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Kelly J. Cooper

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Slimy Pests [Jul. 18th, 2009|05:51 am]
Kelly J. Cooper

Given that we've had a RIDICULOUSLY wet summer so far, anyone who gardens may be suffering from a surfeit of slimy slugs and snails.

I HIGHLY recommend Sarah Ford's 50 Ways to Kill a Slug: Serious and Silly Ways to Kill or Outwit the Garden's Number One Enemy. It's a small book, cute & green, and full of wonderful ways of not only killing slugs - most of which apply to snails as well - but also how to make your garden less attractive to those of the slime family. It's still in print, too, which is marvelous because I bought it 3 years ago. And it only costs around $5 or $6.

I'll summarize a few of her recommendations.

1. Slugs & snails are mostly nocturnal - they hide during the day. So the best way to hunt them is at night, preferably using a a flashlight. If you are very near your neighbors, you might want to let them know you'll be doing this in advance.

2. Slugs, like ants, leave trails for other slugs to follow. If you see the slime trail, scrub a big gap so that the rest of the slugs can't follow the first to your garden.

3. Simply pick them off your plants and snip 'em in half. If you don't wanna touch 'em, use chopsticks or wear gloves.

4. Beer traps really DO work, but you need to have the trap deep enough and containing sufficient beer that they can't escape before they're too drunk to escape. Then they drown. More than half a can of your standard cheap-ass beer is necessary. Might as well use the whole can.

5. Irritate them with trimmings of hair, diatomaceous earth, dried & crushed eggshells, etc. These are things that annoy their tender mucous-y bottoms, and they won't crawl over 'em, so you'll need to sprinkle them around the perimeter.

6. Do the copper thing. Copper really does zap them, so you can use wire or strips around the garden to stop them from coming in.

7. And, of course, the old standby: salt. Ew. The result is kinda horrifying actually.

Now, what do ya do with the corpses? They are great for your compost pile. Supposedly, raccoons, cats, dogs, and fish all like to eat them. Or you could build a small catapult and let the neighbors deal with them. I wouldn't throw them in the garbage as that's a waste. If you don't want them but your town does yard waste pick up, throw them in there. They'll help someone else's compost pile.

Ms. Ford's book has MANY more suggestions for minimizing your garden's attractiveness to slugs and snails and LOTS more recommendations on distracting, diverting, and killing the slimy bastiches, so I recommend buying the book.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: muffyjo
2009-07-18 01:35 pm (UTC)
That's, um, sickly cool in its own way.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-19 05:15 am (UTC)
Thanks! I think...
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[User Picture]From: laurenpburka
2009-07-18 07:16 pm (UTC)
My front garden has lots of little snails, but I've always just ignored them. Are they actively harmful?

Having said that, I'm probably not going to be energetic enough to do something even if you say they make hydrangeas burst into flame.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-19 05:14 am (UTC)
Probably the little snails grow up to be bigger snails and they eat your plants, giving them a raggedy look or even killing them.

If you don't have the energy, you might be able to pay a smallish child a few dollars to pick them & throw them in a bucket. When the kid is done, empty a can of beer into the bucket.
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