Patrick Whitefield wrote:The only slugs you'll have will be ones which come in from outside.
Paula Edwards wrote:
There is one thing which really seems to work (I haven't done it and now we're going back to dry conditions) that is a copper band whith sticky tape on the back. The slugs get zapped when they try to cross it. ... You can try electrical wire as well, don't ask me detais.
Patrick Whitefield wrote:Wow, these are some awesome slug remedies. I'm inclined to agree with you, John, about putting them on the compost heap. That's where I put them. It makes real sense that they'd rather stay in a warm heap of food, no crawling required, bed provided than go back out into the garden. I mean wouldn't you?
My sister uses scissors too, Dave, to leathal effect. It does look gruesome but it's effective - if you don't believe the one about just having to put them on the compost heap. In fact the scissor job's not unlike crushing cabbage white caterpillars - do you have them in N America? - which I do with no qulams. It just looks more brutal.
That spray sounds pretty effective, James. I presume you spray it on the ground around plants you want to protect, as a deterrent. How much per area do you use?
What's the purpose of the hot water treatment, Paula, is it to get the nutrients back into the ground or as a deterrent to other slugs? I know the biodynamic people have one where you burn slugs and then spray a solution of their ashes over the garden in homoeopathic quantities. I expect you have to do it at the right stage of the moon etc, and it probably won't work unless youve sensitised the land first with 500 and 501 preparations. Does anyone know?
Patrick Whitefield wrote:Hello,
Yes, slugs and mulch is one of the perennial questions. Permaculture started in Australia, where slugs aren't such a problem but drying soil and soil exposed to excessive sun are big problems. Here in temperate climates conditions are different and slugs are a much bigger problem. I feel that importing Australian permaculture wholesale rather misses the point. For me the basis of permaculture is tuning into the unique characteristics of the land and the people in question and designing for them, not faithfully following a prescription. Myself I use very little mulch. Mostly I just mulch with well made compost.
Here I'm following Charles Dowding, a famous no-dig gardener here in Britain. He started off his gardening career some 25 years ago very much inspired by Ruth Stout and her deep mulch method. He very soon found you can't get away with that in a place where slugs are a problem and adopted a compost-only approach to mulching. He mulches the whole of his garden with 5cm (2in) of compost every autumn. By spring it's well incorporated into the soil and he has a slug-free habitat for his vulnerable little plants. Putting compost on in autumn is against all the theory, which says the nutrients in it will be leached out by the rain come spring. But he reckons his soil is so full of life that they all become bound up in biological form and there's no significant leaching.
Probably the best way to control slugs in the garden is with ducks. Let them have free range in winter, when there are no crops they want to eat, and by spring there will be no slug eggs left at all. The only slugs you'll have will be ones which come in from outside. You can then let the ducks into the garden when you're there and if they stop eating slugs and start eating your crops you can politely usher them back into their permanent home. You may have to net some of their favourite nibbles, eg young brassicas. You need to get the right breed. Most ducks are vegetarian but Khaki Campbells are omniverous and love slugs.
Frogs are the next best. They won't eliminate slugs, as no wild predator eliminates its prey, but a good population of frogs makes a big difference. All you need is to provide a pond with shallow water, less than 60cm (2ft), and they'll come in if you live in a rural area. It can dry up after the frog breeding season is over. In suburban and urban areas it's hard to build up a frog population, though, as cats will kill them.
Personally, I can't keep ducks as I'm often away from home, nor frogs because of the local cat population. I try to minimise slug problems by growing crops which avoid them, including perennial vegetables and spring greens (collards) which, in our mild climate you can start off in autumn, when slugs aren't a problem, and mature them in spring. When I do have some vulnerable crops I sprinkle a cordon of bran around them. Slugs simply love bran - they'll go for it in preference to green vegetables - but it's fatal to them. It dries up their slime and they swell up and die. I just use it to get the plants over the first few vulnerable days when I plant them out. I don't like to use too much of it. After all it's food and you could use up more calories of bran than the calories in vegetables you save, which seems to me to miss the point rather.
Has anyone else got good tips?