Posts Tagged ‘Slug Control’

bill-mollisson

Bill Mollison – Australian Permaculture Pioneer

” You do not have a Slug Problem, you have a Duck Deficiency! ”
– Bill Mollison

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I must apologise for my regular followers for not being active on this blog over the last few months, I was granted an Allotment by my council and as I received it quite late (March/ April), being close to planting season, I had a lot of work to do to get the plot into a reasonable state and hence, most of my free time has been there. I will in the future, share the design on what I did and am doing on the plot.

It’s been unfortunately, an awful summer in regards to sunshine / warm days and temperatures here in the UK, after going outside today for a mini harvest and finally harvesting my First courgette for the season! plus some runner beans, I have made a couple observations which may be something to keep in mind with these weak summers we seem to be experiencing lately these last few years…

1: Since we had a very wet start, slugs were a huge problem this year, I realised a little too late that ideally, the plant that should probably be germinated first (if you have the space to bring them on until planting out) should be your marigolds (Tagetes) as well as any other ‘Slug Magnets’ such as perhaps Pansies and Violas (both related) – give your slugs and snails a multi buffet and there is a higher chance they will leave your seedlings alone.
Ideally, and I do stress this as I have now experienced and can confirm the huge benefit of having a Pond in your garden for the purpose of Frog habitat. This is my first year with a pond both in my Allotment (Did I mention yet that I now have an allotment?) as well as at home, I noticed a huge difference in slug / snail damage due to this.
Perhaps plan to germinate a few more plants of each of the species you noticed were devastated by slugs and snails this year during next years germinating season

2: Looking at the site today, I can recommend to anyone in the UK if you haven’t done so yet, cut off any new flowers on your tomatoes and as well as the growing tips now, I cannot see any chance of new flowers producing any sizeable fruit which would ripen in time, honestly this is even a little too late to say this but I had some hopes the weather would improve, unless of course you have a good site which gets 10 or more hours of sunshine a day then you could take a risk …

3: Start preparing early for winter crops, I highly recommend growing salads, kales etc..for winter harvest or early Spring harvest – I have built my second Polytunnel with experience through trial and error from my first polytunnel (partially from scavenged poles/ bits from first tunnel and nice large planks from raiding a construction skip) I will at some point post the design for you to follow, you can now start scavenging from skips (Construction Dumpsters) for free timber, plastic PVC conduit pipes etc. if you want to build a polytunnel as a DIY project.
I do recommend building them as DIY projects as in permaculture, we try our best to reuse and repurpose / recycle whatever we can, also, most polytunnels although great in size, have a zip roll up door and these are very unreliable!! rather make a door with hinges on a design like mine.

4: This is the second year of making Comfrey Compost Tea from my one Comfrey (Bocking 14) plant, these plants get really – really huge in the second year and are a very important addition to the vegetable garden, one plant should suffice but if you have the space, go for a second if needed! My plant completely smothered my fruit bush bed (Raspberries, Loganberries, Red Currants, Strawberries and Gooseberry) I ended up having to chop the whole plant again after making the compost tea twice already, the plant practically filled my 300 ltr compost bin.
I left the plant to expand as it did because due to the weak summer, this was the only plant supplying the bees with a good reliable source of nectar – proving how invaluable perennials are in any system, not just a permaculture system…
If you are going to obtain the Bocking 14 variety (bred / selected for the traits of non self seeding and great for being a biomass source which can be chopped several times a year), be aware you will need to control the root crowns by chopping (dividing with a spade) once every year after the first summer (if in an urban garden etc)
Note: In the near future, I may include an online shop section on this site, I will most likely sell Comfrey bocking 14 Crowns so keep an eye out if you are in the UK or Europe

5: This is the first year that I started collecting leaves in summer … sound a bit weird? well, Evergreen trees actually do shed leaves, in spring / early summer, evergreens shed their older leaves once newer growth has already pre-placed it, after emptying one of my compost bins prematurely, I needed to start filling it again ASAP, every week or so I took the time to visit the same places near my workplace as well as home to fill some smaller bags with these brown leaves to counter all of the fresh greens (including all veg and fruit scraps) that goes into the average compost bin weekly during summer.
Both of my compost bins (one at home and one on the allotment) started freshly emptied in the early summer, but with collecting browns as much as possible weekly from evergreen shedding, both bins are practically half full and I do not collect grass cuttings to fill them with as most home owners do! …

6: Now is a great time to make a deal with your local tree surgeons to dump a load of woodchip for you – woodchip at this time has leaves included in the mix and this helps decomposition, have an area in your garden / site where you can bag up all of the chips and let sit for next year, be sure to moisten it and mix in a little bit of soil  / compost or manure. Newly cut woodchip will cause ‘Nitrogen Lock’ which depletes the nitrogen from your soil, hence why it’s best to bag it up and let sit for 6 months or a year before applying. If your intention is for creating /covering walkways then this will not be needed and you can practically lay it down immediately.

7: Please Please learn new things, don’t be scared to go against the norm! Don’t feel embarrassed if someone gives you advice if they haven’t been into gardening or growing food as long as you have!
With the advent of the internet, many young motivated individuals (also older ones) are amassing much knowledge from the countless hours they are and have been spending online researching. I am referring to the old guys who have had plots on my allotment site for well over 10 years now (think of how many more thousands of people there are countrywide just like them?) , although they are quite nice people and often listen to what I advise, they simply cannot follow any of it! We have one guy who’s plot gets flooded basically every year and still refuses to build raised beds despite other plot holders just a few plots away demonstrating the benefits of raised beds – he perpetually loses crops and has developed a regime of multiple seed sowing in the greenhouse at home to counter the problem …
Then there’s the guy who practically Carpet Bombs his plot every day with slug pellets (would you like some beans with that formaldehyde sir?) despite knowing about frogs, beer trapping and laying plastic sheeting down as a habitat to catch them under. He also still went out and bought a few bottles of Tamorite Fertiliser Liquid after I pointed out that there are many comfrey Bocking 14 plants on some old derelict plots where there are no tenants – And explained how to make comfrey tea to him in detail, which he showed a huge interest in. Consumerism is a cancer on these people I feel

I will be posting a series of articles on Wildlife Ponds, although these ponds may be slightly more relevant to the UK, you can still use the same concepts and tips no matter where you are!

pond frog

Frogs in a Pond, make excellent Slug Terminators in a Permaculture System

This is article #1, further below I will update with links to future articles in the series so please keep an eye out and follow the blog, out of all of my mini projects in my mini garden over the last year or two, this has been the first which really excited me and is keeping me very interested and motivated, I guess it is the multiple benefits which a pond can provide which make it such a worthwhile project, that I am already figuring out little ways to extend the size of the pond and plants which I will place into  the system, all of this will be shared in the future once complete …

Quick Update on my own mini pond and it’s progress, the pond is in place, filled with water, pebbles and some duck weed as an interim substitute for the pond plants I intend to obtain in the coming weeks. I am specifically concentrating on only British Native species for the reason that they are more friendly to local wildlife and the ecosystem in general. A net was made from chicken wire just in case any herons or blackbirds decide to fish for frogs, today I got hold of what I hope is ‘Iris pseudacorus’ which is a native Water Iris, I should be able to give a true identification once it flowers in June. Now I await for my trusted ‘Pond Plant Nursery’ to sell me their winter recovering Oxygenating plants and others which I am adding into the design, Oxygenators are important especially if the pond is ”still” meaning without a water feature such as a fountain or waterfall. Never hesitate to find a specialist like I have, they should normally be more than happy to help out with advice depending on your pond size, mine is almost a micro pond if there is such a category?

Below are a few pictures I have obtained from other online sources, The last image is one I would like you all to look at and decide for yourselves, why that particular pond has a few issues with it which may be inhibiting frogs rather than promoting or helping them, just use your common sense and in the coming days I will post what I know is wrong with it based on the picture.

Click on each picture above and it will open in a larger viewing window

perma ponds - wrong doings

In the last picture above, take a look and see if you can find at least 3-4 issues with this pond which are inhibiting the frog / wildlife ecosystem, I will post the exact same photo in a few days highlighting the issues and discussing further!

Click HERE for a previous post with a nice video explaining 6 great benefits to having a pond system

I have decided this year to add a pond into my system, I have a small back garden so the pond will have to be quite small as well, my main goal is firstly to keep frogs as Slug Terminators! I have a supply of Frogs / Frog spawn which I can make use of and then there will be the added benefits that usually come with ponds / water systems in a garden, here is a very precise video explaining 6 great reasons why you should have a pond (even if just a small one) installed in your garden.

Keep an eye out on my Growingarden Permaculture Blog for any updates on my pond design and how it all goes on through the year and years ahead!

Hi everyone, I really hope your growing season is going well for you all !

just a quick update that I still have another 3 Slug Trap fill up’s ( top up’s ) to go from my 12 can cheap beer pack I bought for Organic Slug Control / Traps. I have stopped counting the slugs if you remember in post #1 I trapped 20+ Slugs and the number boomed to 60+ in the second round of trapping the following week!

'' Slugnatomy '' anatomy of the vegetable loving slug

” Slugnatomy ” anatomy of the vegetable loving slug

I literally had to stop counting as I’m sure the number increased a load the following week or two, I can now confirm that the number of slugs or snails trapped are diminishing and that can only be good news! The Cull is almost over (I intended to stagger my slug trap refilling by trapping one week on and one week off To give time for new babies to hatch in between).

It has been dry lately so a new tip I came up with is to shower the area around the traps at night so that incase of dry spells the little buggers will have moist surface to slime across gleefully on the one way trip to the slug pub …

Later on in the year,perhaps closer to Autumn I intend to make a final post with my opinion and observation/s regarding this method and the tactic’s I employed, lets observe over summer if I can notice a difference in the damage caused once everything is planted outside, keep an eye out on this blog in the future …

This is a quick ”Part #2” in the Beer Trap Article, I am writing this merely to give info. on the recent ”body count” …

” Slugnatomy ” anatomy of the vegetable loving slug

So, In the main article of ” Slug Control and Prevention: The Beer Trap ” I may have mentioned that I initially put out four traps and a couple days later increased this to 7, then 9 once more plastic bottles became available. At around the 7 mark I emptied the beer and conducted a body count, with 20 results and zero other organisms.
Just last night after work, I decided to go ahead again and replenish the bait and conduct another count, it has been warming up recently here in southern England so I was half expecting to find a few more smaller ones, from the 9 traps came  …

WOW!, 61 Slugs, 1 Snail and 5 other organisms namely; 4 Wood Lice and 1 Red Wiggler Worm.

It’s Working!!

Slugs Trapped in Slug Pub

Slugs Trapped in Slug Pub

New Observations:

After twice emptying the traps, I feel that smaller bottles with smaller holes seem to have a bigger bounty (little kids yogurt bottles are excellent!)

  • I wonder if the fermentation takes longer to spoil and so the traps remain viable for a little longer? or
  • Did I just place them in locations that happened to have a bigger population nearby?,
  • Is it because they are smaller and closer to the ground level that slugs find them easier (Smell)?

Either way, they have outperformed all of the bigger bottles by far!

In conclusion: 2x cans of beer which cost me £1.08 have bagged 82 pests (Slugs and one Snail) with zero spent on materials as everything is re-purposed plastic bottles which, in the end will be Recycled once they have worn out their use.

As much as I would prefer to have Slug Control work by merely trapping them and deporting them away from your property, there are other methods which may be needed to really turn the tables in your favour if you really have a slug problem whereby removing them doesn’t seem to work…

'' Slugnatomy '' anatomy of the vegetable loving slug :)

” Slugnatomy ” anatomy of the vegetable loving slug 🙂

Slugs can and do come back soon enough if only shifted 20 or so feet away!

I am currently experimenting with a Beer Cull, I have used beer traps before over the years but read recently that an effective way to manage a beer trap system is to set the traps regularly over a period of time in order to Cull the population back to a lower, maintainable level.

As I would prefer to spend as little money as possible, I decided to go shopping around for cheap beer … Morrisons sent a nice little ”Deals” advert through my letterbox offering a case of 10 beers for £7! this was it, until I realised that a quick pop over to Aldi or Lidl would be beneficial before going for the morrisons deal … I was right!
Lidl sell a case of Carling Lager containing 12 x 440ml cans for ONLY £6.50, at this moment I am able to set 6 small traps and 2 large ones based on the below design with One can’s worth of beer (440ml):

Diagram of a DIY Wildlife Friendly Beer Trap

Preferred Method:

If your beer is 4% Alcohol >, then dilute it with 50% water to help the fermentation, Don’t fill the bottle just go based on the above diagram. If your beer is 2%, then dilution is not needed, Guinness and Ales are highly recommended above beer if you can / are willing to get some.
Dig a hole and place the bottle deep, make sure the entry holes are well above ground level, enough so that beneficial insects and bugs don’t go in (It’s harder for them to climb the plastic), but place a stick in there just in case as an exit ladder (The other bugs don’t like the beer and will want to get out).
At this point, and if you have the time – I recommend that each trap is emptied and fresh beer bait placed inside twice a week (2 cans for me). I am going to stagger the trapping so, for one week I will trap and then give a break for another week and so on, this will allow my 6 week’s supply of beer to spread over 12 weeks thereby making sure I am still trapping in the first week of May (Provided I don’t get tempted to drink some of the beer!)

Slug Control Wildlife Friendly Beer Trap in situ

Note: In the above photo, The beer trap should be another inch or so deeper into the soil, it is not a major issue but helps with attracting more slugs, my other smaller traps (in smaller bottles) tend to have many more slugs compared to these two 1ltr juice bottles.

Slug Beer Trap SUCCESS ! ! 20 in first week

Initial conclusion: There was a good success of 20 Slugs in the first week!, given I have been seriously too busy at work and didn’t manage the energy to go outside in the evening one night to empty and replenish the traps, a count of 20 was really welcome! Tonight the fresh traps went out and about half were put into a different area than last week.

Week #2: Excellent score of 61 Slugs and 1 Snail, again it is observed that the smaller traps worked better

Read the Full Update on Week #2 Here.