Archive for the 'Garden Pests' Category

Snails and Slugs

For years, I have attempted to keep snails and slugs away from my strawberry and vegetable plants using 1″ thick copper tape barriers. I have copper tape barriers around all of my strawberry pots and my raised vegetable garden beds. However, I have continued to find many slugs and the occasional snail in my strawberry pots and raised beds. Slugs in particular have been munching on our broccoli plants in the past few weeks, as you can see in the above picture.

The copper tape hasn’t deterred the slugs at all and has not entirely deterred the snails. The copper tape has tarnished since I put it on, which may have reduced its effectiveness. But I am not convinced that repeatedly applying new copper or cleaning the old copper is worth the cost and effort. I have also tried using snail baits in the past, but they have just washed away after repeated waterings and need to be reapplied too often.

I have recently resorted to hand picking snails and slugs out of our garden. It’s especially easy to remove them by hand this time of year, because our vegetable garden is not completely planted yet, and the plants we have set out so far are still small. Snails and slugs move out of their daytime hiding places after dark and are easier to locate then. So I have been going out into our yard a few hours after dark several nights a week with a flashlight to remove all of the snails and slugs I can find. I think that I have reduced the population substantially for now, because I have not seen any more damage to our broccoli or to the tomatoes and peppers I just planted.

Hand removal may be the most labor intensive way to deal with snails and slugs. However, I am beginning to think that hand removal combined with reducing the number of places they can hide to make the yard a less conducive place for them to live is perhaps the best overall solution to dealing with snails and slugs. Snails and slugs like to hide in moist and/or dark places in the daytime. Slugs tend to hide under pots in our yard where it remains moist all the time. The snails tend to hide in lilies such as callas, day lilies, and lilies of the nile, as well as other bushy moist plants that have low hanging leaves. I have removed most of the day lilies and all of the lilies of the nile we used to have. I also pulled up many of our callas, but the ones I left in the ground have proliferated. I am also thinking about reducing the number of pots in our yard.

Going forward, I plan on continuing to perform the hand removal technique after dark once or twice a week. I am hoping that this frequency will be enough to keep the population in check. In the past, I have basically relied on some technical solution to solve the problem for me without much follow up on my part. But I am now realizing that these pests require more involvement by a gardener actively monitoring growing plants for pest damage and taking steps to mitigate the damage as soon as it is discovered.

March 25 2010 | Garden Pests and Vegetables | 4 Comments »