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hugelkultur roly poly questions

 
Steve Gagnon
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I started my hugelkulture beds this year in Northeast Indiana. Average height of three feet with an assortment  of trees. I used mostly cotton woods. I have watered a lot as the soil keeps settling.
  Here is the Dig please help. I got a load of manure some years ago and have been playing the dickens sense trying to rid myself of the creatures from Hell. Yep My Fault I get that, but here I am trying to do the right thing. I got beetles that love carbon, they love wood or anything fibrous.
  Check this when I pull back the soil I see a hive, like maggots in a fish. These lovely guys get most of what I work for. ARGHH!
  I am sure that I could nuke the place and be done with them, I however would have to eat behind them.
  I have heard them called powder post, yet I think that that is local ignorance. I can't find them online anywhere though I have seen them my entire life. These loveleys look like armadillos without a head or tail. At maturity they are maybe 3/8 of an inch long, maybe a little less. The point is I am done till I find a solution , my beds will not last and I won't get spit.
  How do I get rid of these unwanted gentlemen from the horse barn without priming myself for cancerous growths that polite company doesn't want to see?? Lol any help is good ! Help !
 
ronie dee
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillidiidae

roly poly bug
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Are they actually having a negative effect? I would think that they would just accelerate the transformation of plant matter into soil.
 
Shailor Clark
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If these are roly polies, they will not harm your plants I don't believe.
Infact they will most definitely help break down the soil as Paleo said.

Also they are edible [as they are the land cousins of shrimp]!

Cheers
 
John Polk
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Certainly sounds like a rolly polly (doodle bug).  They will slowly convert the rotting logs into rich soil.  They are totally harmless...every 5 year old child has played with them...take a hand full of them, shake them up and roll them on the patio deck to see who can make them stay rolled up the longest (kind of like the dice game of Ship/Captain/Crew).

   
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Steve Gagnon wrote:
The point is I am done till I find a solution , my beds will not last and I won't get spit.


The wood is supposed to break down.  The bugs are doing you a favor.
 
                      
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They are not totally harmless, as I have seen them dining on my strawberries.  And there are reports of them eating sprouting seedlings.

David 'abeardedOne' Wise
 
Steve Gagnon
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OK rolly polly does not sound latin but I will run with it. These guys aint harmless. They eat my lunch coming and going. They eat easily 2/3 of everything. They especially eat seeds. They also cut across stems and spoil most of my tomatoes.
  I don't want to argue I just want them dead. I am not sure about the whole bridge thing or how that relates to astro physics or chinese checkers
  Any way thanks for your help !
 
Tyler Ludens
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My garden is full of them and they don't hurt anything if conditions are right.  If they're eating your garden something is wrong, possibly soil nutrients out of balance or -  what has been the case for me - not enough moist mulch and decaying vegetation, which they much prefer to fresh vegetables.

Sorry for arguing, but it is not THEIR fault for existing and they don't deserve to be dead.  They are your friends, not your enemies.  They are an integral part of a living soil. 

Permaculture is all about a living soil, as far as last I heard! 
 
Terri Matthews
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My folks had LOT of these in California!

They dealt with it my getting a duck and a chicken, but such animals will ALSO eat strawberries and tomatos!

Can you stake up the tomatos? As I recall, rolly pollies  (or pill bugs or sow bugs) are not much for climbing: they like dark cracks.
 
Tyler Ludens
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My little friends:



You need to stake tomatoes because pillbugs will eat fruit resting on the soil.  The same goes for squash and melons, they need to be set up on a rock, brick, or dry mulch.

 
Steve Gagnon
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Look I get the whole live and let live thing. I don't think I made myself clear here. The bugs are keeping me from having a real garden. I can't plant seeds, cause they eat them. Now I have to buy plants,more money, no tap root (water is the biggest issue other than my millions of neighbors), what I can grow is killed or defiled by these gentlemen.
  As for the long nose look, Hey I get you, but in my situation (trying to be as self sufficient as possible) I view my problem like you would termites in your home.
I got ducks and geese and they will not go into the garden (poop). I have been dealing with this ever worsening issue for 6 years. So please drop the tone. I could nuke them, but I don't want to.
  Maybe the biggest issue here is that GMO is poison. If I can't plant seeds I aint happy.
  I am sorry here I just expected a little more CONSTRUCTIVE input.
  If you can't plant seeds then you are a joke or a hobbyist.  Arghhh. Thanks  anyway for your input I do appreciate it.
 
Steve Gagnon
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Hey sorry for the double tap here. Ludi what you posted in pict is spot on. That is the bug hive. Again they eat all seeds. Poop, big stinky piles here. I am mad as hell. Lol
  I live on a ten acre lake that is shared. Vertical encumberances (tomato cages)are not enjoyed by my neighbors who paid big bucks for their lake lots. As for food ,well I put down 2 inches of alfalfa every year and then one inch of straw. I hear you, I think that I understand you, but it aint working and I am getting sad and worse. I know full damn well that I could nuke them.
  There just has to be a balance here. You may not know it ,but damb it to hell it shall be found.
  Maybe my next pet will be an aardvark?
  Peace to all thanks for the input, signing off as mad as hell. ARGHHH!  And just for the record I aint eating bugs, at least not yet. Mmmm they do look, nevermind.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ok, thing is, I have all these bugs too - that pic was taken this morning in my garden.  They do not eat my healthy plants.  I used to hate and fear them because they DID eat my plants.  But that was not their fault, it was my fault for not providing proper conditions for balance in the garden.  A gazillion pillbugs in the garden is not a sign of imbalance.  Pillbugs eating my plants was a sign of imbalance.

I can only share my own experience.  Your mileage obviously may vary.


 
                            
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In my experience, what you have described about your garden set-up is basically an ideal set-up for wood bugs, as they are called around here.

All the critters can eat in terms of rotting wood and decaying vegetation with additional tasty treats like seeds and succulent new plants. Yum! yum!

What I do in my gardens to avoid over-infestation is to minimize the hiding places like wet wood, logs, mulches especially in the early spring. Hard to do if you're doing hugel.  Heavy use of early transplants to get a jump on growth to outrun the beastie appetite and frequent small plantings, rather than just one or two of various crops perhaps even a few trap crops for search and destroy

AND.  Probably my most effective strategy is to frequently disturb any wood or mulches on the ground so the populations have to scatter.  Into the beaks of a waiting duck flock which get out on patrol several hours each evening and morning when hungry.  

This may sound like some effort but actually disturbing the wood bugs, on a regular basis becomes just part of the daily gardening routine.


Same strategy for the legions of slugs that share the same gardening space.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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I wonder why there are so many of them? I have the same critters in my garden, but just a few. There might be one for every few square inches of ground. I guess I must have less stuff for them to eat on the ground. Now for some solid suggestions: 1. Increase predator habitat. Pillbugs are eaten by frogs, newts, lizards, spiders, etc. A few brush piles, empty pots, or a small pond may help solve the problem. 2. diatomaceous earth, applied liberally, should reduce their numbers.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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I also had minor problems with pillbugs and a population explosion this spring from composting and stuff, but the population took a large dive after I noticed something like a plague had taken hold. They developed whitish, orange spiky growths on their shells, and after a few weeks I started seeing piles and piles of the dead little critters on the soil surface and just a few loners leftover. It must've been due to the high population growth and density. Anyway, I take it as a sign that nature is working and balancing things out. Give it time, should resolve itself. They ate and killed two or three baby squash plants, but those started off smaller and weaker, kind of sickly, compared to the others. The stronger ones were not bothered and have done exceptionally well. Like Ludi mentioned, I believe the pillbugs take advantage of the weak and dying. Last year when I used transplanted plants, I lost many to pillbugs and I suspect it has something to do with inferior plant stock and transplant shock.
 
Jordan Lowery
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i consider pillbugs to be part of my clean up crew. they always eat any fallen fruit that is too ripe. then the chickens come and eat them. they dont bother fruit or veggies that is unripe or ripe for human consumption.
 
Thelma McGowan
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Is the problem just in the hugelculture bed or all your gardens?


 
Steve Gagnon
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This is for Aunty thelma. Thanks to all but this is to her. Thelma I got these things every where. I worry about my house. Yep I have seen them inside, not often but ohhh! not good ! 
  I was working on a project earlier this year with treated lumber. Got busy forgot, whatever came back some days later to find that these monsters had made new homes in scraps laying in the yard. WTF. These guys can eat cryptonite and still be sparky!
  I am thinking nuclear ! Maybe anti matter weapons, maybe  napalm, or maybe the hungry chicken from hell and all his siblings.
 
Steve Gagnon
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Ludi you are a big fat sassy teaser. You tell me you had a problem with them, made a change and now no problem! Hmmmmmmmmm care to share here? Problem/no problem. You left out something, let me see here, Ahhh the solution. I am all ears darling or sir.
  Thanks in advance ! You people crack me up !
 
A Philipsen
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Chickens and ducks like pillbugs, so it stands to reason that there would be wild predators that should as well.  Maybe you have a dearth of natural predators.
 
Steve Gagnon
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Garacie 88 My ducks and geese are freaks of nature. They act as if the lake is Satan and will not go in the garden
 
Tyler Ludens
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Steve Gagnon wrote:
Ludi you are a big fat sassy teaser. You tell me you had a problem with them, made a change and now no problem! Hmmmmmmmmm care to share here? Problem/no problem. You left out something, let me see here, Ahhh the solution. I am all ears darling or sir.
  Thanks in advance ! You people crack me up !


Oh, sorry, I guess I expected you to be a mind-reader like folks do here!  I broke my own "don't force folks to pry out the info" rule.   

Ok, what I did:

- Buried logs in the soil (hugelkultur)

- Included loads of other organic material with the logs (sheep poo, old hay, chicken bedding)

- Mulched a lot with leaves, hay, etc

- Made sure the soil is moist at all times (here, that means irrigating frequently)

That's all I can think of - just, trying to improve the soil with as much organic material as possible and trying not to stress the plants.

(PS - I'm a gal)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I should add - this was not an instant "cure" - it has taken a couple years and the soil is still not exactly perfectly perfect. Some plants still get a bit weak and are quickly taken out of the equation by my little friends.  Maybe they are the doctors of the garden, removing diseased tissue. 

Spraying poisons of any kind will only slow down this process of improvement, not speed it.  Patience and, yes, observation of and acquiescence to the processes of nature (which can be hard for some of us). 
 
Thelma McGowan
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Thelma I got these things every where. I worry about my house


If you have a serious problem in a critical area like your house you have every right to defend your self. have you tried Diotomatious Earth.......(DE) could cripple your plague of creepy crawlies with out too many negative effects.

Why do they like your area sooo much?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Pillbugs get in my house too.  They don't do any damage of any kind.  There's nothing to defend against these harmless critters.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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I noticed that you said you started your beds this year.
Permaculture, and anything related to nature and the natural balance of prey/predator is slow, very slow.

It has taken about 6 years for my place to come to some sort of balance between plant eating bugs and predator bugs.  I have helped it along by scooping up ladybugs from my neighbors house and ordering praying mantis cases on line.  Both of those methods took an entire winter and spring to show any result.

The whole 'chemical free' thing is not for everyone, as much as we would like it to be.  There was a reason my great grandmother started all of her seedlings in an old washing machine raised off the ground - the bugs would eat them otherwise.  But other than my grandpas tobacco spit they didn't have money for pesticides. 

I understand how difficult is it too watch hords of plant eating bugs move in and take over the place.  Problem is, that is supposed to happen. 

If you move in to interfere the cycle that is beginning is disrupted - but if you wait long enough, like two or three years, the predators will come (and you can import a few as well).  But you will always see more plant eating bugs than you want to see. 

I wish I had a fix that would keep my apples spot free, my tomatoes unblemished, and my lettuce free of holes - but that doesn't happen in nature - only in the magazine photo shoots.
 
Steve Gagnon
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Mine is a common problem. critters in the soup. Where is my wand? where is the magic button? I suspect that our combined knowledge or the lack is the problem. I have wondered if a good dose of lime at the right time would stave off my attackers. I am eating well and will continue to do so. My pairing knife is so very familiar now.
  Thanks to all who would bother with a floundering soul as myself.
  I had a knee jerk response today. I stomped on a mole. Hmmm what do moles eat?
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Slugs.
 
Tyler Ludens
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http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mole_%28animal%29

"For many species, a mole's diet is primarily composed of earthworms and other small invertebrates."

Like, for instance, pillbugs.....
 
Rion Mather
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And people were talking to me like I was an idiot. Yes, Steve, I had the same problem and not only did I get excessive amounts of roly polys but other bad bugs as well.
 
William Bronson
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What about tobacco juice?
Or onion juice? Or the juice of whatever it is they won't eat?
How about a mini pond for poly wogs, or maybe they like beer as much as slugs do?
Are millipeds carnoverous?
They always show up in my rich soils, but pillbugs are rare.
Would BSF's be a self extinguishing predator/competitor?
 
Chris Dean
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Old thread here, just adding my 2 cents

These bugs have not been just a minor nuisance in my hugelbed. My first season I scatter planted seeds and they at every single seedling. They have eaten at the base of fully grown plants, sometimes all the way through until the plant falls over. I keep plenty of mulch around for them but they love the live plants.

I use Sluggo plus when I have to, though I don't like to. Usually I only use it for seedlings and seeds. I sacrifice cucumbers for them cut lengthwise and placed wet side down. They love those and in the morning I pick it up and feed it all to my chickens. The chickens has to develop a taste for them, now they love them!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Erin Zosu
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Hello Steve,
Your problem = Pill bugs
Your solution = Properly manage the moisture level of your soils.

Pill bugs like their cousins Sow-bugs like moist wet conditions. Earwigs and slugs also favor wet environments. I know you have a hugelkultur bed and that it needs water in order to decompose, but waiting for the soil to dry in between waterings will be a benefit in altering the environment of you hugelkultur enough to discourage these arthropods.
As far as they getting into your home, this only means that you need better weather stripping on all entry points (doors, windows, utility access points close to the soils surface--seal them off. One more thing, don't plant anything within three feet of the foundation of your home. This allows you sufficient space to walk around your house and clean up any leaf litter or other debris that may have accumulated. Arthropod pests of any kind require three things: food, water and shelter. If you take one of these away they will look for homes and sources of food/water elsewhere.
Good luck.
 
Ollie Taylor
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we call these cheesybobs in my home town. well i'll be damned - i just found out it is ONLY in my hometown

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cheesy%20bobs
 
Chris Kott
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I have always known of these in my garden, as sow or potato bugs. I have never seen them in such quantities as Ludi has shown. Steve, I would love to hear an update on this issue. I think that if I were to find I had a problem this way, I would trap them with the above-mentioned cucumber method, and feed them to my chickens or ducks (I was under the impression geese were largely herbivorous and only ate bugs and stuff if it happened to get in the way). I think the key is training the fowl to food to which they are unaccustomed. Then you could take a shovel or maybe a kitty litter scooper or something and recreate the conditions in which you find them nesting and simply scoop them out to your birds when it's feeding time.

The problem with spraying is the same all over: if you sterilize the area to get rid of a specific pest, you kill everything that is keeping out the other pests. You end up with an open petri dish that needs constant attention until you get fed up and give up on it. Then the pioneer plants take over, clean up the mess the dumb humans made, and balance everything out.

Good luck, Steve.

-CK
 
Eliza Lord
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I was delighted to see this post in the forum and sorry that no one seems to have figured it out for certain. I've had this problem for a very long time and assumed it was a lack of balance but I haven't figured out what it is, yet.

I've tried diatomaceous earth but it doesn't seem to phase them. Likewise, letting the soil dry out between waterings barely slows them down. If I were to let the soil dry out enough to truly get rid of them, I'd also be rid of all my plants. (I've actually let plants die to see if it helped -- as soon as I started watering again, they were back).

I've noticed this seems to be a local problem -- I'm in the Greenville, SC area and I've talked to many gardeners here who have a difficulty with pillbugs. The community garden I help with is also dealing with them, as well as some other major gardens. I've wondered if there is something in our specific soil or climate that causes their populations to spiral out of control. Alternately, I've wondered if there are localized diet preferences for them? When I talk to people in nearby towns or even neighboring states about it, they look at me like I'm nuts. (Incidentally, I do know for certain it is pillbugs doing the damage).

I hugelkultur and compost, so I'm not sure why they don't have enough rotting organic matter and need to supplement their diet with other things. They also seem to favor some types of seedlings over others (and all root vegetables, especially potatoes). They don't tend to bother mature plants unless they can reach the fruit. I've found them pretty high up on tomato plants eating the fruit (along with earwigs, which are similar in their diets/behavior to pillbugs for me). I wonder if the earwigs are negatively affected by the same things the pillbugs are.

My chickens don't like pillbugs. They'll eat them at first but seem to tire of the constant, excessive supply. Can't really blame them.

Wish I had the "plague" that maikeru sumi-e mentioned -- sounds like it could be a cordyceps mushroom?

I think that next I'll try even more hugelkultur and adding a pond (which I wanted for water catchment reasons, anyway) to attract more frogs and toads.

If someone figures it out, please share!

 
Tyler Ludens
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Eliza Lord wrote:
I hugelkultur and compost, so I'm not sure why they don't have enough rotting organic matter and need to supplement their diet with other things.


As far as I can tell from my own experience, they prefer soft rotting green vegetable matter. Not wood, and not compost. So chop and drop green mulch seems to keep them happy. Or kitchen scraps.

 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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