1 Oct 2017

Strulch: Another weapon against slugs?

Lovely healthy courgette plant growing soil mulched with Strulch

Since last May I've been trialling a product called Strulch. (Just to satisfy my own curiosity, nothing sponsored.) Have you heard of it? Maybe, maybe not. I hadn't until another allotment holder recommended it as a summer mulch. I wrote the name down and then looked it up when I got home.





I was curious to find out more as the last time I actually bothered to mulch around my strawberries, I used bedding straw from the local pet shop. It came out of the bag in big untidy clumps and fragments blew around the garden. I daresay there are a few readers familiar with that particular scenario.  I think the bedding straw may also have provided a nice warm hidey hole for slugs, although it's possible that I'm unfairly blaming the straw. So I gradually went off strawberries - I mean, who loves a gritty muddy strawberry? Especially one that's already been nibbled and slimed. No thanks. It was a battle I couldn't win.

So of course I was interested in this alternative mulch. Strulch, as the name suggests, is a str(aw m)ulch. (So obvious, really.) But not just your ordinary straw, as I found out. It's processed to become finely chopped with a less coarse texture and, allegedly, discourages slugs and snails. Oh yes, that certainly got my attention!  Obviously its main function is as a weed suppressant which it's claimed will last for up to two years with a 3cm layer. Also, by leaving it to rot down and/or digging into the soil at the end of the year, it will improve soil structure and drainage. So far so fabulous.

Claims that the product can be used in organic gardens was also a persuasive selling point. (It's used at the Eden Project in Cornwall which, although it shouldn't make a difference, gives some weight to its merits.) The straw undergoes a mineralisation process so when it breaks down it adds small amounts of NPK to the soil plus traces of calcium, magnesium and iron. Apparently, it's these minerals which are supposed to deter our mollusc friends. As a bonus, the materials used are locally sourced and renewable - so the product is environmentally friendly too. Excellent, and worth a punt I thought, so the trial began.

I managed to track down a retailer not too far from me and bought a couple of bags.  The bags are quite large but surprisingly light - each contains 100 litres which is enough to cover 3 square metres. A thick(ish) layer was laid across a couple of the raised beds, around the strawberries, and my newly planted edamame beans and courgettes. Then I watched and waited.

So to the big question (and thank you for patiently reading this far) .... DOES IT WORK?
Yes.  And, umm, no.  My beds were definitely weed free. My strawberries whole and clean. But my courgette seedlings disappeared down to a stump in one night. (Of course, that could have been pigeons.) The soya beans (edamame) resisted for a little longer; perhaps the fibrous stems were too much for the night-time raiders to finish off in just the one sitting. Over a longer period, of the original ten plants only one made it to the finish line and even that didn't produce much of a crop. Very disappointing - gyo soya beans were my exciting new crop for this year. (At least there's still Tiger Nuts but that's for another post.) But am I being too harsh? After all, the strawberries were mostly okay and the wet weather has made life rather easy for our slippery friends as evidenced by the slime trails across my kale. With that said, a second crop of courgettes and squashes have been untouched and flourished, even with recent rain.

Will I continue to use it?  Yes, I will. I like that it's potentially doing lovely things to my soil. Also, trialling over a second year will give a clearer idea of its capabilities. But effective as a slug deterrent? The jury is still out. (I'll have to net my crops against birds to make absolutely sure.) However, every little helps and I accepted long ago that slugs and snails are just as much a part of organic gardening as butterflies and bees. 😇

I'd be very interested to know if anyone else has used this product and what they thought of it. Please share in the comments if you have!

PS.  I had to recently clear a bed that had been Strulched (apologies, I know it's not a verb) as foxglove seeds had managed to germinate through the mulch layer.  There were no weeds and the soil underneath was gorgeous - dark, crumbly and a joy to behold.  Definitely, another year's trial is on the cards.



There are no disclosures necessary for this review. I'm sharing my first time experience of using Strulch in case this info is useful to other gardeners. I do get asked to review quite a lot of garden related stuff but this time I bought my own. 

16 comments:

  1. Interesting. I have a strawberry bed that would definitely benefit from that so I shall keep an eye out for it. Taking out the puppy after dark on wet evenings I have realised exactly how many snails there are in the garden. Dozens and dozens. It's a wonder anything survives! But like you, I accept them as part of organic life. CJ xx

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    1. Funnily enough, I don't mind snails (easily relocated) but slugs are another matter. If I had a good reason to be outside in the dark, I'd go with torch and salt bucket. Just wish there was something that would deter cats, foxes and pigeons! Cxx

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  2. Interesting product even though you had varied results, and good to see that you'll use it again. xx

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    1. It's definitely worth persevering with, Mike. Both Strulch and wool pellets are said to improve the soil in some way and provide a deterrent to slugs so it's good to have other options to slug pellets which I absolutely won't use.

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  3. I must look out for this, it's slug heaven around here despite having hundreds of frogs.xxx

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    1. Ah, what I wouldn't give to have hundreds of frogs - and a hedgehog or two! It will be interesting to know what you think if you give Strulch a try, Dina - I found wool pellets worked for me (very smelly though!) but don't always work for others apparently. Personally, I'll try anything that keeps the garden organic so absolutely no chemicals here for me! Cxx

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  4. I fell in love with Strulch a few years ago and bought it in bulk. I just chucked it thickly all round the garden - I just loved its lightness, its texture and the feel and smell of it. It just rotted down into the soil over time and I believe it did the soil good. One huge plus is how light it is. I haven't used it again since but am tempted to. londoncottagegarden.com

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    1. I agree, Julie - the texture is lovely! I'm also pleased with how it's benefitted the soil (seeds from nearby self seeders seem to be growing particularly well, hmmm!) And, if using as a mulch rather than slug deterrent, it's so nice not to have to lug heavy bags of manure around!

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  5. I haven't heard of Strulch too and slugs and snails are a constant problem here! One evening I picked up over 100 off the lawn, I took them up the lane they had all disappeared the next morning I expect they were back in the garden! At least the mulch is dual purpose. I will be interested to see what happens with it next year. Sarah x

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    1. Gosh, I've never thought of looking for slugs in the grass! What a problem to have! I like to chuck snails over the boundary fence onto the nearby railway; they have a wall of ivy to get over if they want to come back so I like to think they're happier where they are! Slugs are another matter so it's good to find organic solutions to try! x

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  6. Hi Caro, interesting thank you. I've not used it, but my dad has in Australia and he was impressed. I might give it a go as mulch for the vege beds that desperately need more TLC! X

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    1. Brilliant to hear that your Dad had good results, Simone - thanks for that! I guess there will always be a difference in the results people get, depending on so many factors. I love that this product will benefit the soil and guess that nothing is going to be 100% effective against slugs without altering the balance of nature in the garden. xx

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  7. Have been noticed about Strulch a couple of times now... I should give it a try!

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    1. Let us know how you get on - it's one of the benefits of blogging that we can share news and worthwhile discoveries!

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  8. I've heard of Strulch Caro via a garden club speaker and have made a note a note to try it. Interesting and useful to read your thoughts :)

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    1. Excellent, thanks, Anna! I'm giving it another go next year, mainly because of the benefits to soil but I'll also add it to my growing eco-friendly armoury of slug deterrents! x

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Caro x

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