Slugs – Not In My Garden!

slugs

No, those are not the size of the slugs in my lettuce at my community garden bed, but the smaller ones I find still creep me out. Slugs are gross, and I have yet to figure out what they are good for. I don’t want slugs of any size in my salad!

I’d been using slightly diluted ammonia in a spray bottle. If sprayed directly on the slugs, it kills them. I don’t spray it directly on the plants, but for the slugs I find hiding inside upside down pots or crawling up the foundation of my house, it’s perfect.

I started using Diatomaceous Earth (which I got at Tractor Supply) to control squash borers. But if it helps with slugs, I’m all for it.

Diatomaceous earth comes in the form of a chalky powder, and is the natural fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. For non-toxic, effective treatment for earwigs, slugs, and other garden pests: sprinkle over plants and around edges of garden beds.

Diatomaceous-Earth

Thanks to the people at Eartheasy.com for permission to reprint this information about slug control.

“Slugs are in every garden, and cause more damage than most garden invaders. Commercial slug killers are available, but they can be toxic to birds and other wildlife, and are less effective after rain, when slugs are most active.

We have found that non-toxic, food grade Diatomaceous Earth (Insect Dust) is effective for slugs, but there are also many other methods available for little to no cost.

Before reaching for the pesticides, here are a few alternative natural, non-toxic methods of slug control:

• Watering Schedule
Far and away the best course of action against slugs in your garden is a simple adjustment in the watering schedule. Slugs are most active at night and are most efficient in damp conditions. Avoid watering your garden in the evening if you have a slug problem. Water in the morning – the surface soil will be dry by evening. Studies show this can reduce slug damage by 80%.

• Copper
Small strips of copper can be placed around flower pots or raised beds as obstructions for slugs to crawl over. Cut 2″ strips of thin copper and wrap around the lower part of flower pots, like a ribbon. Or set the strips in the soil on edge, making a “fence” for the slugs to climb. Check to make sure no vegetation hangs over the copper which might provide a ‘bridge’ for the slugs. Copper barriers also work well around wood barrels used as planters.

• Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (Also known as “Insect Dust”) is the sharp, jagged skeletal remains of microscopic creatures. It lacerates soft-bodied pests, causing them to dehydrate. A powdery granular material, it can be sprinkled around garden beds or individual plants, and can be mixed with water to make a foliar spray.

Diatomaceous earth is less effective when wet, so use during dry weather. Wear protective gear when applying, as it can irritate eyes and lungs. Be sure to buy natural or agricultural grade diatomaceous earth, not pool grade which has smoother edges and is far less effective. Mala note: it’s in the poultry section at Tractor Supply.

• Salt
If all else fails, go out at night with the salt shaker and a flashlight. Look at the plants which have been getting the most damage and inspect the leaves, including the undersides. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the slug and it will kill it quickly. Not particularly pleasant, but use as a last resort. (Note: some sources caution the use of salt, as it adds a toxic element to the soil. This has not been our experience, especially as very little salt is used.)

• Beer
Slugs are attracted to beer. Set a small amount of beer in a shallow wide jar buried in the soil up to its neck. Slugs will crawl in and drown. Take the jar lid and prop it up with a small stick so rain won’t dilute the beer. Leave space for slugs to enter the trap.

• Overturned Flowerpots, Grapefruit Halves, Board on Ground
Overturned flowerpots, with a stone placed under the rim to tilt it up a bit, will attract slugs. Leave overnight, and you’ll find the slugs inside in the morning. Grapefruit halves work the same way, with the added advantage of the scent of the fruit as bait.

Another trap method, perhaps the simplest of all, is to set a wide board on the ground by the affected area. Slugs will hide under the board by day. Simply flip the board over to reveal the culprits.”  That’s when I get satisfaction from getting out my spray ammonia. However, as I said, if the diatomaceous earth works and is more effective, I’m all for giving it a try.

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Guests In the Garden

On Friday, June 14th, we had guests in the garden – more than seventy.

Green Thumb, a garden interest group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club included the Wilson Reading Garden and the St. Michaels Community Garden on their annual Garden Tour. The garden paths were dressed with fresh chips and the beds looked terrific.

community garden 6-14-13

The driving rain that morning was a problem, but these women were all gardeners. They came dressed for the weather, carrying large umbrellas. The ladies arrived in staggered, small groups and Lin Clineburg, Nancy Beatty, Val Kenn Gray and Mala Burt were available in the two gardens to answer questions.

IMG_1873

It was interesting how many of the visitors had not been to either garden. They had lots of questions about the process of creating the gardens, the people involved and how it all worked. They were impressed with the diversity of what people were growing in their beds, and with all the rain we’ve had, the gardens were lush and beautiful. Despite the weather, it was wonderful to have visitors and show off our hard work. All of you should be proud!

color in the veggies

Salad on the Fly and Poop in the Garden

A group of kids from the St. Michaels Community Center come to the Community Garden on Thursday afternoons during the school year. They have two beds they are tending.

Their first job this spring was to get their two beds weeded and amended with LeafGro and composted manure. They learned quickly that gardening is sometimes about getting dirty. They actually seem to like that part.

jr gardeners preparing to plant 2013

On a Thursday in March one of the Master Gardeners worked with the kids and raided some beds that hadn’t been dug up yet for spring planting. The adventuresome kids ate salad on the fly and tried kale, lettuce and carrots that had wintered over. The community garden is a wonderful place to learn about gardening and about how fabulous food tastes when it is just picked.

carrot harvest

That day the kids planted potatoes and onion sets. They learned about the eyes of the potatoes and that the hairy part of the onion set is the roots. Nevertheless, some onions were planted upside down.

One six year old smartly observed the horse manure in a nearby bed. Poop! A teaching moment, the Master Gardener thought, only to realize that she had totally lost the attention of group of kids who now couldn’t stop hooting about poop in the garden.

A Kale Massage

Kale massage is not what you think. This is a delicious salad for your inside, not something to rub on your outside. Kale’s dark green leaves are one of the healthiest greens you can eat.

kale

I first saw this recipe prepared on a TV cooking shows. Aarti Sequeria was making a kale salad. I was thinking tough kale leaves in a salad! Who would want to eat that? The secret is in the massage. The tough center rib of the kale is removed and the kale cut into bit-size pieces. It is then massaged with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and salt. After two or three minutes the leaves turn darker green and soften. The original recipe calls for mango. I have made this salad with oranges, canned peaches, even once an apple because it was all I had. It is one of my favorite salads.

The salad lasts for days in the fridge if you don’t eat it all the first day. I think it’s even better the second day. The kale in my community garden bed is getting big enough to cut. I can’t wait to make this salad. This link even has a video of Aarti making the salad and shows how to prepare the raw kale. At the bottom of the page are many more kale salad recipes. Who knew?

Imagine my surprise to find another kale salad recipe at a recent culinary gathering at the St. Michaels Woman’s Club. I thought I was the only one who knew about massaging kale. This is Karen Thomas’ Kale Salad recipe.

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 8 ounces kale
  • 4 to 5 medium radishes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the pecans on a baking tray. Toast them until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice to make sure they bake evenly. Remove the tray from the oven and set them aside to cool.
  2. Pull the kale leaves off from the tough stems and discard the stems. Use a chef’s knife to chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.
  3. Thinly slice the radishes (this is easier to do if you first chop off the root end so you can place the base of the radish flat against your cutting board). Add them to the bowl.
  4. Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries and add them to the bowl. Chop the apple into small, bite-sized pieces and add it to the bowl as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss until the salad is evenly coated with dressing. Serve immediately, or for even better flavor, let the salad marinate in the dressing for 10 to 20 minutes beforehand.

Even if you think you don’t like kale, give kale salad a try. Kale is also a great fall/winter crop for your community garden bed. We ate kale salad into the spring this year. The kale just got more luscious after a frost.

Garden Maintenance

Garden Maintenance

In any garden maintenance is an ongoing issue. In a community garden maintenance requires people working together. Bridges Landscaping Services delivered a second load of chipped wood to the garden and on Sunday morning five ladies showed up to work. In a little over an hour they had moved all the mulch to the paths between the garden beds. One more load from Bridges should be enough to cover all the open spaces and that maintenance job will be finished for this year.

mulching garden 6-1-13 Bev and Pennie

While we were dumping barrows full of chips, we had to pick up trash from around some beds. Broken rain guages, lots of plant markers, pulled weeds, an occasional stake and a couple of tomato cages. All of us need to be mindful of keeping the garden clean and tidy. For example, if we each pulled weeds from the paths around our beds, we could eliminate most Round-up spraying. That would be a fantastic goal.

mulching comm garden#1 on 6-2-13

Working on projects like this is a terrific way to meet the gardeners. Above are Val Kenn Gray, Pennie Haase, Bev Pratt and Mala Burt.  Meg Ingold helped and took the photos. Bobby Malzone, who mows the grass in the garden common areas, stopped by on his bicycle. He was interested in the composting process and wondered if we could get a bag for the mower. That would supply us with green layers for the bins. Bobby had already spread some mulch a day earlier. We were grateful. Maintenance is the job of the entire community garden and every little bit that anyone does helps our garden shine.

Kudos to Jack Gray who, on a recent hot day, dug through clay, brick and oyster shells to install our new sign.

community-Garden-sign