There is a small war being waged out in our garden. It’s me against the snails and slugs.
Two weeks ago the Middle Boy and I planted out the seedlings that we’d lovingly coaxed into life on our kitchen window sill. There were zucchini, water melon, rock melon, tomato, beans, basil, dill, cucumber, pumpkin and squash seedlings, as well as a handful of flowers. The boy and I dug the dirt and pulled out all the weeds (which was hard work after all the rain we’ve had) and cleared a few small patches of garden to plant our seedlings. Then we fed them and watered them.
Three days later the three bean seedlings, which had been threatening to break through the kitchen window they were so large, were gone.
Just one pathetic little stalk left in the dirt.
A few days after that the zucchinis met a similar fate.
I suspected snails and slugs so we set some beer traps and we caught a couple, but still the seedlings were being chomped on. One squash plant vanished over night. Completely. Nothing left. Not even a stalk.
We stepped up our campaign a notch and I started encircling our seedlings with crushed up egg shells, supposedly the snails and slugs won’t cross that barrier.
Then the melons disappeared and some of the tomatoes too. Then, something began chomping on the unripe strawberries!!! This meant all out war!
In a perfect world I’d use only organic, eco friendly pest control methods, ala the beer traps and crushed egg shells. But obviously my world is far from perfect so I went for the nasties…. I snail baited. Under child safe, pet safe (not that any of the chooks, ducks or guinea pigs are allowed loose in the garden at the moment anyway) little shelters of course, but still…. I doshed out the poison.
There has been lots of casualties, the carcases of snails and slugs are piled high in our garden at present, many more than ever died at the drunken snail parties in the beer traps. While I am not proud to have reached for the poison I am feeling the heady highs of revenge. Take that you nasty little seedling munching buggers! You won’t deprive my family of fresh fruit and veg any more!
So I’ve planted another round of seeds to replace those plants that took a hit in the great snail and slug wars of 2010. I am hopeful that our initial encounter has sufficiently depleted the enemies numbers so that eggs shells and beer will be enough to maintain the status quo until the seedlings grow to such a size where they can handle a little nibble now and then. You see I am not all evil dictator… I will share, as long as there is some left for us as well!
For a while, all was quiet on the battle ground. Until, this morning I discovered more holes in my strawberries and one pumpkin plant decimated!
How can that be?
Has the poison lost it’s power?
Or am I facing a new enemy?
Ear Wigs perhaps?
And so the war goes on.
Does anyone have any good eco friendly tips for dealing with snails, slugs and ear wigs? Or suggestions as to what else could be eating my seedlings??
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
I’m going to be following the comments carefully because we’ve been having a similar problem here.
try covering them with cut off milk bottles at night too Kate, until they get bigger and less delicious to the slimy folk.
I’m having the same problems in my garden too. The slimy things ate my zucchini seedlings :(
I’ll be following your comments in the hope I find something that helps me too
I used the least toxic snail bait. I also go out on occasion at night and pull them off but the best thing I’ve done is netted my whole patch. I haven’t seen any evidence of a single slug since doing that. I plan to raise the net as needs be. This way I keep the cat, dog, possums and birds out too! I must blog so you can see.
My girls are trying to collect caterpillars at the moment, it helps keep them amused and to keep the plants growing
Super Sarah says
I have had success with using coffee grounds as a barrier against slugs and snails and have so far managed to preserve my strawberry plants this spring. Just sprinkle a thick, deep moat of it around each individual plant, the slugs hate it and the snails get stuck in it! I drink a lot of coffee so always have grounds left over but a friend asked her local cafe for a plastic bag of their grounds to use!
Christie - Childhood 101 says
The only thing that has saved our vegie plants so far is raising the beds!
Missy Boo says
Can I guess cabbage moth caterpillars??? Those green caterpillars have eaten everything in my garden this year, and they camouflage themselves so beautifully on the stems and leaves!
Aunty Sarah says
I suggest that you ask Grandma Jill for (yuck for you) coffee grounds from the nifty machine. we used them here to discourage our last influx of slimy crawlies and now I have a lovely (if potted) vege garden growing with nary a nibble.
Mistress B says
We havent planted out yet with our late start after our move, but…… I can see we are going to have the same battle. Just sitting outside last night with a couple of cans of drink we found slugs all over the pathways and our drinks and there is nothing in our garden to attract them yet!
get yourself a couple of glass jars and wrap them in damp newspaper, place them around your strawberries etc in the late arvo. inspect the jars and paper every morning and you’ll cut down their numbers very fast!