Slugs and a super failure in weed blocking

Looking out in my veggie garden would make most gardeners cringe. The weed problem is really out of control. If I wanted to have a weedy lawn then I would be all set. This is the current state of my garden area.

This summer I collected a large amount of cardboard which I applied to some walkways. I was hoping that if I laid the cardboard down and then straw on top of that it would help keep the weeds in the walkways down. What actually happened was that it rained a lot and in a few weeks my whole walkway was sprouting grass. If I tried to pull sections of the sprouting straw up it wanted to take the whole cardboard pieces up. Before the straw matted down, Lee said that he would hear mice running through it. This was not what I planned to happen! I’m wondering if we are going to need to get a tiller next year, as trying to keep things weed free seems to be a bit past our time and energy limits at the moment.

This is what that straw walkway looks like now. One big weedy mess. I would call this whole experiment a big failure.

With the wet weeds everywhere I seem to be having a great place for the slugs to hang out and party on my winter veggies. I have been applying Sluggo but it doesn’t seem to be helping a terrific amount. I think the slug population is just too large. Either that or all the rain makes the slug bait dissolve too fast. If anyone has a great solution for slug control in a wet climate please do tell me!

The slugs have been trying to munch on the kohlrabi and have eaten most of their leaves. I actually pulled some today and they tasted really good. The snow didn’t seem to hurt them, so I am going to start using them. I have some in the crockpot right now, along with a whole chicken and some other root vegetable.

I’m not sure that my winter broccoli liked the freeze as some of the leaves seemed limpish today.

On the other hand my peas, fava beans, summer collards, rutabagas, and cauliflower all seem fine.

And on a sad note, I used that last of my summer carrots today. They had been nibbled at one end by rodents and at the other end by slugs, but with a little trimming they were still good. Into the crockpot they went. Yummy.

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7 Responses to Slugs and a super failure in weed blocking

  1. Tracy says:

    Slugs are alcoholics. They love beer. Sink little bowls down in the dirt so they are almost level with the ground and fill them with beer. Replace after each rain. or when they become full of slug bodies.

    Put many of them around the bed they are attacking.

  2. Lynn says:

    Who knew that slugs love beer? Wow! Luckily we don’t have a big slug problem here.

    But we did have a major weed issue. I just didn’t have time to weed my garden as much as it needed this summer. Hence, not alot of garden posts this year! Darn weeds! We had more weeds inside the garden than we had outside. It was like every weed possible grew in our nice tilled planted garden.

    At least you are still getting some veggies, despite the weeds!

  3. Lauren says:

    Robin,
    I have had the same thing happen with the straw mulch. Over the years I have developed a system. Buy your straw now, leave it in bails by the garden. It will get soaked by the rain over the winter and all the seeds in the bail will germinate and then die because they are so packed tight in the bail. Then in the spring, cut the strings and throw the “leaves” down where you want to mulch. Even the “grassy” bits on the surface will die because they no longer have their roots going anywhere (I usually make those parts face the ground.)
    The secret to really effective mulching is that it is super thick, dense and it has no seeds in it.
    I can’t say enough good things about mound gardening. I have a post on it. http://thereluctanthomesteaders.blogspot.com/2010/06/how-garden-grows.html It is really the way to go. You can get more food from less space (that means less water , less weeding, less mulching and no roto-tilling) It’s so nice!
    The slugs will be much less of a problem when the weeds are gone, and with a new garden it always takes a couple years before you get the whole ecosystem balanced. We had the worst garden year in Oregon in my 20 years of gardening this summer. Don’t get discouraged!

  4. Leigh says:

    Oh Robin, I had the same experience with straw mulch. That was many years ago so I’ve learned that lesson. Still love the cardboard, but I’m trying to rake enough leaves this fall and winter to be able to use them for a good layer of mulch on next years garden.

    I didn’t realize that was slug damage. I’ve seen it on some veggies, but didn’t realize what it was. I’ve heard the beer works really well. Of course, my chickens have made their way to the garden and probably eaten quite a few slugs. And things I didn’t want them in to. šŸ˜®

  5. Hey,

    Yes, beer. We had slugs everywhere in the spring this year but last year I got A* a ‘Slug Catcher’ whcih was just a box with 3 repositories for beer..and every 2-3 days it was full of slugs. We have a much smaller scale garden so you would have to have more than 1 ‘catcher’ in whatever form it takes. Hopefully next year we will get to make a full garden beside just the raised boxes we have. Also, have started my blog so feel free to peruse..its a work in progress for past posts ( which I am slowly starting to post up ) but at least I keep up with the current happenings!..slowly knocking off projects!

  6. lee says:

    Wow, thanks for all the comments. I’ve been remiss in my job of responding!

    Tracy – I’ve heard the beer suggestion before, but we’ve never tried it. Around here I worry about the rain diluting it too quickly. Perhaps we should just prop a shingle up over top the can. I really need to try this.

    Lynn – I think our weed issues were worse this year too, but yield was better too. We switched to drip irrigation this year, so we used a lot less water and the weeds in the paths were pretty stunted.

    Lauren – That’s a good idea about buying the straw early and breaking up the bales. I really should have bought a small supply of bales out of a field this past year. Buying from the farm store is painful. Our gardening system is kind of mound-based, but I’m always interested in new ideas. We use 4′ wide beds, with 2′ wide paths. I tracked down the book you suggested .. more on that in a future post.

    Leigh – Ah, but that requires raking! šŸ™‚ We haven’t raked since we moved in. I felt a little guilty about it at first (our neighbors are all trying to re-create suburbia in the country), but Oregon weather really encourages you not to rake. It rains all winter, it rarely freezes, and by early spring there’s hardly a leaf in sight as they’ve all composted back into the ground. Oh, you mentioned chickens and slugs. Our chickens hate them! Too slimy I guess.

    EagerGridlessBeaver (former totallyTacoma) – Another vote for beer! Okay, we’re definitely going to have to try this. Congrats on the new blog. I’ll check it out. I didn’t know you guys were living off grid. Wow! That has always been an interest of mine. I hope to set up our current house to be able to operate off-grid if necessary (way down the road project). I’d like to do this as a proof-of-concept for Robin that we wouldn’t be without modern conveniences.

  7. ..hey thanks! yes, I know what Robin means..off-grid has been a challenge..especially the way we have done it. I like to say to people that it is really easy to go off-gird..just turn the power off…hehe..that was the first 6 months in our place..once the power generator is off the power is off..so if we were not doing work it mean headlamps or a car battery with a 12v RV light…a good way to stay motivated anyway! I miss my xbox360 bad…video games were my life before so its been an adjustment putting down the game controller and picking up a hammer instead! the blog is a work in progress..but at least now I am keeping up with the new happenings!

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