Outnumbered: slug season here

Slug season, referred to by the optimistic as spring, has finally arrived.

Mary Lowther’s compost is almost ready to go onto the soil.

Slug season, referred to by the optimistic as spring, has finally arrived.

I hope the gardening pundits are right when they say healthy plants withstand predation, because I plan on growing the best crops ever this year. For this I can thank Dr. William Albrecht, head of the Department of Agriculture of Missouri, who determined that to grow nutrient-dense plants one must balance the minerals in the soil.

Solomon’s Complete Organic Fertilizer contains minerals that West Coast soils generally need. If you’d like the recipe email me at mary_lowther@yahoo.ca. He also suggests that soft rock phosphate is best added to the compost heap instead of the mixture. The best time to add it is when you’re building the heap because it will bond with the compost over time as fermentation occurs and worms digest it with the clay and nutrients. The next best time is when the damp compost is nearly finished. Fermenting the rock phosphate for a month in the heap may more than triple the level of available phosphorus.

Two weeks ago when we had a break in the weather, I tore apart my nearly-finished heap and added back in layers of clay, soft rock phosphate and potassium, since the soil analysis showed a deficiency of potassium. Soft rock phosphate is preferred over hard rock phosphate since the latter does not release phosphorus nearly as well.

How much rock phosphate should you add? Well, the recipe ideally calls for one quart per 100 square feet and I have 1,000 square feet of garden, so I need 10 quarts. Bone meal can serve as a less substantial substitute, so given how expensive soft rock phosphate is, I’m just using four quarts plus six quarts of bonemeal. The phosphate goes in the heap and the bonemeal goes into the rest of the COF mixture.

That still leaves me with the slugs. It’s war to the death, and they have me outnumbered.