As far as I’m concerned, slugs and snails are public enemy #1 in the garden. Last year, they decimated our green beans and sweet peas and made our lettuce a hole-y mess.
This year I am committed to fighting these pests, protecting our organic garden and successfully harvesting our favorite veggies. After doing some research (see http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Snails) and talking with a number of experienced gardeners, I’ve realized there’s not just one solution. These critters are sneaky! Therefore, we need to be smart and creative about how we keep them out of the garden.
Here are a seven ideas for eliminating slugs and snails from your garden. The good folks at Walt’s Organic suggest using a combination of repellents. From bait to traps to barriers, try a few techniques and learn what works best for your garden plot.
1. Beer traps. A well-known technique, with mixed results.
2. Copper. We’ve used this technique successfully over the last couple growing seasons. But I never understood why it worked until researching for this article. Copper repels snails due to a reaction between the metal and the mucous (or slime) produced by the snail as it moves. This sends the snail an unpleasant electro-neural signal, which basically feels like an electric shock. Copper can be used a couple of different ways. Either wind it around the area you want to protect or sprinkle copper pennies around the base of the plants.
3. Crushed egg shells. Sprinkle crushed egg shells on the earth surrounding the vulnerable plants. Egg shells have sharp edges which make it very unpleasant for snails and slugs to cross, so they avoid climbing over them to get to the plants. This is a great way to nourish the soil as egg shells contain calcium which reduces acidity and increases the pH. Oyster shells offer the same type of barrier.
4. Coffee. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have shown that coffee is extremely effective at repelling and killing snails and slugs. You can either place cooled coffee in a spray bottle and spritz the plants, soils and snails themselves. Or, sprinkle coffee grounds around the base of the plants you want to protect. In addition to repelling slugs and snails, coffee also helps to enrich the soil.
5. Move them: If you think this sounds like an exercise in futility, you may be right. But simply picking up and moving snails just 20 feet away from your garden can be an effective strategy.
6. Snail-hating plants. Certain flowers, plants and herbs are believed to be unappealing to snails, so think about introducing them to your garden. These include flowers such as marigolds and herbs such as parsley, mint, and fennel.
7. PVC pipe. PVC pipes and ceramic pots act as a trap. Cut a PVC pipe in half the long way, put it curved side down in the soil. The snails will gather underneath it. Alternatively, place a ceramic pot upside-down and leave overnight. Once you’ve caught the critters, you need to eliminate them some ways away from the P-Patch or smash them so that they can’t return.
How are you planning on keeping slugs and snails out of your garden? Please share your experience of what works and what hasn’t worked for you.
* Many of the statistics and ideas cited here are from http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Snails