Garden Pests: Slugs and Snails
by Jackie Carroll
Snails are capable of destroying a garden if given a chance, and the slightest touch from their cousin the slug sends shivers up an unsuspecting gardener's spine. You'll probably never be able to completely rid your garden of slugs and snails, and since they are a part of the ecology of your garden, you probably shouldn't even try. What we want to do is maintain a balance in the garden, and the tips below are about helping you keep the slug and snail population down a reasonable minimum.
According to a study published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment you can reduce slug and snail damage dramatically by watering in the morning instead of the evening. The study showed that lettuce watered only in the morning had only 1/5 the damage that lettuce watered in the evening had.
Here are some additional guidelines that will help you control the slug and snail population in your garden:
Encourage reptiles to take up residence in your garden. Toads, turtles and snakes all prey on slugs.
If you see evidence of these pests avoid dense groundcovers and mulches that provide a hiding place. Oak leaf mulch will deter slugs and snails.
Handpick slugs and snails at night. Use a flashlight, and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
Lay boards in the garden to trap slugs and snails. Check your trap early in the morning and remove the slugs and snails as they collect.
Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the base of the stems will deter slugs and snails, but keep in mind that it will also discourage beneficial insects.
Drench the soil with wormwood tea.
Line the garden with copper strips. Slugs receive a shock when they touch copper, and they will not cross the barrier. When using this method, make sure you trap the slugs OUT and not IN.
Slugs love beer. Bury a shallow container of beer in the garden, with just the lip above the ground. When they go in for a drink, they will drown.
One commercial product that really works without harming the environment is Escar-Go. Visit Garden's Alive to find out more about this product.
"The Garden Helper"
Ahhhhh! The joys of springtime abound... The new blossoms forming on your perennials, sunshine, longer days,........ slugs!
The slug... your adversary:
Slugs may be a very serious problem to you if you live in the Northwest or other moisture laden areas of the country.
The battles and the war:
Although you may never win the war against snails and slugs entirely, you owe it to your plants to fight them with every weapon at your disposal.
As with any battle plan, it is to your advantage to be able to set the field. Set your field by cleaning your garden, and eliminating the places where the slugs hide, sleep, and reproduce.
For the sake of the environment, it is better to make an effort to control slugs and snails without using chemicals and poisons before you resort to chemical warfare.
Hand to hand combat:
Keep slug pokers stuck around the garden at random. Meet your enemy, one on one... Your weapon is at hand, impale them!
Fill a small bowl with stale beer. Put it in the areas where the slugs are active. Stale beer attracts the slugs and they drown. You may also use grape juice or a tea made from yeast, honey and water.
An early morning stroll around the garden, salt shaker in hand will often result in many casualties for the bad guys.
Destroy any and ALL slug eggs you find!
Bait and destroy tactics work. Set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog food in an area frequented by slugs. In the morning and evening visit the feeding station a few times.... slug poker in hand!
Cedar bark or gravel chips spread around your plant will irritate and dehydrate slugs.
The sharp edges of crushed eggshells around the plants will cut and kill slugs. The calcium in the eggshells is a good soil amendment anyway!
Sprinkle a line of lime around your plants. (Obviously this won't work around plants requiring a more acidic soil)
Certain herbs (Rosemary, lemon balm,wormwood, mints, tansy, oak leaves, needles from conifers and seaweed will repel slugs. However using a mulch of these plants will only turn thhe slugs away, in search of other food sources.
Oat bran will kill slugs when they eat it... sprinkle some around.
Enlist allies..... snakes, ducks, geese, toads, and Rhode Island Reds would enjoy helping you out as they dine on your slugs.
Probably the most popular, most effective, and easiest method of controlling slugs is by using commercial slug bait products.
Try as you might, the war against slugs will go on as long as there are gardens. You will never win, but you can keep them under control. Remember that for every slug you destroy, you are preventing countless generations of that slug's offspring.
You may want to consider offering a bounty on slugs in your neighborhood. It might amaze you how many slugs an ambitious young person can gather up at a nickel a head...
Organize a 'Slug Derby' with some small prize for the biggest slug, the ugliest slug, person with the most captured slugs.... A grand event for any neighborhood, to be sure!
As you wage your war on slugs and snails, you are almost certain to be 'slimed' at least once. YUK! Mix up a little warm water and vinegar, and use this formula to remove the slime from your hands like magic!
Garden Guide: http://www.gardenguides.com/TipsandTechniques/slugs.htm
The Garden Helper: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/slugs.html