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slugs

Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
LOL, Pete ,, hey hey I have had that dream world,,it bites when the dang things bring reality home...
We have been having to find inventive ways to out smart them and even then I do something I know is stupid like putting some tomato seedlings in WOW's,, only to peek in them today and see a couple missing to slugs..All our greens have to be on a table these days, we will be doing some container boxes with copper tape wrapped around them for the cukes which get hit hard.Other seedlings are having to be planted in the greenhouse and get large enough they can take loosing a couple of leaves,taters are being bag planted this year as well so they cannot eat all the seed potatoes and leave the new ones looking like swiss cheese, definitely added work but at least we will have a nice producing garden by June,,One thing I have found is to also take the organic slug stuff out and spread it along the seedlings as you plant them or as the seeds come up..It does save some plants.and cuts back on having to do the entire gardens,, although we have done ours 3 times already. We also do the walk about with the 1 to 10 ration for ammonia and water in a spray bottle and spray a couple times a night it works as a foliar feeding for the plants and kills the slugs right off plus it is not toxic if anything comes along to eat the dead ones..I see our cats have been trying to help with the slug problem this year,, ummmmm they have been eating them and throwing up all over so I hope they get over that soon,, Hope you can find a way to deal with yours we have thousands of square feet of gardens so some methods are just not feasible for us..People who do not have slug problems quite often tell us it is our gardens and the mulches etc,, LOL,, all our neighbors have the same problems as we do and none of them have mulches some of them only have grass and a few landscape plants that get hit but they still have the dang things sliming everywhere just as we do..
We wish you well in the search of surviving the slug attacks..
Mary
Saybian Morgan
volunteer

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
    
    8
Sad news from the frontier, aparently stun guns wern't meant to be used 50 times a night for 3 nights in a row, rip "muscleman 100,000 v stunner" you worked like a charm but I guess the sustainable practices lords disagreed, now my scissors are laughing at me and happy to be back in use.
L. Jones


Joined: Apr 29, 2012
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
Having given over half the garden to chickens at one point*, I think the only way poultry and garden really work together for slug (and snail) control is the "bird moat" around the garden, and I don't know that it would do much at night (certainly not with chickens.) I guess if you figured slug travel speed x hours of darkness and made it that wide or wider...but that will run to a fair amount of space, not that I've measured slug travel speed. I know people who have done this with ducks and chickens, I did not do it myself (too much time and fence, when I needed to quickly get the birds someplace somewhat out of harms way.) The moat concept does not require psychic birds that know where not to step and what not to scratch - they can do their usual scorched earth approach, and any slugs need to cross it. When things wind down (or before they ramp up) you can cover up whatever is growing inside the garden and let them clean up the inside as well. I guess a pig moat should also work from what's been posted, but I have no experience with pigs.

*The theory was that the chickens were going to A: be in a chicken tractor and B: were going to eliminate our annoying red ants (seem to be imported european fire ants.)

In practice, the lack of sufficiently flat terrain meant the chickens were soon waltzing under the edge of the tractor, and while they were quite good with eating the slugs and snails, they never expressed the least interest in ants, even when we dug up a nest in front of them. Once the hawks got interested, free ranging was no longer an option.


Traps (well, really shelter, but if you collect them often enough they are a trap) are another way to get them - A board on the ground will do - they gather under it in the hot sun. Beer (yeast and sugar works as well, or as not well, and is cheaper) traps rarely work for me - a few drown, too many slither in, tank up, and slither out, somewhat wobbly and probably looking for a TV with sports on. Copper wire seems to work for me, but it's tedious, if something gets across it they can avoid it, and you can find pictures of slugs crossing copper, eggshells, coffee grounds, ashes .... most of the home remedies - so your slugs may vary with any approach that's not catching and killing (or eating) them. And then there was the time that the "slug damage" turned out to be chipmunks with a salad fetish.

The idea of putting salt out is one I'd avoid. Some suggest a 1:1 (I see Mary gets results with 1:10, so that's evidently overkill) household ammonia/water spray as a means of killing slugs (go out at night with a flashlight and a spray bottle) but I'm not a big fan of ammonia in the garden, or of things that kill significant "bycatch" - and I have to think that approach would also kill earthworms, not to mention a (likely insignificant number of, unless massively drenched rather than sprayed) certain smaller soil organisms/fungi/etc. that we want. Better than salt, and supposedly good for getting the ones too small to cut (claim you can see their eyes reflecting to know where to aim.) With some of the infestations that are quite out of hand I could see going there, at least as a temporary measure.


Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
Saybian Morgan
volunteer

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
    
    8
The more i read post with suggestions i've tried and failed with the closer i get to a solution that's more demanding but once you get into a cycle it probably really works. I read the power of duck a few weeks ago and it's more detailed than I ever thought, I had no idea it was all done with ducklings and the timing for controls their golden stains, grasses, insects and weeds all within a specific range of the rice's growth really showed me what it takes to get to the point where you really think your doing nothing.
I envy people with flat land who can use animal tractors, the only land I have that's level is in my kitchen, predators almost all can be defeated accept the flying ones and the ones that slither. Until i see a trap or a barrier technique that's got slugs by the 1000's I've given up on even considering it.
What I do have to accept is you can rear poultry as juvenile within a garden setting but they have to range with no parents or flocks as the ducks do in rice culture. In that state their highly carnivorous and are small enough not to damage seedlings and early starts at the time of year when slugs commit act's of plant genocide. Which is right now! summer their minor, winter when the adults break egg cycles their underground and in the fall nobody seems to care. Jeuviniles from 2 weeks old up to 12 weeks are just the ticket in the garden as the plants head into summer and the insects die back your meat is coming into fine condition and you can take them out of the garden before their appetite turns to greens. I'm still tossing and turning over the incubator issue, as one always tries to side on the lines of natural. But I think this week i'm buying one and getting over this hangup because what I've found in nature is as much death as there is life. Fourteen 25 day old lives are snuffed out by a single coyote scare and all the hard work the mother has put in goes out the window. Most of us with a permanent parent flock know those select few have a wonderful long life in exchange for many of their children getting a vigorous taste of life. It's not hard to time the hatching of an army of mini garden defenders with the emergence of mature slugs and their offspring micro slugs.

I wish it were a permaculture solution like tossing around this or that, but if the technique cant work in the macro then let's not pretend it truly works in the micro. As happy as I was with the stun gun for a few days I knew I had really solved nothing as I could never do it over an acre. I don't live in the subtropics with the scale of the garden is so massive that adult's can range in a woody and herbaceous understory, so for the temperate un chicken tractored landscape I think I'm going to settle on taking a page out of akao furuno's book and head towards a comprehensive system of cycles approach and accept I have no solution that will work overnight.
Ash does work to make slugs travel as fast as lightning but all it does is get them to go back into the ground in order to wipe it off then there back up, I've tested it enough times while smoking and looking for slugs. It only works as long as it doesn't rain and how many days can your plants go in that situation, not to mention slugs are only out before, after and during rain.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15216
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Copper tape does NOT control slugs




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Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
paul wheaton wrote:Copper tape does NOT control slugs



Perhaps there is a factory finish on the copper tape which keeps the "slug juice" from contacting the copper. I am not sure and it does seem as if it would be a pain to do the extra step of abrading the surface while it is still on the roll but that may solve the issue or maybe the "copper deterrent" is just an "old wives tale."


"When there is no life in the soil it is just dirt."
"MagicDave"
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
I wonder if DE would work. Has anyone tried using it?
marty weis


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Pacific Northwest near Mt. Rainier
I was thinking it just needs to tarnish and get the green on it maybe? Put your tongue on the clean one, then a tarnished one... IDK if that would make a difference or not, just a thought I had while watching the vid. Sent a mail to Paul about he made me register so I could post it here, hehe. (actualy I thought I was registered) Thanks Paul.

Dave Bennett wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:Copper tape does NOT control slugs


Perhaps there is a factory finish on the copper tape which keeps the "slug juice" from contacting the copper. I am not sure and it does seem as if it would be a pain to do the extra step of abrading the surface while it is still on the roll but that may solve the issue or maybe the "copper deterrent" is just an "old wives tale."


Just because your not paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you...
Jacob Nielson


Joined: Oct 31, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Texas - Zone 8
I don't expect DE would work with slugs. From my understanding DE is most effective with insects that have an exoskeleton.
marty weis


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Pacific Northwest near Mt. Rainier
What about unrolling the spool, attaching it to a drill, and running it back onto the spool between a sandpaper rig? or better yet from one spool to another if possible?

it would be a pain to do the extra step of abrading the surface while it is still on the roll but that may solve the issue or maybe the "copper deterrent" is just an "old wives tale."
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
Paul,
There are videos that show copper tape working as well as it not working..It really seems to depend on the slug itself ,,We go from our personal experience in the gardens....And have seen both...
Slugs are kind of like deer who enjoy plants that they say they will not touch..What we have found is that the smaller slugs do not like to cross the wider strips of copper..The large slugs seem to slime across it much easier some even can reach over the top.I am thinking it has something to do with the amount of heavier slime the large ones produce versus the thinner slime and thinner skin the small ones tend to have...As well as the difference in bodily contact with the copper...
When we suggest copper as a deterrent we tend to suggest a double row about a 1/2 inch apart for container gardening or raised beds....In large gardens it could get quite expensive to even try and add copper everywhere especially with it only working in the 75 percent ratio..At the demo we did a week ago we set up a square foot trellis planter box for cucumbers which does have a double band of copper for the slug protection.We will be doing a year trial on several of these this year in our gardens along with the usual .We used a couple smaller containers last year with copper tape which appeared to work well...The copper tape they sale for slugs has a ridiculous price tag for 15 ft..If people find it works for them and they cannot find a recycled source they can buy the copper stained glass tape at a fraction of the price,, Is it worth the effort or the cost or does one want that much copper in their gardens..We have not went that far because it does not work efficient enough to put out the cash for it.. ...

Dave,
DE is a common slug barrier,, but it only works if it is dry and must be reapplied,,You can get just as good of results with dry unbleached flour or ashes that is reapplied and much cheaper....

We are always game to give a try to anything that may work that we have not tried..Handpicking is not feasible in gardens the size of ours and neither are turning the birds out to do damage and get ate by the predators living in the area..We have one escapee right now doing damage to the plantings,, she is going to have to go....

Mary
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2658
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  71
paul wheaton wrote:Copper tape does NOT control slugs



Cool! When I looked at that vid on YouTube, I saw that it was a response to one of yours! And I appreciate Mary James' observations, too.

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Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
I guess one other thing to point out is I cannot say that I use cheap copper foil tape..
the stuff I use is way thicker then what is shown in the video..that looks more like what I use doing faux finishes for work.. Mine is not something you can just tear off like that it takes scissors to cut it.I also use copper sheeting scraps
In response to the other messages about coatings on copper,, if it is good copper that is not sealed to stay pretty and shiny,,,, acids, fertilizers and all types of things will create a verdigris or color changes based on what your using...Some coppers are clear coated which affect their usage for slugs and artwork or jewelry,,
and some cheap foils or tapes are not fully copper,,some are more like the old school teaching we did with the kids using vinegar and salt soaking pennies then taking the solution and placing nails or screws in it making a copper plated item.. not the same for slug shocking experiments..
Clifford Reinke


Joined: Nov 26, 2010
Posts: 122
Location: Puget Sound
    
    4
This year I am trying out three different mulches; Straw, Seaweed, and fresh wood chips in my zone 1 garden. So far I have found that straw is a nice home for slugs, but both the wood chips and seaweed seemed to have stopped my slugs. It's nice that the two mulches I get for free, (with a little labor), off my own property, are the most effective.


Cliff (Start a rEVOLution, grow a garden)
M Marx


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
I had always thought the copper was supposed to bring an electric charge from the ground and shock the slug?
If that's true, I did notice that the experiment looked to be on a not dirt surface.
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3875
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  80
DE is a pretty effective gastropod killer. It's zillions of tiny, ground-up exoskeletons and as far as I know, it slices them to death.
DE only works if it stays dry. When it stops raining, I'm going to set up 'the feeding-station of death': a rectangular plastic plant-pot 'saucer' with a pile of delicious brewer's yeast in the middle and a ring of DE round the outside. Then I need to rig up a roof to keep it all dry.
Watch out, DE will cut up your lungs. It looks a lot like cornflour and I've always been a bit nervous that in a moment of madness I'll sniff it to find out!
marty weis


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Pacific Northwest near Mt. Rainier
I don't think anyone has mentioned beer in the potting trays? About a half to one inch in each tray (anything with a deep steep lip I guess) in various areas... I think they drown, not for sure. It's easy enough to try
Chris Kott


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
    
    9
Yah, but wouldn't the slugs make the beer taste funny?

-CK
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2
hehehehe ya beer tastes even nastier after slug juice.... and really if your gonna out out to do the beer thingy you gotta put out for the good stuff, as in they really like the older brews with the yeast cultures,,,,, Beer is an okay trap bait if you have a small garden
Leo Horthy


Joined: Jan 12, 2012
Posts: 6
Here are some other "free" methods for slug control. I have not tried any of these myself, but I though I would pass them on anyway.

  • crushed egg shells
  • used coffee grounds
  • anything that is dry and powdered - this will just stick to the slug slime and the slug can't move!
  • Chris Kott


    Joined: Jan 25, 2012
    Posts: 796
    Location: Toronto, Ontario
        
        9
    So would the fact that crushed egg shells and used coffee grounds make up a large part of my weekly compost contributions mean that my compost will be slug bane, or would the composting break them down too much? I still see shell fragments in my soil a season or two after the finished compost is used to layer-compost, and the soil life does as well as any compost to break down the rest of the compost layers. Also, I've been told that the tannins in used teabags and coffee grounds is easily broken down in a compost, but what are the concerns if one is sheet mulching around existing plants? I basically, as I understand many do, just mulch with alternating green and brown layers over time, including kitchen scraps in the green layer, coffee grounds and eggshells included. It hasn't killed my raspberries yet; quite the opposite, as you might imagine. Any thoughts? Oh, and I don't have slug issues as yet (knock on wood), but I do leave a lot of naturalised garden or weed species with big leaves that grow all year long. I think with my mulching as a deterrent (I'm using it everywhere now, in spots with control areas right close to gauge the local effect), as well as an acceptable food source for the slugs with no barrier, I might have already come up with my own effective control. What I really want to do is to plan my garden, a 20'x45' shady raspberry patch with a raised bed and tomato guild, to include a half-dozen small laying hens in a paddock-shift system that would use those slugs to make eggs and fertilizer.

    -CK
    Leo Horthy


    Joined: Jan 12, 2012
    Posts: 6
    Chris Kott wrote:So would the fact that crushed egg shells and used coffee grounds make up a large part of my weekly compost contributions mean that my compost will be slug bane, or would the composting break them down too much?


    Chris,

    My understanding is that you create a barrier with these items - a wall if you will - that the slugs will not cross. I am not sure if they will work together. I think the general idea is you want to mess with the slug's slime and that will stop them in their tracks.

    Hope this helps,

    Leo
    Erica Wisner
    volunteer

    Joined: Feb 10, 2009
    Posts: 744
    Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
        
      89
    Most of my garden experience has been on the rainy side of the Pacific NW.

    Whenever I contemplated trying the 'barrier effect,' I had a hard time figuring out how you kept it from turning into a mini-zoo where the slugs happily roamed inside. We find slug eggs just about anywhere.

    Beer in tuna-fish cans worked OK - you can leave the old slugs in it for a few days, the new ones don't seem to mind. I would put it out maybe once a week in the springtime when things were really tender, and cut down the numbers until the drier weather started to work in our favor. I tried to get a beer dish within about 2 feet of any given plant.

    I only rarely was able to bring myself to use 'bad' beer - for the dollar or two difference, I wanted something I could enjoy having around the house. They didn't seem to mind what flavor, though I did feel that medium seemed to work better than very dark. I could just pour about 1/4" in the dish, leave room for the rain to dilute it somewhat and it still worked. When it got dry enough that the beer would dry up instead of diluting, the slug activity had died down too.

    For a larger area, where hand-picking isn't feasible, and beer is too fiddly:
    We used to lay out a sheet of cardboard every yard or two - the slugs would hide under it, and you can pick them up en masse and scrape them off into your preferred disposal. One family I stayed with in NZ would collect a yogurt-tub of them (well, snails), and then feed it to their chickens the next morning as the chickens weren't active at night when the snails were out.

    Now I'm on the dry side, and still struggling with the notion that there are no slugs here to worry about. None? Apparently not - not only is the moisture too low, but there's also some property of the local soils (volcanic ash and fire-aspected forest soils) that supposedly works a little like DE and keeps down the populations of fleas etc. I have noticed a healthy amount of crickets and beetles, though, so it can't be that awful.

    -Erica


    Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
    www.ErnieAndErica.info
    Charles Kelm


    Joined: Apr 30, 2010
    Posts: 150
    Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
    Copper works great for me, but I don't buy copper tape, per se. I make it myself. I bought a large roll of tar-paper backed copper flashing from Home Depot a couple of years ago. Using tinspips or a stout knife I cut and basically rip a long strip off of this long roll. The roll is about a foot wide, and several feet long. I then use a staple gun to staple the strip to the top edge of my raised beds. I have been getting away from traditional square foot gardening, so it is becoming less relevant for me, but I did want to add a story about my success with copper. I'm on the coast in Western WA, and the slugs are the main pest for me here. I now go out on slug safaris at around 10PM, slicing dozens of slugs in half with a long-handled weeding tool. Yes, I know, I have a duck deficiency.


    Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
    Jp Learn


    Joined: Nov 24, 2012
    Posts: 74
    Alex Ames wrote:
    Dr Temp wrote:i hear gum balls from 'sweet gum trees' work wonders.
    If i find some slugs, will trap them in a circle of gum balls and see how it works.


    I am hedging them out by circling the seedlings due to your mention of sweet gum balls.
    This could be an answer for me! If I was growing huge numbers of plants it wouldn't but
    in the small number of annual seedlings I put out I think it is very fiendish if nothing else.
    I believe if I was a slug I would go elsewhere!

    If there is anything I have in equal abundance as slugs it is sweet gum balls. The photo shows
    slug damage on the marigold but that was prior to today's installation of the "slug solution".


    How'd the sweetgum balls work out?
     
     
    subject: slugs
     
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