugs. like self seeding lettuces, calendula, tagetes (easy to gather seed en masse and sow).

and btw: you wrote that you were able to get better prices at the market. that might be worth another thread.


have a nice weekend
tobias
 
Travis Schulert
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Tobias Ber wrote:hey travis... i have a question. did you take the sheetmulch apart to see where the slugs hide and lay their eggs?
is it under the cardboard or in the mulch?

then: how would mulching without cardboard have performed?


i talked to gardening neighbors. they did not use dog fodder but dry cat fodder. they say that one small bowl attracted MANY (50-100) slugs in a single night. i do not know how big the radius of the lure is, but that might be worth a try.

part of my strategy is to distract slugs by offering other food sources. i chop n drop weeds and drop radish greens or whatever i have around certain areas. people say that some wilting plants are very attractive to slugs. mine seem to like dandelion. i ve read about comfrey for that use.


we have been talking about design systems here. many permies will already have comfrey. but what about using some (otherwise unused) areas to grow stuff to distract slugs. like self seeding lettuces, calendula, tagetes (easy to gather seed en masse and sow).

and btw: you wrote that you were able to get better prices at the market. that might be worth another thread.


have a nice weekend
tobias



I have, they are retreating under the cardboard during the day. Luckily my broccoli and other brassicas are getting to a size that they are a little less of a worry now.

Update on nematoads. It seems as though they will flourish in the same conditions as other predatory bacteria like ameobas and protozoa. So, in that video he says to stir the water to keep it oxygenated, for 2 weeks while the nematoads grow. So I think by adding infected slugs and the nematoads water from the bucket I should be able to do in 2 weeks of letting a bucket sit with slugs in it, in 12 to 24 hrs in my vortex brewer.

The way it works is like this. When making compost tea, in the first 24 hrs the bacteria dominate the brew, and from 24-48 hours the fungi dominate, and from 48-72 the predatory bacteria thrive on the colony's of bacteria and fungi. This ends here unless you have a vortex brewer that has enough dissolved oxygen from actually burning itself out and going anaerobic.

So what I do is keep the brew running for weeks by adding molasses and a little nitrogen/liquid fish/kelp meal every couple days, this keeps all those different bacteria and fungi thriving daily, together, each group feeding on the dead bodies of yesterday's bacterial bloom. I think if I added a handful of slugs to a well established, as well as a bit of the water from the slug bucket, and maybe a pinch of store bought nematoads just to be safe, then I think I can breed them out extremely quickly and have a really quick turn around rate, and hopefully be watering in beneficials daily.

My fear is that the tea brewer makes a full spectrum balanced mix of bacteria and fungi and when I add the beneficial nematoads they will just die off to a low level because of the amount of diversity.

Or run the tea brewer just sugar and nematoads with a handful of slugs. I will do both and see what happens and see if I notice one or the other working. Problem though is that it's not like results are over night with this, you have to wait for infection to take place.
 
Travis Schulert
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I will make a new topic of how I increased value on my product through marketing, will do that soon.

One key point I will lend now is this: features tell, and benefits sell. Why is your produce better than the other guys?? Also, is the other vendors at market talking to the new customers for 10 minutes about the benefits of no till and nutrient density? I think not, so if your passionate about what you grow you should be able to increase the value of it by explaining why yours is different from everyone else.
 
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I did card board sheet mulching for my big garden and it worked, but the parts I used for a path ended up attracting fire ant, either because they like the cellulose or the termites that card board attracts. I think for the parts where I put dirt over top, it was fine. But as far as using it to make a weed free path it made my garden fire ant town.
 
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I think ecological elaborations are appropriately elaborated upon, obviously. Everybody's got their "Bichos" (bugs, pests) It's whether we have the grail of keeping them cycling into the energy budget of the system. No? And if we are working that way, how do we get the best return on effort? I think constant sampling of the population is needed. After sampling, the samples entertain the chickens and that links directly into the composting system, rolling berm or caterpillar style composting, and scythings and tree service chips and sawdust for mulch, some imported, especially autumn leaves for carbon. The #2 plant of great difficulty at half-acre Julie's Farm is Elymus repens, and it's tough moisture competition, and seems a bit allelopathic to the young trees. It can be super Vole (rodent) habitat. So. I make for much exchange of carbon between the perennials and the inner zone; both leguminous and actinorhizal plants have been introduced: Ceanothus, Alnus, Eleagnus (E. is not a problem here, and legal (!) and pretty easy with good yield and recipes I think I could take 10 acres of glacial sand in Michigan and reforest it native in 15 years if it had Eleagnus on it...))) Here Eleagnus umbellulata is relatively tame, not from our dry summers. I got some seedlings of Eleagnusu. from under an Actinidia arbor in an area that was spray irrigated, but one-time only, they seem quite scarce. Alnus is easy here; Alnus cordata does well, and the native A. rubra will do well if I add some water or have it by an absorption basin. I would like to try some exotic riparian Alnus here if I can get stock and a safe situation to trial it (not in a fluid, rapid changing riparian area) I had an Alder swamp to play in in my home range as a kid. I' happily plant a manageable Alnus hedge on an aquaculture berm. The Alnus rot problem is minimized if you cut the tree so frequently that you can't be hurt by anything that would fall off. It can look odd indeed, but it can up fungal diversity and hymenopteran nesting opportunities. In Myrica we have M. californica which is great bird forage, firewood, suspected hymenopteran nectar plant,with wax bearing fruit, easy to pollard. Here at Julie's Farm my frost pocket makes Myrica a short-lived tree/macro shrub. If we can't bring all our mulch in, keeping the succession in a younger seral stage can bring better harvests. I do have 3 large pines, (1 meter dbh) which are on the northside. Since that is OK for my neighbor- many of the trees he perceived as problematic along that edge were removed, and he has a good sun area for his crop now. The big trees give him afternoon sun; for me they are big bird habitat (raptors and Corvids especially) and mulch source for the Ericaceous block, and, firestarter. Eleagnus is a major source of green pruning mulch/slash. and my bushes are just to that point where I can make decisions about how to do major shaping with them. My strategy is to give solid testing to methods which aren't seen in my region for the most part, and do it largely without petrochemical inputs from small engines. Mostly using Cold Steel, garden cart & so on. (deliveries of bulk carbon riches- well, I can't resist.)
 
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I probably need to state that I use, and strive for, variety in mulch and must grow a fair amount of what I use. Then I "observe and apply feedback" It does seem like variety in mulch and techniques can enhance fertility, kick the fungal/bacterial balance in one direction or the other, and have influence on beneficials like garter snakes and bumble bees. I like thinking about the nematodes too, I should grab a scope that would let me check up on them if one offers itself up. It gives me perspective, hearing how you're approaching it. My yields are less direct in many cases- subsistence #1, high-value trade (genetics, seeds & fruit) nursery stock (licensed), inoculant quantities of compost and chicken feed probably top the list for the part-time farm aspect Less quantifiable but significant are the usual- human habitat and ecological values. And it is always entertaining, like when the large skunk family were guests. (they like to eat snakes)
 
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This may not be much help. But, here goes...we are lucky enough to be able to build what looks like an English garden at our ranch. My grandson calls it The Castle because of the pipe gates and light fixtures. The short walls are brick, and it has a deep footing so hopefully we won't get mice and critters, and deer shouldn't be able to jump in.

The topsoil was pretty well scraped off in order to build, so now we and Mother Nature are making soil. We sheet mulched with cardboard then topped with a deep layer of oak leaves. The neighbors are trained to save their clean grass clippings now. We have lots of big lizards, bountious birds, and ants. The leaves are becoming lovely humus. We have to pull weeds for about 30 minutes every 2 weeks. Seeds in the leaves or seeds that blow in quickly take hold from the top.

We will do this one more year, then let chickens scratch and eat it clean. Then we figure we will be ready to plant.
 
Travis Schulert
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Elizabeth Basden wrote:This may not be much help. But, here goes...we are lucky enough to be able to build what looks like an English garden at our ranch. My grandson calls it The Castle because of the pipe gates and light fixtures. The short walls are brick, and it has a deep footing so hopefully we won't get mice and critters, and deer shouldn't be able to jump in.

The topsoil was pretty well scraped off in order to build, so now we and Mother Nature are making soil. We sheet mulched with cardboard then topped with a deep layer of oak leaves. The neighbors are trained to save their clean grass clippings now. We have lots of big lizards, bountious birds, and ants. The leaves are becoming lovely humus. We have to pull weeds for about 30 minutes every 2 weeks. Seeds in the leaves or seeds that blow in quickly take hold from the top.

We will do this one more year, then let chickens scratch and eat it clean. Then we figure we will be ready to plant.



That's exactly how I would do it in the future. I think it would be okay if you weren't planting vegetables into it on the first year. Maybe wait 2 years to be on the safe side.
 
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Travis Schultz wrote:As far as close spacing goes, and the problems you stated on them, there's just as many good things about it as there are bad. As with most things, depending on the variables at hand. The microclimate created in wide beds has an amazing effect on the health and vigor of a plant, John jeavons has done much work with this. And the countless vineyards on peninsulas around the globe is testament to that. Also the spider level in a shaded living bed is huge. As well as getting the same results as mulch without the slugs. If the voles are going to use both methods happily than I guess I should use the method that doesn't support slug procreating (They are actually hermaphradites).

If you have your soil tested regularly like I do and have legitimate proof that what your doing is building top soil, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, and P K CA increases as well as an uptick in a naturally acidic sandy soils pH then you can say like I can that you are not depleting the soil like industrial ag. If you know what your doing and you have the lab results to back it up, intensive gardening is a great way to show families how much of their diet they can grow in their own backyards, while healing the earth and building community.

Lawton has said many times that the most productive systems in the world are always the smallest.




Hi Travis,

I just want to put this out there,but have you heard of beetle banks? Predaceous beetles such as the slug- and snail-eating carabid beetle (Scaphinotus marginated) have specialized body parts that enable them to prey specifically on snails. Beetle banks involve tilling a strip within or close to the production field and raise it to about 1 foot above the surrounding field, by plowing and reverse plowing. Smooth the top and prepare a fine seedbed for native grasses. The dry insulating clump that forms at the base of the native grasses provide habitat for ground beetles. Also, native grasses are preferred since they don't invade. Apparently, this practice has caught on at the Oregon State University.

I highly recommend the book, "Farming with Native Beneficial Insects", by The Xerces Society. They have a variety of conservatio biocontrol techniques, providing habitat for native and predaceous arthropods as well as a host of other integrated pest management mmethods.

Anyways, just a thought and good luck on keeping them slugs off your crops!
 
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I applied the new homemade nematode mixture as I left it out in the rain and the bucket was filling up. Things are starting to get eaten again also with the forecast saying it will be cloudy and wet over the next few days it should be a good time to apply. I think it will help as it had some of the same white 'flecks' the commercial one had.

Next time I am using comfrey for them to rest on before they die as the combination of fermenting cabbage with slug smells horrendous.
 
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"I have had several people lately try telling me that sheet mulching is the only way to go (most of these members probably don't even have a garden they have just read books and watched geoff lawtons videos) yet they assume they have the perfect system for EVERYONE.

I am here to tell you that just like any other method of farming or gardening you have to experiment and find what works for you. Do not just assume anything in farming until you yourself know how it works. "

I'm totally with you. I use sheet mulching more for perennial tree and shrub systems sicne we like to plant big plots. Sheet mulching and market gardening don't make a lot of sense to me. Too much input required, plus the turnover of crops are more suited to biointensive style beds, in my humble opinion.
 
Travis Schulert
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David Goodman wrote:"

I'm totally with you. I use sheet mulching more for perennial tree and shrub systems sicne we like to plant big plots. Sheet mulching and market gardening don't make a lot of sense to me. Too much input required, plus the turnover of crops are more suited to biointensive style beds, in my humble opinion.



You can spend 20 years building fertility and repairing deficiencies through non input farming, or if your small you can build fertility and repair all deficiencies in 3 years and be feeding your community 15 years before you could be with permaculture on a very run down piece of land. Permaculture may be my end goal, but if I expect to make 50k on 12k sq ft of intensive garden it won't be through waiting for a food forest to grow, but I can start my food forest on year 3, after my market garden is more than paying the bills. It may be more input, but your getting way more out per sq ft than you will be for the first 20 years of a food forest.

Also, I dare you to find me 5 local people willing to volunteer and work for a day that would be able to properly manage harvesting food from food forest, the newbie cant tell a tomato from a pepper. I can barely set them loose on a 100sq ft of 2 crops, let alone in a food forest of hundreds of varieties. They both have their place, I just think you should at least be paying the bills with your 2/10th of an acre, and feeding yourself on that same plot, before you go down the road of waiting for perennials to start producing.

If you start with perennials and you don't have the capital to keep afloat until they start really producing, then that's where a small market garden would really come into play.

I love curtis stones work, even though I dont agree with him saying its permaculture, it's mostly just biointensive and there's nothing really permaculture about it. But he can make 70k a year in a cold climate growing a wide diversity of market crops. Doing all of this on a tiny amount of borrowed land. That's the same thing I am doing currently, all the while when I find good deals on certain perennials I pick them up and get them growing in the margins of my garden, and when I buy land mortgage free in a couple years, I already have some of the genetics on site for propagating all my longer term food forest crops.
 
David Good
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Yes, agreed.

And when I wrote "sheet mulching and market gardening don't make a lot of sense to me", that wasn't clear. What I meant by that was that sheet mulching IN market gardens doesn't make a lot of sense. Feed your family and pay your bills and mulch when appropriate. I built some very good soil in an old compacted area via double-digging and green manuring repeatedly. It doesn't take a ton of mulch.

You're also right on volunteers. You need educated people to start or you end up with nightshade in the lettuce basket and fruit picked weeks before its time.
 
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I totally agree with your assessment of the situation, Travis: to obtain a yield is an extremely important goal. Annuals yield right off. Sheet mulching is resource intensive, and difficult over more than 1000 sq. ft. at a time unless you have lots of labor, a bunch of carts or wheelbarrows, and a good source of good mulch for low cost or free. Forest Gardens are great, but they are a very different environment from what most people are used to, and it takes time to understand them. Yields are not primarily vegetables, at least after the first years, and vegetable yields are not high because of trees and other woody plants and perennials are mixed in. If the planner does not fully understand forest gardens and design it well, it's hard to teach others new tricks, because it will be so difficult working in it. I certainly don't understand my forest garden, and I grew up foraging in complex feral orchard/vineyard/wood land. It is a fine idea I think, to start developing forest garden- an initially small area at the least could be a variety test ground, furnish habitat for beneficial arthropods and shade, fruit, flowers and resting space for the crew working the vegetable crop. And there's certainly appeal in having some flowers accompany the vegetables being sold. The thought of barreling full-on into a huge forest garden that was intended to pay for the farm is scary, and on land that will become housing, not justifiable. In my home mini farm, the vegetable/grain production is mostly separate from the forest garden boundary. People who come and volunteer with me to learn my system help with the annual crops and on breaks we're eating fruit and berries from the forest garden. Herbs, medicines, flowers and spices from the forest garden add to the offerings. I'm on year 4 here; still breaking new ground and trying to get soil and weed problems minimized in the annual beds, but it's coming along. Still finding out that some early choices in the forest garden weren't so good. And I've been at this in this state, for over 30 years, albeit on differing soils and microclimates at different times. If you are making a living, even if you're working damn hard, that's an achievement.
 
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As far as sheet mulching in a market garden, if you have conditions appropriate to sheet mulching- i.e., access to large amounts of cheap or free mulch and a site amenable & accessible to delivery of the mulch, I say GO FOR IT. I currently have a site (1/2 acre) where the power company and tree services can drop full loads of fresh tree chips, IMHO the best possible mulch, and city leaves in the fall (full of Halloween candy wrappers, street gravel, extraneous pieces of cars, fast food detritus and so on- much less appealing, but often worth the hassle. I have currently room for up to 5 truckloads at a time unless I also use the front driveway. This is true wealth and opportunity! (At other times the free mulch has been free planer shavings (no treated or resinous composite or ply wood, no fungicide-soaked tropical hardwood, etc. Scrounger Beware!) which came in cardboard barrels from the furniture shop's dust collector system) Here, with this easy-delivery set-up and a garden cart, I was producing export quantities of corn, squash, beans, and other crops from the beginning, while working on the house and doing edible landscape installations to pay the bills. Considering this place had been used as a parking lot, had a poor crushed rock driveway hidden in the turf, and been driven on by tree service trucks removing problem trees, sheet mulch made LOTS of sense. (did I mention city water is expensive too, and the mulch helps with that?) Once the ground is receptive and softer, I can effectively work the deep compaction out with a magna graecia hoe. I have back problems, and even picking up a broadfork hurts, but the magna graecia hoe is much lighter and the two long tines penetrate this heavy clay wonderfully well, at a fraction of the weight of a broadfork, and comb out the quack grass runners better. The quack is my #1 problem weed here. I've never heard a broadfork proponent say their baby was good at combing out quack runners. (which do have market value- a fine herb for prostate problems, and they're edible by us or hogs or chooks) Finding good green manure crops for this land has been tough; I have had success with broadbeans and a number of mustards, but it's taken a while to find them. While I've had slugs come in with. and enjoy hiding in the leaves, I've not had that problem with the green tree chips. Leaves do seem to be preferred over chips by cucurbits though, and the slugs don't bother them as much as other crops. If you stick dogmatically to any one method, you're stuck. Observe and interact, accept feedback, use all the principles. Gardening on a larger scale is challenging, and I admire any microfarmer who manages to succeed.
 
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Thick pieces of Hemlock and Spruce bark (1-2ft long, 8" wide) placed on top of the mulch and on pathways within my gardens is my go to for slug control.
 
Travis Schulert
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dan collins wrote:Thick pieces of Hemlock and Spruce bark (1-2ft long, 8" wide) placed on top of the mulch and on pathways within my gardens is my go to for slug control.



What is that doing? Is it bait? Deterrent?
 
dan collins
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Yes its bait. The slugs/snails like to hide on the underside of the bark out of the sun. A pair of work gloves with the rubber palm/fingers works good picking and wiping the slugs off the bark into a bucket The concave shape of the slab of bark makes a nice chute for aiming them in to a bucket with 3" of water in it. I usually try not let the underside (concave) of the bark dry out and I check once a day, then throw them to the fish and ducks.





 
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Hi Travis.

I'm in Nova Scotia on the Atlantic, and we're having a cool, wet and foggy spring/summer so far and slugs are our MAJOR problem here. I'm only in year 3 of my garden and did my first sheet mulch last fall. I did a layer of seaweed, topped with about 2-3 inches of composted goat shed bedding topped with straw.

I avoided sheet mulching the year before because I was freaked out about the slugs myself. So this spring, as the weather started to warm up, I pulled the straw off several of the beds and let them sit bare for Apr/May and those have been fairly slug free so far. I only had a small amount of weeding to do leaving them uncovered. I'm still in seeding mode, since it's been so cool, so it remains to be seen what gets eaten.

As an added measure, I'm about to put wooden 2x6 edges on most of the beds (I only have about 7, each around 3'x 6' or less) and I'll be running copper mesh around the inside and to the top of each board. I get it in a roll from Lee Valley Tools here. I've been told by neighbors that copper mesh is pretty effective...gives slugs a small charge not unlike the charged wire solution mentioned above.

I'll keep you posted...
 
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Susanna Pitussi wrote:
Hi Travis.

I'm in Nova Scotia on the Atlantic, and we're having a cool, wet and foggy spring/summer so far and slugs are our MAJOR problem here. I'm only in year 3 of my garden and did my first sheet mulch last fall. I did a layer of seaweed, topped with about 2-3 inches of composted goat shed bedding topped with straw.

I avoided sheet mulching the year before because I was freaked out about the slugs myself. So this spring, as the weather started to warm up, I pulled the straw off several of the beds and let them sit bare for Apr/May and those have been fairly slug free so far. I only had a small amount of weeding to do leaving them uncovered. I'm still in seeding mode, since it's been so cool, so it remains to be seen what gets eaten.

As an added measure, I'm about to put wooden 2x6 edges on most of the beds (I only have about 7, each around 3'x 6' or less) and I'll be running copper mesh around the inside and to the top of each board. I get it in a roll from Lee Valley Tools here. I've been told by neighbors that copper mesh is pretty effective...gives slugs a small charge not unlike the charged wire solution mentioned above.

I'll keep you posted...



Good stuff Susanna, def keep us posted as to the results.
 
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copper: yes, it s supposed to work. they sell little wire-fences here against slugs. and adhesive tape of copper-foil.
but they wont work immediately. they need to bit of time (and moisture) to form an oxide that does the job.
 
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Tobias Ber wrote:copper: yes, it s supposed to work. they sell little wire-fences here against slugs. and adhesive tape of copper-foil.
but they wont work immediately. they need to bit of time (and moisture) to form an oxide that does the job.



It helps but doesnt work outright in my opinion. If they are determined they will cross copper they just dont seem that keen on it. Plus the larger the slug the more copper you need to put down.

Sheeps wool seems to have a similar performance rate.

What is good is distracting them with comfrey they tend to go for that before your plants which buys you more time.
 
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One other curiosity in relation to slug damage is that the self seeded plants are mostly untouched by the slugs. The offspring of the beetroot I grew and allowed to seed last year are doing well (despite the parent plants being eaten). Wether this is epigenetics, non disturbance of the earth magnetic field from iron tools (the theory behind copper tools), luck or they simply havent got round to eating them yet I do not know.
 
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Spraying slugs, especially the small ones, with a 30% ammonia solution seems to kill them. And it deteriorates into nitrogen which should feed plants. Large slugs might need a snipping, though ;)
 
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nancy sutton wrote:Spraying slugs, especially the small ones, with a 30% ammonia solution seems to kill them. And it deteriorates into nitrogen which should feed plants. Large slugs might need a snipping, though ;)



Is there anyone else who can add to this? I would like to know the risk involved with putting diluted ammonia on the organic garden.

Is store bought, chemically derived ammonia easily converted into ammonia nitrate? Is that a natural form? Is this hurting microbe life or helping it?
 
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what i am thinking about:

how can you design a system so that it would reduce or even stop slug/snail problems?


just some thoughts and trying to compile what has been mentioned in this thread.

  • barriers... (copper, water, sheets with 45° bend overhang to the outside ...). especially for valuable or slug-attracting crops or when you ve got a slug-invasion from a certain direction (a meadow or something)


  • predator habitat ...(beetle banks, water for frogs n toads, rock piles for snakes n lizards ...)


  • chicken, ducks, quails... tractor or mobile coops, fencings. get them in before planting and/or after a bed or group of beds is harvested


  • pathways ... no sheet mulching. maybe boards to turn over als slug staging area. maybe hard, open surfaces, where you can easily see and step on slugs.


  • plants... comfrey as chop n drop to lure/distract slugs n snails and they tend to gather under wilting big, leaves. maybe having areas to grow luring plants like tagetes and/or self seeding lettuces. maybe growing certain kinds of fern and dropping leaves. there are poisenous ferns here, people have used them to de-worm their guts. people say that these will drive away or kill slugs.


  • distracting composting area ... when you harvest, you can drop the leaves into certain areas. these will attract slugs. you can fence them and let the chicken in every two or three days. they get leaves + slugs


  • getting rid of slug hiding places .... are there places where they are hiding during the day? like bushes or something? you might consider getting them out of range from your valuable crops. How far do slugs/snails move in one night? I read about max 12 m. reducing the slug hiding places within a range of 5-10 meters aorund your beds/crops might help.






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    Has anyone mentioned using pennies? I've read that slugs won't cross any kind of copper. So just make a penny barrier around plants/plant beds you want to protect.

    And I'm using tons of sheet mulch, with no major slug problems so far. But I also water very very little, and we have had a pretty dry spring here in NY. When I do water its by hand, not with any kind of drip line or sprinkler. I also have my garden surrounded by trees, and its a bit of a hangout spot for birds, so I guess I just have a good situation for sheet mulching.
     
    Rick Valley
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    These modern times, pennies are a mere copper veneer over a zinc core; an actual copper penny has more than 1 cent's worth of copper. The zinc/copper sandwich pennies, when exposed to prolonged moisture, corrode rapidly because of the different metals in close contact. I'm testing whether it is possible to kill a plant by pounding a few pennies into the trunk "with the grain" since quantities of both micronutrients are toxic to plants.
    I feel toxics are very short-term solutions to pests; habitat for the pest's predators is more properly permaculture, as is regarding the pest as a resource (my mollusks are quality chicken feed) But yes, I do use small quantities of iron sulfate slug bait around Hi Priority plants, like newly seeded flats of veggie starts. And as I am told to do, I scatter the bait because it doesn't work unless the slug runs into it and eats it- they won't track the bait down.
     
    nancy sutton
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    "... combing out the quackgrass runners..." you're speaking my language! Thanks a BIG bunch, Rick, for that info on the magna graecia hoe...the kind of thing I've been 'imagining' as perfect for my quackgrass (another PNWer :) problem ...yes, fork is good, but now I know my 'dream tool' is real ;) Will be getting one soon ;) And also thanks for the info on using quack :)
     
    Travis Schulert
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    I just bought the biggest bag of sluggo I could. With the money I'm making off the garden I figured if the investment works it will save me much more in the long run.

    We had a long misty moisty rainy day on Thursday. So that's when I got the 40 pound bag of sluggo, and applied liberally to the entire are, not just the garden.

    I went out snipping that night anyway and every slug I snipped oozed white, telling me they were eating the sluggo. Iv only seen 1 slug since Thursday.

    I pulled up mulch in a few areas to find hundreds of slugs either dead or dying in a small area, basically anywhere I looked.

    $200 in sluggo should be enough for a year and a half at the garden. And it completely frees me up to plant, prune, and harvest to make more $ per sq ft. The numbers work out, it's more profitable to buy the sluggo than to spend anymore time with the "cheap" approaches.

    The old timer at the organic garden shop (mom and pop shop, started as organic in the 70's, never sold chemical anything) told me you don't have to apply it all season if you apply a little sluggo in early spring when you see the first slug pop up. If you wait till you have an infestation it will then cost you hundreds of dollars in sluggo. But if you hit them early before they start laying all the eggs everywhere it only takes 1 or possibly 2 applications.

    To me it makes sense, because it's all about breaking that cycle.

    I'm sure half of you are going to cry when you learn I just payed money to a local shop, helped grandkids go to college and all. Instead of attempting to do this the slow and cheap way. But my time is very valuable, not only do I think so but the company I work for during the week thinks so too, and a hundred hours snipping slugs for the year, is just not a good use of my time.

    I have noticed the beetles have been getting their numbers up, and I will be planting canary grasses in a couple areas throughout the garden. My nematoads brew is about ready, so between those 2 things, I just may be able to keep my sheet mulch! Wouldn't that be fuckin sweet.

     
    Rick Valley
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    Sounds like the needed action! And it sounds like you have a knowledgeable local resource in the proprietor of the garden shop. I have said I use Sluggo too; I in fact took serious notes when I attended Soil School this year, (Soil School is an annual thing staged by the NRCS up near Portland; I needed some Continuing Ed credits for my license, but it was worth it even without that pressing need) and I now sprinkle it around my sensitive seedlings rather than make little piles- apparently the slugs aren't drawn to it as much as they merely snarf it when they run into it. Once my plants are big, if they are drawing slugs and snails I simply mark those plants as stops on the slug patrol route, as I gather treats for the chooks. And- have you talked with the Hidden Savannah Nursery folks or played about on their site? IMHO they have one of the most awesome selections of native plants in N. America, and if they can't match you up with a short list of natives compatible with your agricultural aims and apt to further beneficial insect habitat, I don't know who could. "Michigan Selections" they say... Tell them you're going to see if you can do the Xerces Society thang and recruit some aid from the Hymenoptera, Diptera and the Coleopterans too... and maybe get some Lepidopterans hanging out just to impress folks with the show. I know it's a "Bedouin Scene" for you as a renter, but once you have some "regulars" of the native plants, it's pretty simple to propagate them as you wish, and when it's time to move on to the next, they can come along. (speaking from experience)
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    I went out snipping that night anyway and every slug I snipped oozed white, telling me they were eating the sluggo.


    When a live slug finds a dead one thy usually stop to eat it so the poisoned slug also becomes bait. There is a multiplier effect.
    Slugs go down the filler tube for my wicking barrels so a ring of bait around that gets them. They love to travel on smooth surfaces so if they come across a hose they will travel along on top of it then hide under it during the day. Sam with my wicking barrels.
     
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    Duck/chicken tunnels are what I am going to try. Modular, movable and rotating in between hugel bed rows. Given some cost for your time slugging and the fact that duck pond water/manure is the best fertilizer I have ever seen for flowering plants, I think they definitely could pay for their costs (2x4" fencing is pretty cheap and can make a pretty sturdy dome). I will be making a permanent extension to their run into the area atop my property with the my highest pond potential site, and then out of a central 12/60ft net and wire covered area make a 2x2" network of tunnels that can be closed at different points and moved or removed to direct the birds to rotating sections of the garden where they will slug, feed, and fertilize. Also, crispy, sharp mulch (i.e. kelp works here on the coast) helps with slugs. Encouraging wild birds also helps balance the slugs, which are like any animal a response to a lack of their predators and an abundance of accessible food. They also don't care for redwood, red cedar, and other extremely tannic bark/wood, which with the right fungi will not make your soil significantly more acidic (I have seen fertilizer mixed with water at 3.5ph going into good, conifer based and fungally inoculated soil and come out 6.5). I don't know what I'd do in Michigan, but I'd start by looking at wild, endemic predators and deterrents for slugs and emulate or utilize them. Even killing and leaving the slugs will encourage their predators and parasites to flourish and they will eventually succeed to a more complex ecosystem. Also be thankful for your hard freezes, I don't get those in NW California.
     
    Travis Schulert
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    Ben Zukisian wrote:Duck/chicken tunnels are what I am going to try. Modular, movable and rotating in between hugel bed rows. Given some cost for your time slugging and the fact that duck pond water/manure is the best fertilizer I have ever seen for flowering plants, I think they definitely could pay for their costs (2x4" fencing is pretty cheap and can make a pretty sturdy dome). I will be making a permanent extension to their run into the area atop my property with the my highest pond potential site, and then out of a central 12/60ft net and wire covered area make a 2x2" network of tunnels that can be closed at different points and moved or removed to direct the birds to rotating sections of the garden where they will slug, feed, and fertilize. Also, crispy, sharp mulch (i.e. kelp works here on the coast) helps with slugs. Encouraging wild birds also helps balance the slugs, which are like any animal a response to a lack of their predators and an abundance of accessible food. They also don't care for redwood, red cedar, and other extremely tannic bark/wood, which with the right fungi will not make your soil significantly more acidic (I have seen fertilizer mixed with water at 3.5ph going into good, conifer based and fungally inoculated soil and come out 6.5). I don't know what I'd do in Michigan, but I'd start by looking at wild, endemic predators and deterrents for slugs and emulate or utilize them. Even killing and leaving the slugs will encourage their predators and parasites to flourish and they will eventually succeed to a more complex ecosystem. Also be thankful for your hard freezes, I don't get those in NW California.



    See, my farm is a market garden, not an animal farm. I don't have too many options for livestock, but here's my take on that anyway;
    I think Joel salatin, and many others try to make owning ducks or chickens or pigs way easier and less time consuming than it really is. It sounds like your going to have hundreds into fencing for your ducks, at least, and then comes the chore aspect, as everyday it will take your attention, and monthly it will cost you more money. The other reality is that ducks trample, even if they don't eat the crops they are foraging within. But you can say it's a sustainable option, sure, in a sense it is, except your importing wire and wood, screws and nails, possible feed (I'm certainly not setup to have a full circle feed operation going with my chickens.

    My experience is that you have to love taking care of the animals every single day, you have to get out there whether it's cold, hot, dry, or raining to take care of them. Like Joel salatin always talks about his single strand of electric wire for keeping pigs. Except he doesn't tell you how often a pig will knock a sapling over on the wire while doing its pigness and all of them will just wander out. Same with logs, they will roll logs over the fencin lg while feeding themselves and wander out. Though most people go into the salatin style pig thing never thinking about how it works for him because it's his system and he has had decades to perfect it on his land.

    I remember a podcast by Paul where a couple, in I believe northern Cali were having a hard time getting through to paul that the single strand of electric fence will not work for them because the soil is too dry to properly ground the pig, so it wasn't a hard enough pop to scare the pigs, paul just didn't want to believe that it wouldn't work for them. And I think Paul's perspective is that they should be able to make it work if they wanted it bad enough, which is true to a point. I just don't want more animals bad enough to make a different option work for me. The cost of infrastructure to keep ducks in beds 2, 6,7, 10, 15, 30, 35, bed 60 or bed 70, while simultaneously keeping them out of the other beds, is staggering... I'm looking at several days of work, and probably thousands (if I want to do it right) not a huge fan of slapping something together then having to fix it yearly.

    I know it's easy to talk about putting ducks in, like "just a covered 12/60 ft area", how much time does it take to put all this together? And then each year how much maintenance will it take. Because if you build something quick and cheap you will be repairing it again in a year, and again and again. Because if you give me a half a day at the garden I can plant $400 worth of microgreens, I may only harvest 300 out of it. But I can harvest last week's shoots, package, and replant that same space in couple hours, then make hundreds off of a 10 ft bed. Whereas, the ducks will have a meat and egg yield, but after how long? There's very little money in eggs and meat processing, especially when it's not done in mass like a factory (like Joel salatin). At the small level it's taking up a lot of time and not having huge returns on input. But my little market garden CAN have huge returns for small amounts of input.

    As far as the sluggo goes, the cost for easy prevention , does not compare to the time and money I'll waste getting ducks into the garden. Also, Michigan winters and keeping poultry are not a fun mix on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
     
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