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mulching WITHOUT attracting slugs and snails?  RSS feed

 
dan long
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Short answer: use compost as mulch

I made a lasagna bed here in Taiwan where we have huge MONSTER snails. 2 weeks later they arrived in force and pretty much F'ed S up. But I noticed that 2 months later, after the bed had broken down into finer particles, it was no longer all that attractive to them anymore, like they had been replaced by worms. That led me to the idea that for those of us with lots of slug and snail pressure, was can still mulch but we should be using material that is at least half way composted so as not to provide habitat to the little guys.

There is another alternative to this that would mean less labor but proportionately more slugs: mulch rotation. If we are going to use thick mulch, we should only mulch about half of our beds so that the ones that are already mulched have time to break down. That means that half the garden is slug habitat but the other half is not. With the prime real estate being constantly moved, the slugs don't have perennial breeding grounds. By the time slug eggs hatch, there is little protection from predators anymore.

Will this second method also deny Housing Justice to slug predators? I don't think so. Slugs move relatively slowly and cannot quickly move from one shelter to another. Wolf spiders and beetles move much faster and can likely migrate to the next mulched area. Birds, snakes, lizards and frogs wont be using the mulch for habitat anyways.
 
Roy Clarke
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Useful tips Dan, thanks. The problem I have is a shortage of homemade compost at present, but I am gearing up for next year. In the mean time I was looking for a way of mulching and conserving moisture and suppressing weeds, as I live in probably the driest part of the UK. I was thinking plastic roll, but there is the problem of dealing with a crumpled plastic sheet with holes in it, dirt sticking to it, and what do you do with it anyway?

I looked on the internet and found www.weedguardplus.com, they have several types of paper (cellulose) rolls, some loaded with nutrients, which looked attractive. as I'm in the uk I looked for a local source and found www.mulchorganic.co.uk. The economic trigger for buying is that it cuts down weeding. It is not waterproof, so lets water down to the soil, but for your problem, apparently slugs and snails dont like crossing it. I suspect this is because the paper is dry except just after rain, and it dries out the slugs if they try to cross it.

I bought a roll of the heavyweight, the calcium loaded, the humic acid loaded and the NPK loaded so I can try them out. The first thing was to load up and use a piece to cover the compost heap. This will tell me fairly soon if it really does reduce evapouration.

So now it is wait and see, but if it reduces weeding it will be great, keeping slugs off will be a big plus. I know cardboard would be an option,but I don't have enough.

 
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