1957Re: [pfaf] my HUUUUGE problem with S L U G S. Help!!!
- Dec 2, 2007It will have to be a multi-pronged assault unfortunately. Like plugging
holes in a leaky dam with your fingers.
That said some precautions as well as preparations I think can give success.
From experience with a grower near Hebdon Bridge, near Halifax, in the
Yorkshire Pennines, where climate is something comparable, to say the
least, much success has been gained by rearing plants in a nursery till
quite large, on tables. We have extended this model and started to
include shelving units as well as tables. And you can take further
action by placing the legs of these tables in deep troughs of water
and/or wrapping copper wire around the legs. Though be sure to keep the
grass down around shelves especially as it can easily grow above above
these first-line defences. We raised much of our brassica crop into 2l
pots before planting-out and they have survived into maturity (though
are still affected by slugs).
Both in the nursery and in your plantings there is no substitute for
healthy, vigorous plants. With well supplied fertile planting media the
final objective, whether in your soil in containers in the nursery. I
would recommend the widespread application of rock dust,
It will be more economic to apply this product to growing media/composts
in the nursery than in your beds. Though a one time high-level dose of
rock dust is worthwhile, and if you operate a no-dig system, with
widespread use of deep-rooting companion/fertility plants, you should
never have to make again. Bearing in-mind though that the object is
raise healthy plants (in a healthy soil) that well disposed to resist
predation (by slugs or whatever). I remember well a garden I visited in
Asturias, Spain, a very maritime, mountainous region with much rain and
clay. The example that sticks in the mind is of one particularly mangy
looking brassica bed, in dry panned earth. However what was most
interesting about this bed was that only one of these plants was badly
effected by slug attacks. So I like to think of these beasts as a little
more discerning than perhaps they are painted.
In addition to this there are nursery container technologies that
promote healthy plants by encouraging root development and virtually
eliminating the issue of circling roots. One brand is called
Rootrainers, they are expensive but do represent a real advantage in the
critical early months as well furnishing you with sturdy plants ready
for the onslaught.
There is always something going-on at the microscopic level that we are
seldom sensitive to. With this in mind, I'd like to suggest some other
techniques for building soil life, or "a healthy Soil Foodweb". Which
some feel now, is the key to healthy plant systems. Much more than the
more widely accepted soil chemistry model. That minerals and other plant
"foods", and their availability, is governed much more by soil
microbiology. So nurturing soil micro-organisms (MOs) (and culturing
your own) is one route to improving soil and plant health.
I offer two complementary methods to realise this aim, without a degree
in biology and simple materials:
_Effective Micro-organisms (EM)_:
-laboratory-isolated and cultured complementary group of MOs easily
multiplied and prepared for garden application at home
-also very effective at processing pure kitchen waste (cooked food,
meat, fish the lot)
-a renewed interest in ferments, as an analogy for beneficial soil
processes -NB no "bad smells" in the compost or in the soil.
_Actively Aerated Compost Teas_ ("Biobrews")
-home-prepared soil-plant "feeds"
-can be applied to leaves and soil
Books: /"Teaming with Microbes" /by Jeff Lowenfels
Yahoo group: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/compost_tea/
The other much overlooked and vitally important soil process is that of
mycorrhizal fungi and their beneficial associations with plants. Their
absence is almost guaranteed in a clean cultivated environment, yet they
improve plant vigour significantly by extending root run, as much as
100x; allowing further and more efficient gathering of nutrients and
water by the plant, and in some cases by actually physically protecting
the plant roots from attack, in this case by "snaring" parasitic
nematodes while they forage in the root zone, looking to invade the
roots thus weakening the plant. This phenomenon can apparently be seen
in /Private Life of Plants/ BBC documentary series. Needless to say the
action of these organisms will serve to weaken a plant making it more
susceptible to slug damage.
You can either make your own:
Or buy a product e.g.:
and then make your own.
But remember they can't survive without living host plants (symbiosis).
The bottom-line here is that balanced ecosystems are not prone to the
kind of explosive or destructive nature of slugs etc. The above measures
promote health and balance in the garden.
As for other techniques aimed directly at slugs: I have had good results
with nematodes ("Nemaslug"). The main draw-back is the nematodes don't
keep once the packet is open. One pack does 100 square metres. So my
advice is to have enough plants to plant the whole area in one go. Or at
least to have 100m2 worth of beds prepared for seeding. We had good
success with direct seeding after nematode application also.
I had satisfactory results with the organic slug pellets "Advanced Slug
Killer". Best price B&Q. However they do end-up being an expensive
solution as you will have to re-apply. They also seem not to be suitable
for use with containers in the nursery, especially in the greenhouse, as
they seem to act as a vector for fungi which seem to proliferate off
them and all around the young seedlings, not good.
Another option is copper tools. I have no experience of this directly
but there seems some interest in these. They are expensive but from what
I have seen, well-made.
The beer traps info provided by a previous respondent is useful. To this
I would add, though perhaps implied earlier, that is very important to
raise the level of the entrance holes above the soil. This will stop
other creatures (beetle especially) from being drowned also. Also
consider making the holes quite small, as I found a shrew in one of my
traps last year.
All these ideas, unfortunately, equate to more work and more learning.
You might be lucky, one of these solutions used judiciously may give
good results. Perhaps Nemaslug is the best candidate, but again you have
to have things in place to make best use of its potential.
Hope this helps.
All the best,
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Griselda Mussett wrote:
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Ducks also eat your precious plants, or walk on them, and they leave
> their slippery and smelly mess around too, so for a small garden (in my
> opinion) they would be as much of a menace as slugs. We had them at my
> parents' smallholding when I was a kid and I agree they like staying
> round the house. So it's very easy to walk the mess inside on your own
> shoes. It would be sad to see them penned up all the time.
> On 1 Dec 2007, at 18:17, Clarke Editing Services wrote:
> > .. .. there's one type of duck
> > >
> > > which sort of hisses rather than quacking, but I cannot remember
> > its name.
> > >
> > >
> > That would be the Muscovy -- a South American tree waterfowl. Very
> > easy
> > to keep. Doesn't need a pond either, just a little pool of water. Even
> > without clipping their wings they tend to stay around your house.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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