Sunday, March 8, 2015

Roly Poly Problem - and the Solution

Hi Everyone,

Are you worn out after playing with the grandkids and/or dogs in the snow? Today I was spending some time trying to find information on why I always have such a problem getting nasturtium to germinate when I came across this video. It validates everything that I have learned with my composting and also what we have learned at PAR Davies.

I will say that the problem I was having at home (but not at Davies) was the overabundance of pill bugs or roly polys. They were in my compost and before I realized how many there were, I’d dumped bunches of the compost into my raised beds. I’m not lying when I tell you that I could scrape them up by the spoonfuls off the top off the soil. They were the bane of the garden, making it almost impossible to direct sow seeds because as soon as the tender little sprouts emerged, they were eaten off.

Like in the video, I was using kitchen scraps in my compost pile. Pill bugs LOVE tender vegetation like the lettuce and cabbage leaves, etc. that I was putting in the compost. This past year I started using only shredded leaves, coffee grounds and egg shells. While the pill bugs have not completely disappeared, they are not at plague proportions. So in addition to the reasons given in the video for not using kitchen scraps, the elimination of pill bugs is a major one for me. BTW, I use a leaf blower/sucker like the one in the video, and it shreds the leaves very nicely.

On the egg shells, I don’t know exactly how many are too much. I do think that it probably takes a while for them to break down, so I am not too worried about getting too much calcium. If anyone has any knowledge in this area, please let us know. One way that I’ve been collecting my eggshells is keeping them in a pan in the oven. I use my oven almost every day, so after I turn it off, I put the pan of eggshells back in to dry out. This way you don’t have a bunch of eggshells sitting around getting smelly, and when they are dried out they can be crushed up more finely.

Hopefully some of you can relate to these issues and there might be something that you didn’t know and it will be helpful, not only for your vegetable gardens but also in your teachings.

Oh, I never did find out anything that I wasn’t already doing as far as the nasturtiums! Anybody else have this problem? Last year I planted nasturtium near my squash and didn’t have any squash bugs, however, did have the squash vine borer. So this year I plan to put more nasturtium around all the veggies to deter squash/stink bugs.

At the beginning of the post is a picture of my covered bed taken on Friday. Before I covered it Wednesday I was able to pick a bunch of lettuce and pulled a few carrots. It will be interesting to see how things fared when I uncover. It had a good layer of snow, so I believe it was well insulated the last two nights.

Dianne, TEMG '11

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