Dear Farmer Ben, This year I am growing a variety of vegetables from seed. It will be fun to watch the progress of the little seedlings as I experiment with different soils and growing vessels: the ground, wine barrels, galvanized tub. In the galvanized tub there are radishes, basil and broccoli rabe. Oddly enough, only in this tub are the leaves getting decimated at night. There are quite a few “rollie-pollie” bugs in the soil, are they eating my vegetables? Thanks, AdamMay 24, 2012
First of all, leaves getting munched at night is very common. Normally, this is due to snails and slugs. If you see slime around or on your plants, it’s probably one of the two. The woodlice, or “rollie-polies,” are probably not the issue as they normally eat decaying plant matter. If your plants are extremely weak, they might eat them but it is unlikely. Shady, wet gardens often have a lot of woodlice. You might want to consider watering less in order to keep them away…
Snails and slugs are difficult to get rid of entirely, but here are a few things you can do to deter them:
1. Go out in to your garden at night with a flashlight. Look for snails and slugs around your plants and crush them.
2. Put a copper barrier around your plants. Snails and slugs will not cross copper because it gives them an electric shock.This is easy to do in raised beds. You can buy copper tape at your local nursery and ring your entire bed with it, making sure there are no places when the snails and slugs can get through. If you are gardening without raised beds, you can also buy thin sheets of copper and make little rings around each plant. Most plants are only vulnerable at the beginning of their lives. The copper can be moved around to your youngest, most delicate plants after the current ones mature for a few more weeks
3. Crush egg shells and scatter them around your plants (the “gastropod” or belly – foot of the slugs and snails will get cut by the jagged shells and they will avoid crossing it).
4. Place cups of beer around your plants. Submerge the cup so that the lip is at ground level. The snails and slugs with crawl in and drown in the beer!
I hope this helps!