Category Archives: Gardening

The Gardener’s Grinch

To a certain degree, slugs and snails are harmless in the garden. But they can be bothersome pests indeed. Here in northern England we have plenty of them. As we take pride in our gardens, we have to know how to get rid of them before they wreak certain havoc.

Bah humbug you say. Why mess with nature’s creatures. They are placed on this earth for a purpose. Yes they are. They all are. But when they get plentiful, you have to control the population, to put it scientifically. Or you can just tell your gardener and wonder why he didn’t notice they were on the rise in sudden numbers.

The critters come from the mollusk family and every region has a different species. Some are particularly dreadful, and not just in appearance. They glide on a muscular “foot.” Mine have been gliding lately like professional figure skaters that leave a slimy trail. What’s more, they lay dozens of eggs so their offspring will be plentiful. They feed on my garden like it was a veritable feast. You have no doubt seen those irregular holes that attest to a lot of munching going on in secret.

I hear that they work their tricks at night and love foggy and cloudy weather. They have come to the right place in England for sure. They want to avoid the bright light and the sun. That would be a great method of pest control if we had more of it! It would be natural and please the eco-minded people around here. No one likes chemicals, so if you start with weeding and getting rid of debris around the yard, it is the best start of a management program. This will take away their hiding places. Drip irrigation helps as well since too much moisture is created by irrigation, and do they ever love that humidity. You can actually buy snail-proof plants, but after the fact, your tactics will have to vary. Shelter, food, and moisture are their idea of heaven so take them away. It is called “habitat modification.” Again, very scientific.

Slugs and snails, however, can be a battle that takes great effort to win. It is all about repelling them. After a round of handpicking, if you can fathom it, you can place barriers around their favourite plants and set traps and baits. This is the most effective way to get rid of slugs and snails. The latter contain toxic chemicals anathema to our enemies, but it isn’t the most effective approach since it is dangerous to domestic pets like cats and dogs. They are also not great for the plants themselves. Then there is a beer (or sugar water) type of pest control that lures and traps them before a final drowning. How pleasant. Ugh.

These traps must be deep enough to prevent the buggers from climbing out in a frenzy of panic. They can be found at any garden supply store. They will also stock copper foil barriers whose surface reacts with snail slime causing a chemical reaction and a kind of ersatz electric shock. What a way to go!