NZ Kitchen Garden

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Snails: Chemical warfare

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My beer traps have been working wonderfully, trapping three or four slugs in each a night (many of them on the very large side) and a few tiny snails. However, after a while I noticed that my tender broccoli, cucumber and eggplant seedlings were disappearing, one bite at a time. When I arrived home after a long weekend away, smidgens of ravished stalks greeted me, making it blatantly obvious that either some slugs did not have the taste for beer or something else was making a mockery of my pest protection system.

And here they are – a veritable army of large snails (with a few slug ring-ins):

I am a little sad to say that I introduced chemical warfare to thwart these nasties, as it seemed like my last resort. Night after night before bed, I marched down to the garden, torch in hand and reminiscent of when I first stalked my slugs. Still, all that I found were slugs; most of whom had already made their way happily into the beer tent. Nothing else was hanging around my plants.

I decided that, when it came to it, I needed to win the race to get my vege plants to the plate before they were eaten. Action needed to be taken as soon as possible; I had new seedlings waiting in the wings for planting and I was not prepared for them to experience the same fate. So I sparingly put a wide ring of some generic snail and slug bait that I had at the back of my cupboard around my at-risk areas and these are what I found the next morning!

Now, I’m not sure if this gives me a good gauge of just how many snails are in my garden or whether this is simply the haul from night one. I am going to leave the bait down until it washes away in the rains that we are having and see what happens. The beer traps are also going full-throttle, but I now know that they’re not great for catching these large and slippery soldiers. I also have no idea what time of the night or morning they descend onto the garden, but it’s somewhere between 11pm and 7am, which (sorry) is no good for picking them off one-by-one.

I consider the use of bait a big fail in my effort for natural gardening, but a win in the face of losing yet another set of carefully cultivated vegetable seedlings and ultimately food for my family. A few hours of research later and I have found that there are more intelligent options as alternatives to chemical baits, which are harmless to birds and your garden like Tui Quash, which will be going on my shopping list.

I put this one down to being relatively new at this and quite unprepared for the new challenges that come my way before I know it. However, keeping it in perspective, there are bigger concerns in the world and by this time next year I will know what I am doing.

(FYI – I did have the foresight to put protection around my tomatoes before the gale-force winds arrived. Nice one!)

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7 thoughts on “Snails: Chemical warfare

  1. I tried the “beer method” and I got one snail! My garden was full of these suckers 😉 Glad it worked for you!

  2. I think they just keep us on tip toes…….need to change the method every now and then. I had the ring of chemicals, I thought I won the war, but it was only the battle……today I found my cucumber seedling (Bella, the only seed I had left from this one) dead. they didn’t even eaten it, just cut it to half, leave on the ground, just to spite I reckon. that mean WAR!. I have some ideas, I will check it first. 😦 great article though, good luck with your war.

    • I guess the pretty little creatures (slime not included) are just doing their job, aren’t they. I am thinking of laying down a ring of bait further out around my garden and eliminating the snails inside it. Check out my Facebook page for some great ideas that my cousin posted.

      • I just checked fb…., the idea I had was salt….thought it might be vicious….didn’t want to mention it until I check…..this is a reassurance. … i am going to give it a go. the other thing they say it coffee, i have Turkish coffee that too bitter fro us……maybe the snail will like a cuppa?! 😉 so much information and so little time, i may have to take few days off work soon 🙂

  3. I use slug nematodes, but this year, for the first time ever I also (once!) used chemicals and it was a revelation, just how many HUGE slugs there are lurking in my garden, despite my attempts at natural controls. I don’t feel bad though, it was so very depressing loosing all those seedlings, over and over and I hope not to have to repeat using the nasty stuff again. Or at least, not for a long while. Good luck with alternative, kinder methods, I shall read with interest. Beth/Rock Cottage Year

    • Hi Beth, thanks for stopping by. I will have to check out the nematodes (??) and see what they are. It is amazing how big these snails can be and it is no wonder they chomp through seedlings so quickly!!

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