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grubs

 
                    
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Our garden is overrun with a kind of big grub. I have no idea what it is, it is whitish, greyish,  not quite 2 inches long when not  rolled up. We must have introduced them with manure that we brought in.  I have never seen anything the like.  They have killed my rhubarb, I dug it up and that is what I found., grubs galore.  Every spade full that I turn over has at least five grubs in it. I keep a bucket there and in one bed, about 3 by 8, I picked up 6 coffee cans full of the critters. The chickens pig out on them.  Some cushaws that I had left in the garden for the chickens  they started eating from below. I am worried that they will attack the roots of the fruit trees. Does anyone know what they are and what can one do to get rid of them? I can not dig up every square inch of my four gardens to eradicate them. 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Paul wrote the following in his lawn care article:

This is where birds are your friends. Birds think grubs are yummy.

I have never had to personally deal with grubs. And I have yet to encounter an organic grower that has had to deal with them. But I have had many people write to me and ask how to deal with grubs organically. Nearly all of them have mentioned "Last year I sprayed toxic goo to get rid of the grubs and now they're back". While I did not see what happened, my guess is that birds and other natural grub control ate the dead grubs and died. No more natural grub control.

So the trick is to kill the grubs, but don't harm anything that eats grubs. The answer is to bring in more grub predators.

Having done a little reading on this topic, "Milky Spore" (Bacillus popilliae) and/or predatory nematodes appear to be the organic control. "Milky Spore" is a naturally occuring bacteria that makes the grubs puke their guts out, but it doesn't seem to bother anything else. So if a bird eats a dead grub, the bird will be fat and happy. Predatory nematodes (also called "beneficial nematodes" are like micro worms that crawl through the soil and eat a variety of different organisms, including grubs.
 
                          
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When i bought a bunch of chicken manure fertilizer from the local market, they had a bunch of the small white grubs in it as well. One thing I found that helped kill them off as I applied it to the topsoil was that I have a bunch of geckos that live in my yard. They basically come to investigate after broadcasting the fertilizer and I assume they come to find the grubs and what not that comes crawling out and eats um.
 
Leah Sattler
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sorry about your rhubarb

although they could be something else they sound like june beetle or japanese beetle larvae to me and they can be very damaging at certain stages in their development. moles will feast on them. but I am not sure you want to encourage those! I think there are several bio-insectides out there on the market although I am unfamiliar with their ingredients or mode of controlling them and deserve some research before using them willy nilly I am sure. what you are doing (digging them up) is great but you're right its rather time consuming and impractical. I would think about controlling the beetles during their mature stage, that will probalby be you best long term solution.
 
paul wheaton
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they look a bit like the Japanese beetle larva, only much larger.  If I could I would post a picture.  Chickens can only get at them if I am digging them up.  I have googled and have not found what it is.  It can not be green June bug grubs, as it does not walk on it's back. It is way bigger than white grubs. I think I will dig up a few and put them in a jar with alcohol and take them to the Extension Agent.  sepp holzer more than likely would let his pigs take care of the problem, but my husband does not want pigs.  I will look into milky spore. 
 
                                
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Location: Lake Zurich, IL
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Here's a link to ID grubs:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2510.html
 
Leah Sattler
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did you ever find out what those grubs were?
 
                    
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thanks for the link.
No, I have not found out what they are.  right now I can not do much about it as I am laid up due to an accident.  I am seriously thinking pigs.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Elfriede B wrote:
I am seriously thinking pigs.


Wow, that might do a lot of damage.

Are you thinking of broadcasting some radishes or similar a few weeks before the pigs, to make sure they root through the soil thoroughly? 

Here in Oakland, there's a trend toward hiring people to use goats to clear brush, which sounds like what you are suggesting.  Are there people who keep pigs in the area, and would be willing to manage them on your property for a short time?
 
                    
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oh, I am not planning to let pigs have the run of the place. I thought of running a hot wire around the garden and maybe even dividing it into sections. Let the pigs take turns in working each section over and hopefully, when they discover, (with my help), that there are grubs in that soil, they go hogwild.
 
Leah Sattler
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you wouldn't have to help them discover anything! you could always keep them a short while then have them butchered after they have dug through. I kept mine for 5 months in a garden area but could have got away with 1/2 that to rid the garden of bermuda which was what my goal was. I would also put hay, or straw or something similiar in with them next time so they could help work that into the soil. they will eat every bit of everything in a short time and the soil was a little hard when they left. mulch and compost fixed that in a hurry.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I wonder if pigs would clear an area of wild morning glory (bindweed)?  I don't care much for pigs, and here with one-acre lots I don't think it's a great place for keeping pigs, but if I could get rid of the bindweed I'd raise pigs next year!

Kathleen
 
Leah Sattler
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I know paul doesn't agree with this method but I can tell you that if you put a few pigs in an area sized correctly to do so they can and will completely destroy all vegetation if given the opportunity. if they don't actually eat it they will bury it with their rooting. for an acre some electric fence might be good for rotational purposes. mine did their job during the fall and winter and were gone to the butcher in about five months at around 220 lbs. and they didn't leave a shred of bermuda grass. i was extremely pleased. and I personally think they were happy pigs. certainly much better off then factory farmed ones.

I posted pics of their damage er uh I mean work here http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=942.0
 
Brenda Groth
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skunks love them, as do birds, even cats and dogs will eat them if you throw them to them.

there are some control methods sold at the organic chemical retailers, one is called "grub away"..from I  think Gardens Alive...check them out online.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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How many pigs would it take to clear a quarter of an acre per year?  Would two be enough, do you think?  (I wouldn't want to have our whole lot inside a pig pen!  And I need some of it for the goats, garden, and so on.)

Kathleen
 
Leah Sattler
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sizing the area might take some experimentation to find out what works for your soil and vegetative conditions. my garden area was approx 25X40 feet it was well worked by the end of december and we got the pigs in september. if that gives you something to work with. they were only about 50lbs to begin with.  I wish I would have taken them out a bit sooner but I wanted to get them up to the ideal butcher weight and didn't have anywhere else to put them. 

I think two would be plenty if you just had  bit of hot wire to move them round to different areas after they worked an area to your liking. I can't imagine feeding more then two.....the did seem to eat ALOT! and it isn't cheap mine got a mix of regular pig food, scraps and bread lots of pecans (they loved crunching pecans!) and whatever they managed to scrounge up in the area they were in.
 
                    
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glad to hear from folks who actually used pigs to clear their garden.  In the meantime we got two piglets from an Amish farmer we know.They are busy rooting already in the areas that I suspected of being the worst infested,  the area that got the most manure.
My hopes are up that they will also rid several areas that have  Johnson grass from mulch with spoiled hay.  I am curious to see if it will be enough to rake the ground smooth in spring and plant. 
 
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