Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seed Starting, Bok Choi, and the Battle of the Slugs

I've added two new products to my menagerie of garden supplies:

On the left is a liquid concentrate of 3-10-3 (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium).  I've added it in 1/2 the recommended strength to the pump sprayer I use to water my seedlings.  It's heavy in phosphorus, which encourages root growth and I've started fertilizing with it now that I've got a set of true leaves on my seedlings.

The Happy Frog is a similar mixture of 3-4-3.  A small amount is added to the hole when I transplant my seedlings out to the garden.  Hopefully, this will help get my new little veggie plants off to a good start.

The first plants to get it are my bok choi.

A mere 22 days after I started the seeds, my bok choi is ready to be transplanted.  I've put it in my new barrels, hoping that out of all my planting areas, this spot will be most resistant to slugs.

Why worry about slugs, you ask?

I've discovered that bok choi is the single most favorite food of the slugs in my yard.  Case in point, here's a picture of the bok choi I planted over a month ago:

You'll notice these bok choi plants aren't much larger than the ones I just planted above.  That's because ever since I put them in the ground, I've been fending off slugs.  They came from nowhere and disappeared before I could isolate and conquer.  I put out bait, then more bait, then the highly toxic Deadline, all of which they just strolled right past on their way to my little plants.  And the fact that they're tiny and dirt-colored just made it all the more difficult.

In one case, the slugs out and out won.  Here is a picture of the other bok choi I planted on the same day as the two above:

See it there?  Me neither.  That's because the slugs mowed it over the very night it was planted.  The next day it was gone.

I was finally able to find the culprits early, early one morning and again late one night (armed with a flash light and tweezers).  I had to hand pick them off the plants and crush them in the gravel.  I've also instructed my husband to step on any slugs he sees on the path and patio.  Since then, it seems my little choi have been slug free and are finally starting to recover from their near-fatal attack.

I later read in the book Golden Gate Gardening that I need to get control of the slugs before I plant, not after.  (Now, she tells me.)  So, I've been sprinkling around Sluggo in my empty beds, hoping that it will work.   I haven't seen any slugs, though I never do until I plant something delicious. Let's hope this preemptive measure was just the trick I needed.  My new little choi is counting on it!


  1. If you need a slug deterrent, try slug shields. Iron Phosphate pellets are actually toxic. I got slug shields last season and they were great. Totally eco friendly and they last all season.

    link to toxicity of slug pellets:

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'm always looking for new ways to get rid of slugs.