What else? I became obsessed with bindweed, and spent waaaaay too much time pulling the stuff out of my back field. The tomatoes got blighty pretty early on, but I still got lots of them. The slugs were a horror, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about them next year. I spent a lot of time identifying my weeds, which always makes me feel happy (and I became my neighbor's local plant expert - they would come to me with strange clippings and flowers, and I would do my best to impress).
The cold and snow came on quick - I've got all this mulch I didn't have time to lay down, waiting for me under the snow.
Just recently I started planning my herb business, and this year I'm going to grow seedlings to sell, and then to plant in the gardens, so that by next year I can be making products. Below is the inauspicious beginnings....
Jessica Gorton wrote:The slugs were a horror, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about them next year.
^^^This. I couldn't believe how bad they were here - maybe it was just this last year? If it's always like that, it's going to be quite a trick getting any annuals to grow whatsoever. At this point, our main plan of action is ducks - if you can't beat them, just turn them into duck food Eggs, meat and fertilizer are just the icing on the cake, right? We already had planned to bring the duckers in, but with the slugs as bad as they were it gave a bit more urgency to the whole thing.
Really itching for spring at this point. How's the snow been down your way? We're up to about 4 feet on the ground now, just about where we were last year at this time...and seems like it all came down since the end of January. Was so glad they lowered our snow forecast to only 18" for this weekend's blizzard - noticed they upped the winds a bit though
I've read through your master plan and I'm impressed by how well you've managed your garden. Those hubbards and canned goods were particularly beautiful.
Sorry I can't help much on the slug issue. My idea would be to find a mulch that they don't like to crawl on, an aromatic, or texture, or something.
Sometimes when we experiment Nature works things out in her own way, so keep a camera handy.
Good luck for 2015!
Looking Great! Keep up the great work! I really love to see more and more land regenerated by caring, thoughtful people such as yourselves!
It makes me feel extra warm and fuzzy that you're doing it here in Maine!
Our free range Muscovy ducks, and paddock shifted and tractored chickens took care of our slug problem here in central Maine (Maine's Awesome!!).
Also the addition of a garden frog pond within the garden that is filled with rain water and wash water from our veggie sink in our attached greenhouse was a great help as well as creating toad houses every chance I get amongst the perennial border surrounding our kitchen garden. Toads can eat a lot of slugs. The ducks and chickens patrol the perimeter around our fenced in kitchen garden while the snakes, frogs and toads help take care of the slugs within the garden. We let the ducks in to the kitchen garden late fall and early spring to forage for slimy treats. In the rare occasion when we do find a slug or snail in the garden we just chuck it into the adjacent chicken yard/ compost pile and let the Rhode Island ladies take care of 'em. I also choose to frame our (20) 3'x15' raised beds with 1"x8" hemlock which not only helped control slugs it drastically reduced the amount of "weed" pressure on our annual veggies. The hemlock frames allowed me to keep our 1' paths between beds and still cultivate right to the edge of the path with less plants leaning over the paths because the beds now have straight sides. Mounded raised beds with 4'+ wide walkways between are great, mounded raised beds with 1' walkways between are not so great and its hard to keep the sides of the mound productive, "weed" free, and from slipping into the walkway. Before we framed them we only had 2'x 14' (28 sq. ft) of "effective" growing area per bed, when we framed them we increased the "effective" growing area to 2'10"x14'10" (42 sq. ft). The frames also created structure to mount quick hoops made from 1/2" emt with pipe straps screwed to the frame. The hoops are pushed into the ground 12" or so below the frame and can easily be removed by just sliding them up out of the pipe straps.
Even though I am not fond of floating row cover we have used it as a very effective alternative to slug attracting mulches, we only mulch onions and garlic with straw the rest of the garden gets mulched with top dressings of chicken yard compost (kitchen scraps w/ homemade bokashi grains, wood shavings from brooder bedding, shredded leaves, newspaper and cardboard, "used" potting soil, weeds with immature seeds, char, small diameter woody shrub cuttings, and pruned green leaves including cannabis, comfrey, yarrow, dandelion, horestail, rhubarb, clovers, nettle, and elecampagne.) and covered with floating row cover over the hoops, the covers are opened periodically for pollination and/or to attract beneficials.
You may find some effective control using slugs in a biodynamic broadcaster unit - read about it in Secrets of the Soil by Christopher Bird and Peter Thomkins.
Our biggest "pests" now are mice and voles which have vacationed over winter within our low tunnels. Our cat is a very efficient hunter but only gets one or two a day, might need to get a couple more kitties. I will continue to trap the rodents and feed them to the chickens. If this doesn't have a large enough effect I will biodynamically ash some rodents around the production parts of our landscape.
Here's to a fruitful future!
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