The Duck-Slug Principle

Above, Muscovy duck mom Hide with baby Peeps, photographed in their guaranteed-slug-free enclosure last summer.

"YOU DON'T HAVE an excess of slugs. You have a deficiency of ducks!" This is a paraphrase of a quote often ascribed to Bill Mollison, one of the founders of the Permaculture movement back in the 1970s. Permaculture is a way of designing property so that all the pieces (land, water, air, animals, plants, humans, and human constructions) work together to provide the basic necessities of life. One of the big attractions of Permaculture is that it uses natural means to do things that otherwise would have to be done through human labor.

For instance, rather than kill slugs ourselves, all we have to do is make sure we have enough ducks!

Permaculture is biased toward creating habitat for humans. Domesticated animals get more attention than wild animals do, and agricultural plants are favored over native species. Even so, a homestead designed along Permaculture design principles will make a lot more room for wildlife than a conventional property wood. Permaculture design ideas are compatible and can be very helpful in a "wild" approach to land management.

Take, for instance, control populations of pest insects. The slug/duck formula applies here too. By providing cover and food for the animals that eat these pests, I can control them without having to do much work myself.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to plant plants that attract these insects, which are usually referred to as beneficial to distinguish them from the pesty kind. Check this site for a list of plants that attract various types of beneficial insects.

Duck (Her name is "Duck")


Lynne said...

i'm considering chickens this spring - same principle. i'm a total beliver in this system!

Wild Flora said...

Glad to hear it, Lynne. I chose ducks because according to my reading they are easier to care for -- less disease prone, for example -- than chickens. The Muscovies are all but in-duck-structible.