Different places I've lived all seem to have a different protocol with mulch. (I have lived and gardened in severe-winter, year-round moderate rain Michigan, mild winter, variable rain Georgia, monsoon Bangladesh (winter dry, summer wet) and Mediterranean California (winter wet, summer dry). Mulch around small seedlings and new transplants in ALL of these climates brought risk of insect damage. Most everywhere, transplants were often ringed with something (tin cans with bottoms and tops cut off, plastic containers likewise, sections of bamboo or banana stalk, etc.) against ground insects, especially when planting into mulch. With direct seeded stuff I would ordinarily draw the mulch away until the plants were well "up" and less likely to be damaged. In some climates mulch is often a problem even for larger plants. I am finding that to be the case here, mostly because I irrigate with drip irrigation, and if I bury the hoses in mulch, rodents are much more likely to chew through them, and it also becomes a habitat for large numbers of insects. Ducks are the classic permaculture solution, and they might find a place for you too.....
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
posted 6 years ago
I have a lot of slugs and snails, but they don't actually seem to eat much. Gee, good for you, you say
I mulch very heavily: not mulching my sand dune is not an option...
One thing I've noticed is that bought seedlings are at far more risk of being eaten-
I assume it's something to do with them growing fast and weak in greenhouses.
Have you tried beer traps? they actually work!
I think your idea of covering with plastic is a good one, as in changing your tactic. I started this year on a abandoned allotment and did a real thin version of sheetmulching. (https://permies.com/forums/posts/list/160/21211#250961) Result: less chaos, but still chaos. For me, it was just a test and my conclusion is that mulching works good on existing garden soil, but not to turn wild weeds into garden soil. The weeds are just too strong. Remember that Ruth Stout did conventional gardening for many years before she started mulching with hay. There was much less weed to supress with the hay...