hello folks, I have a quick question that has likely been posed several times. Last year I lay a think layer of mulch down from my community compost site. I let it over winter on top of my soil and in the spring, I tilled it in. The result (as many of you will predict) was awesome. The soil turned soft, and black. It was and is riddled with worms and the garden took off like Ive never experienced in other sites. The reason I tilled it in was because the site was so eroded and hard. The soil was previously mostly clay. Without exaggerating, the site was unused for years, and it still had no weeds in it.
At any rate, I have a lot of slugs now. The season is only just started up here in Alberta, but there are tons. They have already cut holes in my taters (which have been doing phenomenal up to now), beans and radish tops. Im hoping that you folks can help me to progress in the best direction with this, as I am trying to remain sustainable at the same time. I don't want to have to resort to chemical poisons but I also really hope to be storing garden vegetables into the Canadian winter. I have read in many locations about beer in cups, copper strips, hand picking, board on the ground, you get the idea. I have also read about DE being a suitable solution as well, I think this one remains sustainable? I have been mulching around my plants to help with moisture control too I should note. A thing Id like to continue as I have not had to water at all yet with a slightly wetter spring this year.
I am hoping that some of you have been in my boat and can help me eliminate a few of these, and guide me in which action to take first.
what kind of slugs are they ? or are they mixed varieties?
did you want to remove them all or just a percentage?
have you noticed if they have a preferable food source there ? ie (90% potato's 10% anything else)
Do you have any natural predators in the immediate area ?
i feel the more info you have about the problem , will get you closer to an answer you desire
I think Paul Wheaton would say that the abundance of slugs is an indication of an imbalance you created. Nature will always fight to restore the balance, and could take a lot of time to correct, but if left alone, would correct itself.
I think he would further argue that the imbalance affected the immune system of your plants, and the ones getting decimated are the ones with weaker genetics, and that the function of the slugs is to thin your plant population, leaving only the best, if indeed, some are being left untouched.
Additionally, he might say that you don't have an abundance of slugs but rather a deficiency of ducks.
Just my guess at it though. If you're not financially dependent on the success of the crop, I'd say leave it alone and let Nature work, otherwise, you can nudge Nature along a bit by providing some natural predators.
Ducks like slugs as do toads and lizards. We've had a slug problem here as well, they destroyed my spring garden, and some of it was just due to an unusually wet spring (and summer!) You can try making beer traps to drown them. Stale beer left after a party is best (I hate wasting food). Coffee grounds also kill them, caffeine is deadly to slugs but they eat the coffee grounds anyway.
posted 7 years ago
In my area we have a number of Leopard slugs, they eat other slugs and snails , and when their numbers get out of control (as they do eat some of the plants too) i simply use dry cat food in a container , and empty the slugs out of it morning and evening till their numbers are lower ... I drop them straight into a can 1/4 filled with pool salt and reuse the biscuits (for slug bait only) ... quicker death than drowning... identify the slugs before removing them , some are somewhat beneficial and everything has it's place in this world
I have had good luck with wood ash and D.E. Straight DE would work, but you have to buy it, and a blend of 3/4 ashes to 1/4 DE seems to work nearly as well..... In a severe infestation, I would personally draw the mulch away from the plants or don't mulch those areas every year. I've learned to do this this year with earwigs too. It points up the principle "it depends" often quoted by permaculturists. Mulch is almost always a good thing, but not absolutely always in every situation. I am anxious on the longer term to have ducks patrolling sectors of the garden.......
ya, I'd like to make another vote for snakes, they eat slugs, insects, mice, and several other plant eaters.
garter snakes can be quite cold hardy, don't know how far north you are in alberta, but they cover most of it.
Also by creating a habitat for them you'll be doing great service for the environment and local ecology,
since much of their habitat was destroyed by urbanization, and agricultural fields,
so it is a system out of balance, and if you don't want to wait till the next ice age,
when some rocks might dig themselves into the soil, you'll have to make your own snake habitat.
The main thing you have to do before getting the snakes, is making a winter shelter for them, called a hibernaculum.
It's more sophisticated than just some rocks, gotta be below frost line, at least 2 meters deep, in sunny, low-wind area
If you have seen them in the area, may be able to just build it, and they'll come.
If not, can gather some from where they are abundant in the wild, or get them as pets and introduce them to your area,
assuming you have enough food (slugs, insects) and the hibernacula set up right they'll thrive.
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