Tag Archives: slugs

Keeping Slugs & Snails Away from Seedlings (Day 4 of 30 DTABG)

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It rained here the night before last and as I type this the weather looks threatening. Rain in these parts in June is rare, but with our drought it is always welcome. What is not welcome are all the slugs and snails that come out from where ever they hide to feast on our new garden additions. Snails and slugs can be detrimental to new spring gardens when everything is so tender and fresh. We’ve  tried pretty much everything that has been considered organic and pet/child safe in the garden and I’ll list it all below, but what works the best for us is using copper piping around our garden rows.

Copper piping surely is not the cheapest way to deter snails and slugs, but it is the most effective (they get a slight electrical charge when they crawl over it with makes them quickly retreat) and can be used year after year. Copper pipes can be found at your hardware store and cutting them to the length of your garden beds is easy with the right tool. We lay them out in early spring when we’ve set our beds up, we make sure to weed well around the pipes (so that no weeds overlap the pipe and make a bridge into the garden) and we’re pretty much golden for the growing season. In fall when we’re ready to retire the majority of our garden, we pick up the pipes and set them in a safe place. We’ve been doing this for three years now and can’t report any snail/slug problems (that I can remember). We also like this because the cats nor the kids can be harmed from the copper pipes and it looks nice and tidy.

Here are some other organic ways to prevent snails and slugs from eating your garden:

  1. Clean up around your garden. Snails and slugs love to hid in weeds, rocks and all sorts of other dark shady areas. By eliminating these areas around yoru garden you’ll get rid of the majority of your snail and slug problems.
  2. Beer traps. Now, this hasn’t worked for us, but enough people have told us about it that it must work for someone! Set out little dishes (empty tuna cans work well) of beer nestled in your garden. The snails and slugs will be attracted to the beer but will drown once they slid into the dish.
  3. Diatomaceaous Earth. This is the crushed up skeletons of a marine algea that appears like a powder. You lay out a 3-4 inch wide strip of diatomaceaous earth all around your entire garden bed and the sharp edges of the skeletal remains lacerate the skins of the slugs and snails. Those small cuts cause the slimy guys to dehydrate and die. (Nice huh?) We’ve tried this and it does work well, but you need to keep reapplying after it gets wet (it is ineffective once wet). You can buy Diatomaceous Earth DE Crawling Insect Killer – 1.5 lbs online.
  4. Give them a collar. If you are specifically worried about new seedlings being descimated by snails and slugs, make a collar from a paper cup to put around your seedling. Push this slightly into the ground to make sure it doesn’t get knocked over and this collar will keep creatures from crawling over and making lunch out of your new garden growth.

Tell me what keeps slugs and snails from eating your garden? Have you tried any of these tricks? Do you have one of your own that you want to share?

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the iris massacre – keeping those snails away

copper as snail barrier
Two years ago at this time of year, we had a massacre in our garden. It was ugly. It all started when all of our lettuce seeds started sprouting in their planting bed, which just happens to be right behind a wall of irises. The sight of this fresh growth was a much welcome sight after such a long, rainy winter. Remember that winter? Well, one morning during Scott’s early morning coffee-in-hand walk through the garden, he found that each and every sprout had been completely eated by snails. In an understandable snail rage, out came the clippers and all the surrounding irises that had been housing those snails were chopped to the ground. All those tall, graphic leaves and soon to be flowers were gone. Not that I’m a huge fan of that patch of irises, I mean, really, what do you call this color? Burnt Flesh?
ugly irises

But we had to find a better solution than yearly massacres. We had already tried Sluggo, beer in tuna cans, you know the drill. So we went the way of the copper pipe. It’s an awesome solution really. When the slug or snail touches the copper, a slight electrical discharge zaps the poor victim and they quickly retreat. No death, no poison, no animal-unfriendly pellets, just a zap and they are gone. If you were really fancy, you could construct a copper pipe rectangle to go around your entire bed. And it will last year after year. And it will save all the poor ugly colored irises. (note to self: i must replace with irises i actually like this fall! anyone want these fugly little guys?)

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