Fungi & Slugs & Rain, Oh My!

Ah, rain water. The elixir of life. Or so I used to think.
Our record rainfalls are also bringing fungi, mold, slugs and more to your garden.
I do believe I personally jinxed the weather this year. How? Can you bear with me a moment?

We had to remove two old and gnarly evergreens dying on the front side yard. Once cleared away, I was left with a small, lovely and much appreciated patch of sandy soil in the SUN. Mid afternoon sun, mind, but SUN nonetheless, pure heaven to a shady gardener.

Then I opened my big yap and said “Wouldn’t it be ironic if it rains or is overcast most of the summer and I don’t see the sun on my new sun garden after all?” Dummy.

fungi clusterAnyway. Loads and loads of compost, worm castings, horse manure and cedar mulch later, I can now report that I’m growing a terrific harvest of wild fungi. In my new sun garden.

This would not be unusual in the spring. Or the fall. But JULY? Really? Can we get to summer here, or what? I expected it in all the shade gardens. I even have mushrooms growing in my myriad shade container plantings out back. (Real mushrooms thriving beside the groovy faux mushrooms I bought at the garden show!)
I walked the dogs over to the school today and found an immense swath of mushrooms growing in the thatch; these are huge full sun playing fields.

Not to worry. The fungi will not hurt my new plants and small ornamental trees. But they are an indicator that it’s too wet and I risk some of my new babes drowning. Or worse, being eaten alive.

SLUGS. 

baby slugWhat does rainy humid weather bring out but whole families of slugs feasting on everything in sight.
Yes, I know my hostas will suffer. But this summer I am learning that slugs are a true ‘free for all’ type of dining guest. They have eaten at least one third of most of my new plants. And it’s not just the big slimy ugly grey slugs (and snails). Today I found a small white baby slug dining on my bugbane. Hydrangea? Delicious. Ornamental Cabbage? Yes please. Tomatoes. Oh goodie. (Yeah, I planted two small tomato plants in the new part sun garden….ever an optimist, that’s me.)

SLUG REPELLENTS 

bugbane eaterI promise I have tried every single slug repellent there is.

One spring I carefully circled all of my hostas with pennies. Yes overlapping pennies, that copper thing, you know? After one hard rain however, the pennies were covered in mud. It was a phenomenal and loving effort that did not work. I think I wept.

Wood ash? Tried it. Almost as labour intensive as the pennie. How many labours of love can one woman attempt?

Need I bother mentioning tuna cans full of beer? Or scooped out melon rinds tipped over? Fuggetaboutit.

Slug bait? Well, need I call more relatives into my garden? I think not. Slug bait, however, does work well during an average season, but not this year. (Safer’s Will not harm Pets, Birds or Wildlife, Slug & Snail KILLER.)

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH 

Eco Way Bug Killer DustDiatomaceous Earth? (I do not even attempt to pronounce this one.)
MUCH better, especially if there’s good tree coverage, plus it even stands up to light rain. It’s expensive stuff but it will work. It’s especially useful for upright hostas; just sprinkle it along the base of the plant. Any drooping hosta leaves on the ground? There’s little that can be done in a wet early July such as this, besides removing it from your list of favourite plants.

What I love most about Diatomaceous Earth is that it’s organic and can be used indoors and out. It’s a mechanical insecticide that kills by way of cutting action on the little buggers internally and externally.

insects.about.com

insects.about.com

Can I blame the rain for the crazy ant infestations this year? Not sure, but ants we have. Red ants. Enormous black ants. Inside the house, even. I’ve even sighted the dreaded flying carpenter ant!

I decided to try my ‘Eco-Way Bug Killer Dust’ inside. This is big for me as we live with loads of animals, including parrots, so I am VERY careful. A parrot’s tiny respiratory system is not to be messed with. I applied the dusty material delicately around doorways, window sills, and such like. And guess what? No more ants.

I don’t know where the ants went, or what happened. I don’t care.

Do note that this product has to be present in order for it to work. It claims to also control cockroaches, earwigs, ants, fleas, silverfish, crickets, millipedes and centipedes.
More info on Safer’s and King Eco-Way here:
http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@ene/@resources/documents/resource/std01_079826.pdf

SLUGS? JUST SQUISH ‘EM

In the end, there’s only one surefire way to get rid of slugs, in this kind of season. You gotta pick ’em off by hand. Hunt the garden in the early morning. Drop ’em in some sudsy water.

Get over the ‘ew’ factor. Wear latex gloves if you have to. Using tongs is useless, because you’ll end up ripping off the plant leaves, too.

I personally find great satisfaction in flinging grubs, snails, and slugs onto the roadway, preferably in blistering sun, if we had any. Am I terrible?

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