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It wants brains….....


Obviously not content with having eaten half my garden, the snails want in! I can say with some authority that it is more than a little disturbing to see snails gradually covering all the windows of your home. Of course I don’t mind snails per se and I certainly wouldn’t kill them, but some sort of action needs to be taken. In a previous blog post about Natural Ways To Control Slugs And Snails I listed a few ‘Gastropod Friendly’ solutions. None of them has worked. Not even the fancy snail tape I bought from The Green Gardener. Not that it’s the Green Gardener’s fault – in fact for a few of my friends it has been extremely helpful. I think the snails in my garden are made of sterner stuff.

In my efforts to lesson the damage done to my plants I tried:

Coffee Grounds – the snails, hyped up on copious amounts caffeine, ate double the amount of plants. It was a bad idea.

Porridge Oats – the slow release of complex carbohydrates meant that the snails had more energy and therefore ate more of my garden. I also discovered that oats are good for the libido – maybe that’s why I kept finding so many snails laying eggs in my pots. Ugh!

Beer – I would rather drink it myself.

Dried Egg Shells – I have a feeling they enjoy the irony of ‘walking on eggshells’ around me. I can appreciate that.

Snail Tape – aside from the fact that I cut my fingers on it and it kept sticking to my hands, shoes, trousers and face (don’t ask) this tape had some sort of magnetic draw which resulted in large clusters of snails congregating for impromptu ‘mollusk parties’. Although I provided the nibbles I was not invited.

At the moment I am still picking them off the pots, plants, walls and ground and chucking them into the far hedge. Eventually they make their way back. A few weeks ago I bought 19 marigolds which were completely decimated in 2 days. One marigold seems to have survived but I am not sure for how long. They say April showers bring May flowers, but in this case all the April showers have done is bring snails. We have had an enormous amount of rainfall in the UK over the past few months. My garden is behaving differently as a result – my sweetpeas have barely grown and my pepper plants aren’t doing anything either. Of course the snails haven’t helped.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions on how to humanely get rid of snails I would be eternally grateful. Otherwise I may scrap the garden and just open a snail safari instead.

WARNING! The images below are not for the faint hearted.

The gallery of sadness

Marigold Sadness

Another Sad Marigold

It makes me weep

It hurts....It huuuuurts!

The one that got away

Natural Ways To Control Snails And Slugs...

“I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Ûdun. Go back to the Shadow! You…shall not…PASS!”

— Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

It may sound strange being a gardener who likes snails – but I do. I don’t want to kill them but over these past few weeks I have had to admit to myself that they are becoming a real issue. After a very wet weekend I finally managed to get out in the garden. To my dismay I was greeted by chewed up leaves, half eaten tomatoes and a million slime trails. Something needed to be done.

Ok, so I didn’t don my wizard robes and brandish my staff but I did do the next best thing. I bought some copper tape. Apparently it gives snails and slugs a wee electrical zap and they quickly lose interest in tender young leaves and head for the hills.

Copper slug and snail tape

There are a wide variety of ways to control slugs and snails in your garden without resorting to harmful chemicals. Keep in mind that birds, frogs and other wildlife (including pets) could eat snails and slugs that have been poisoned. Dogs and cats have also been known to eat snail and slug pellets as they look very similar to their own kibble – that is very bad news for them and their owners.

Metaldehyde is a common ingredient in many commercially produced slug / snail baits. It will not only kill the slugs and snails but it will also kill or seriously harm whatever eats them. In the UK there is also some concern that metaldehyde has been found in drinking water – but this is being downplayed. Why is this stuff still being used?

I will not use chemicals in my garden. For the past 3 years I have been looking at different ways to safely keep snails away from my plants.

• Plucking them off the plants and out of the pots every morning and evening worked for awhile. I would walk them down to the end of the garden – but of course they always came back! Not an ideal solution

• Last summer a friend suggested using egg shells. Whenever you have eggs set the shells aside and give them a wash. Place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and heat them slowly in a low temperature oven. When they have dried out (approx 1 – 1.5 hours) break them up a bit more and layer them around the base of your plants. Snails and slugs don’t like crawling over them. I did try this but it didn’t work for me although I do know people who swear by this method

• Beer poured into pie plates or shallow dishes and left in the ground will slow them down. I always thought they drowned but apparently it just makes them dozy and drunk. They lay around in a stupor while birds and other predators feast on them

• Other methods include spraying a coffee mixture on leaves and soil or spreading a thick layer of uncooked porridge oats around the base of the plant. I haven’t tried these methods but this site on Sustainable Gardening Tips had some great ideas including these ones

• The Wake Up Your Garden For Wildlife Study Day I participated in at the start of June was really helpful. It makes sense that if you make your garden friendly for wildlife they will create their own natural balance. Frogs, toads, snakes and birds will eat snails and slugs so why not welcome them into your garden? I have created a small water feature in the hopes of attracting some frogs. They will certainly have plenty to eat in my garden

You Shall NOT Pass!

I really believe in the importance of finding natural and environmentally friendly ways to control pests. O.k it may take awhile to find out what works for you but if you love your garden then isn’t it worth the time and commitment to work in harmony with it?

Please feel free to share your own tips and techniques for dealing with slugs, snails or other garden pests. I would love to hear about them.

Happy Gardening!

Luna x