Monday, February 27, 2012

Mulch disadvantages

This is something I learned the hard way and that most books and websites don't mention. There are a couple of pests that I've run into when I mulch plants. Ants and cut worms. Ants love love love to build their nests under mulch. Whether I do anything about it, depends on the location of what is mulched and how bad the situation is. I use to use Original Tide, not the one in the small boxes, but the ones in the large boxes. I haven't seen it in a long time so I had to find an alternative. Just before a rain, I'd put out the Tide just beside the ant hill and the ants would pick up the granules and take it into their home. When it rained, there was supposedly a chemical reaction with the Tide and it killed the ants. I'm not sure if it actually did work, only that I had a lot less ants. Today, I use Diatemaceous Earth. Much easier to work with and you don't have to wait until it rains to put it out. Just place it beside the ant hill and the ants take it into their hills and they eat it and die. The small particles are very sharp and they cut up the insides of the ants. It works really well. I also like to put an old board on top to stop the Diatemaceous Earth to keep it from getting wet or blowing away. It has to be reapplied if it gets wet. Cut Worms only last a small amount of time...enough to kill some of your tender seedlings. Tilling is the best method to get rid of them because they thrive on plants and tilling kills the tender weeds they thrive on. They basically starve to death if the earth is tilled. In a no till garden they love to live beneath the mulch and yes they are more virulent because they are protected from the rototiller. All you have to do is make sure when you transplant your bedding plants is that they have a collar wrapped around the base of the stem to prevent the cut worms from wrapping themselves around the stem. Problem solved! I have used newspaper or tin foil. A toilet paper roll cut in half and pushed into the ground about an inch to an inch and a half works well too. 

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