“Leaves or slugs? ” – week 13 2022

“Leaves or slugs? ” – week 13 2022

“Oeeee! There is another one. That is early in the season.” They are here already. And active. Small, squishy and hungry. Slugs and snails. But especially slugs. The outdoor temperature in March has hovered around 15 C the last few weeks and that has not only been appreciated by sun starved humans but also by slime sliders. Slugs and snails have woken up out of their eggy slumber and have been on the hunt for fast food. A couple of weeks ago several of the older shii-take logs had gingerly produced small button-like mushrooms (precursor of harvestable shii-take mushrooms) but within days they already had holes in them. Thousands of microscopic slug teeth had been hard at work filling bellies with this protein rich delicacy.
Last year 2021 was a wonderful year for the slug population. Wet and warm weather is apparently good for egg production. Natural predators could not keep up with the free food supply and the overabundant numbers of slugs could be found everywhere on everything that could be eaten. These slugs have most probably produced potential offspring and due to the lack of frost I can imagine that there will be lots more this year. Not good.
Slugs like warm, moist and dark places. Under leaves for example. And there are lots of them in the forest of an Edible Wood Farm. Luckily leaves can be removed easily but…. leaves are also useful in retaining water and moderating the soil temperature during warm periods (besides other things).
During the dry years of 2018, 2019 en 2020 the leaves on the forest floor played an important role in cooling down the air in the forest. A sprinkler was often used and the water remained longer on the surface because of the presence of the litter layer. And now here is the dilemma… should I leave the leaves and turn into a slug hunter extraordinaire or remove the leaves and hope that this will diminish the number of slug parties without negatively affecting the forest surroundings.