Monday, 2 July 2012

Garden Wisdom AKA Snails Are Not The Enemy

As you probably know, I love spending time in my garden. It's lovely and quiet out there.  I have a chair hidden beneath some rowan trees and the only disturbance comes from a ninja blackbird that likes to swoop out of nowhere and aim right for your face.

This year, I started growing vegetables. The potato plants are magnificent, the tomato plants are grumpy, but coming along slowly, and my salad area has lots of visitors every night - visitors of the shelled and slimy kind - who have come to take advantage of the new breakfasting zone.

Here is one of them.

Steve McSnail

I have an organic garden where everything from snails to field mice, birds and leaf-cutter bees are welcome, and I have a complete no-kill policy.  The garden is a place of safety, even for gastropods. There was no way I was going to kill the slugs and snails (who have lived here peacefully for years without causing serious damage to my plants) but I did want some lettuces left at the end of the season.

Here's a tip I've discovered that every gardener can use.

I accidentally left a box of vegetable peelings (destined for the compost) out one night and found that snails were drawn to it.  Dozens of them.  Their snack of choice? Potato peelings.

One thought led to another, and I experimented.

I spread a couple of handfuls of fresh potato peelings around my salad leaves the next night, and when I went out to check everything, the snails were back, chomping on the peels, not on the plants!

The peel rots down after a couple of days, so you need to keep adding a handful here and there, but it works. Now the snails get their meal and I get my lettuce. It's simple, but it works.

Slugs and snails are not the enemy, my friends.  They're looking for a tasty meal, just like the rest of us.  Embrace your snails!

How could you not love a face like this?


  1. When I lived in Dorset I was amazed by the number of snails that would come out at night. It's not something you see here in Georgia. I loved them. My daughter and I actually kept two as pets for about a month before releasing them back into the garden.

    1. I love slugs and snails. If I go out at around midnight they are absolutely everywhere in my garden, slurking about happily. I've seen the beasties that visit your garden. Lizards! I think I'm better off with snails.

    2. LOL Yes, it's true. I have lizard stalkers. ;)

  2. That last snail is huge! Golly! I have some creepy winged things eating my pepper plants. I can't identify them so I don't know what to do about them. They are only on the red & green pepper plants and not on the tomatoes or cucumbers. Hmm.

    My one hesitation about putting out veggie peelings is the attraction of smaller critters of the "does not mix well with dogs" kind. Skunks. We have tons of skunks around here and we're practically in the city. We have covered up most holes and gaps in the fences, but those stinky kitties (as we call them, since Jinx always thinks skunks and cats are the same thing) still manage to get in the yard. Hmm.

    However, I totally geeked out all excited-like at the solution to your problem! This is my first year with a little garden in the back yard and I am on the prowl for no-kill, non-toxic solutions to my problems!

    1. Even a few peels seems to do the job. The snails will probably make short work of them before a skunk sniffs them out.

      It must be wonderful to see a skunk (I think). Fortunately I don't have any hefty critters to worry about here. The biggest beast I see in the garden is a little fieldmouse who lives in a log pile at the very bottom. He can scoff as much as he likes. :)

      A tip for your pepper plants:
      Onions. Flying insect pests don't like onions, so if you plant chives, garlic or other onions nearby, it should chase them off.

      I hope that helps you and Gardener Jinx!