Vanisle_BC
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Mulch & slugs

This could be subtitled "What to do with all these leaves," but firstly: what are the best mulches for keeping down weeds and holding moisture in the soil BUT NOT encouraging slugs?

We have tons of leaves - maple, plum & grape - and I've been using them as mulch but slugs just love that. They're steadily demolishing the young coles I've planted out. Last year I scooped some 'roadkill' straw that must have fallen off somebody's truck and I put it on one of my beds. It seems much better: No evidence of slugs although nothing's planted there yet. Time will tell. What do others think is the ideal mulch? We aren't bothered by small rodents and the like.

As for the subtitle, what to do with all these leaves? I shred them as much as I can which is not much. The mower does its best and I don't want to buy a shredder. I don't like to put a lot of leaves in the compost as they get matted and are hard to separate. According to what I've read, making leaf mold is a several-year process (and there's a new batch of leaves every year!)

Ideas? Experience?
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pepperhead212
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Re: Mulch & slugs

Before I planted my greens, I generously sprinkled Sluggo on the ground; same thing on the garlic row way back before I planted those, before putting a thick layer of leaves. I just put another layer of leaves on the garlic,
which is 12" by now, after sprinkling with some more sluggo. The first layer, that was over 4" thick in the fall, was about 1/2" thick by then. The sluggo is organic, and works great against the slugs.
Dave

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Mulch & slugs

Sluggo - I've seen the name but stayed away from it on the assumption it was a poison, and therefor something to be avoided. I'll look into it further; sure would like to get rid of those hungry little slimeys!
The terms of political discourse are not models of precision. - (Noam Chomsky)

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digitS'
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Re: Mulch & slugs

I don't have a good answer, VanIsle. It is no surprise to me that you have slug problems, considering your location. Even here, with less than 20" /annual precipitation, I cannot plant tomatoes too close to lawngrass without expecting lots of slug damage. (I blame "wetside" invasions :wink:.)

In the greenhouse and hoophouse, I put down slug bait. A big, European slug can do a lot of damage in tiny seedlings. That bait won't work real good outdoors because the garden is likely to need irrigation or receive rain every few days. The iron sulfate slug bait melts into the soil.

And, my garden IS bothered by small rodents and large. Mulch has not worked so well for me and I use very little. I'm wondering if you would find pine shavings to be okay for your purposes. You would have to be careful not to mix too much into the soil to avoid the binding up of nitrogen. Available leaves could play a role in long-term composting. I incorporate quite a lot of soil in my composting. And, have incorporated quite a few months in some of the compost piles, as well. That's a way to deal with leaves.

Now, you need a response from those gardeners with more successful mulching experiences.

Steve
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Mulch & slugs

Thanks, Steve. I've never lived in a place with 20" annual rainfall. Sometimes feels as if we get that in a week - always the week when there's something that must be attended to, outdoors. Anyway a bait that's soluble wouldn't be real appropriate around here :(. I've never had slugs on my tomatoes but they are in a bed raised 18" and covered from the rain.

I used to have those big black slugs but eventually got rid of them. I would go round every morning and collect them from the 'lawn' - i.e grass; sometimes as many as 200 at a go! I would wing them over the deer fence onto the gravel road alongside the property and I don't think any ever came back :). After a couple of years I didn't see them any more; probably snakes got rid of the last few, and for several years I was slug-free. Now I'm getting the little pinkish white ones. They do a lot of damage for their size. And I'm getting too old to relish going out in the cold wet night with a flashlight to hunt them.

You said you "have incorporated quite a few months in some of the compost piles" which looks like a slip of the pen, tongue, mind, whatever? At any rate I'm not understanding it - ???

Meantime thank goodness for the indestructible garlic!
The terms of political discourse are not models of precision. - (Noam Chomsky)

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applestar
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Re: Mulch & slugs

I’m knocking on wood and crossing fingers trying not to jinx my garden, but it feels like I have seen less and less slugs here.

I don’t know if it was because I did use sluggo liberally for a couple of seasons and also hunted the slugs aggressively.

I don’t know if it’s because I stopped.

It might be because I’m seeing more fireflies/lightning bugs returning to my garden. But that is a precarious situation due to some entrepreneurial mosquito control company that has been advertising everywhere around here.

Or because there has been an explosion of tree frogs and other frogs since I built my pond and after accidentally killing the fish, decided to let the frogs take over (and stopped putting bullfrog tadpoles from the pond garden center but let the local frogs take over.)

Or maybe it’s the snakes, or the birds.

I’m afraid to use slug poison - even organic - now, and keep looking for more info. This one covers most concerns —

Sluggo gets OMRI seal of approval
https://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/go ... 648828.php
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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digitS'
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Re: Mulch & slugs

VanIsle,

What I mean by "incorporating" many months is: I have built compost piles continuously over an entire growing season. After capping it with soil, it has sat for a winter, through another growing season, and through another winter -- before I made use of that compost. Nothing had been in that pile for less than 18 months.

Weeds might show up as the pile sat and they were pulled. The material wasn't turned but had all those months to decompose. It really was a lengthy but worthwhile process. It did require a considerable amount of room. Since this is a semi-arid climate, the compost piles had to be where water could be regularly applied. In other words, taking up gardening space.

Steve
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

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kayjay
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Re: Mulch & slugs

Hi Vanisle. I don't have much to add, just that I tried the cup-of-beer trick with slugs and it was just a criminal waste of beer. I now use Slug-B-Gon, which appears to be the same as Sluggo - Canadian version. Ferric Phosphate. I'm not even sure I need it any more - I attracted the slugs by using newspaper as mulch a few years ago. The Slug-B-Gon took care of them very quickly. I used it the next year as a precaution, and I switched to grass clippings as mulch. No evidence of slug activity since then. A couple of years, I think?

YMMV, of course - I have the conditions for which mulch isn't a big deal. My plants barely get enough sunlight, and I have enough free time to water as needed.
KayJay
Toronto 'burbs, zone 5b

My Garden, 2020

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digitS'
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Re: Mulch & slugs

digitS' wrote:... The iron sulfate slug bait ...
Oops!
kayjay wrote:... Ferric Phosphate. ...
kayjay is correct. I should have done a Google search.

:roll: Steve
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Mulch & slugs

Thanks all for your input. Like you Steve, I don't do 'active' compost making. The piles don't get turned often if at all; just disturbed a bit when I bury a bucket of kitchen waste. They're pretty dry in summer but the other seasons take care of that. A lot of grass clippings go on them and it heats up PDQ.

After reading the link from applestar's post I'm even more reluctant to use slug bait. Kayjay, did you use it together with newspaper or were those separate approaches? I wonder if the beasties will reappear after a while, under your grass clippings. I assume that, spread as mulch, those don't decay fast like they would in piles?
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