GARDEN SNAILS & SLUGS- FACTS & HOW TO DETER THEM HUMANELY

Posted in Gardening/household tips on May 23rd, 2014 by John Coxon

garden snail

 

We know that salt kills slugs and snails by dehydrating them but surprisingly real coffee grains and caffeine are toxic to snails  and of course there are a number of fatal chemical poisons you could buy to kill them off. It’s estimated that in the UK gardeners buy some 400 billion slug pellets annually which indicates the lack of fondness for slugs and most gardeners opting for fatal remedies . These gastropods ( literally stomach-foot) are a huge nuisance in gardens and some form of management of them is necessary as the scale of their presence might shock some people and as they breed prolifically even killing off the ones you actually see isn’t going to permanently solve the problem.

black slug

At any given time 95% of slugs are below ground and they  can stretch themselves to twenty times their own length and thus enabling them to squeeze through the smallest crevices. It’s estimated that the average UK garden harbours some 20,000 slugs and snails and roughly 200 slugs per cubic metre of garden.

slug

 

Snails are essentially slugs with shells. (Snails have both gender reproductive organs  and thus can reproduce without having a partner but it appears they prefer  sex and usually mate with another snail rather than going solo!  They  reproduce really often and in a year can have as many as 430 offspring so you are never likely to be completely rid of them in your garden.)

 

As an ethical lay Buddhist where harming any living being has been a lifetime no-no, there’re are , from my experience, a number of harmless but effective ways of protecting your plants and vegetables from attack. Simplest of all is to feed them stuff they like but  away from your precious plants! You may already re-cyle food and garden waste or have a composting system  but left over cabbage and other vegetable leaves can be left outside on a plate or other shallow container  at the bottom of the garden. I have a see through plastic fridge door tray I found, and keep that topped up  with left over salad and other vegetable matter in various stages of decay  (which is down at the rear of my garden amongst ferns and other stuff snails and slugs don’t eat/matter) and it works.

snail patrol

The other strategy that works well is to find and relocate them meaning snail patrol after dark during the growing season.  Snail’s are nocturnal so build into your when-it-gets-dark-schedule going out with a torch ( and camera as I always do) and especially after it has rained (when you will see most) gently collect them and re-locate them- either elsewhere in your garden away from the plants you  want to protect or in some public space with some vegetation. Snails have both gender reproductive organs  and thus can reproduce without having a partner but it appears they prefer  sex and usually mate with another snail rather than going solo!  They  reproduce really often and in a year can have as many as 430 offspring so you are never likely to be completely rid of them in your garden.

slug taking advantage of the vegetable food stuff i have left top attratc them away from my plants. Slugs like to eat decpmposing food stuffs & therefore perform a useful fuinction.

Slug taking advantage of the vegetable food stuff I have left top attratc them away from my plants. Slugs like to eat decpmposing food stuffs & therefore perform a useful fuinction. Snails are more picky.

You may already re-cyle food and garden waste or have a composting system  but left over cabbage and other vegetable leaves can be left outside on a plate or other shallow container  at the bottom of the garden. I have a see through plastic fridge door tray I found, and keep that topped up  with left over salad and other vegetable matter in various stages of decay  (which is down at the rear of my garden amongst ferns and other stuff snails and slugs don’t eat/matter) and it works.

My late night slug and snail cafeteria, at the bottom pf the garden well away from the plants i want to defend .

My late night slug and snail cafeteria, at the bottom of the garden well away from the plants I want to defend .

Make access to plants you want to protect uncomfortable for these soft underside mini-creatures belly crawling on a muous slime carpet they pump out by dressing the soil around your plants with either course grit, egg shell, course sharp stones and sand. ( You can also smear Vaseline petroleum jelly on the outside rims of plant  containers as niether slugs or snails like to cross it.)

anti snail grit

Benefit from the knowledge that snails and slugs don’t like copper or more psrticularly crawling over it as combined with the wet mucus they emit, copper delivers a tiny electric shock that snails find unpleasant, harmless, but would rather avoid . I have done quite a bit of plumbing in the home and keep short off cuts of 15mm copper tubing stored away in a tin and so was able to scatter them around my precious runner bean , broad bean and onion plants.

DSC_3876

You can buy self adhesive copper ribbon to wrap around the outside of plant containers  but why waste money when you can improvise  at no cost! Make copper wire bracelets like I am showing you below to wrap around the stems of your plants below the first foliage.

copper anti snail mesh

Copper wire anti-slug stem bracelet protection.

I  save lengths of three core wiring from jobs I’ve done around our home or just found out there. Strip of the external insulation sleeve and separate the three wires. I find a sharp craft knife handy for this little job- slitting the white outer insulation by cutting along the off-cut’s length, both sides .

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With the  three inner core wires separated next you need to strip off the individual wire insulation.

DSC_4469

 

This inexpensive  tool,  adjustable wire stripping pliers, makes light work of the job. Alternatively use a craft knife to score into the insulation then with your nails of your thumb and for forefinger over the cut you made pull the insulating sleeve off bit by bit.

DSC_4464

Take say a three inch length of the reclaimed multi strand fine copper wire and twist is several times them tweak it out to make a kind of copper mesh. Loop wrap that around your cherished plant’s stems just below the first foliage  allowing room for growth and twist the two ends together to keep them in place.

SNAIL FACTS AND GREAT CLOSEUP PHOTOS OF COMMON GARDEN SNAILS (helix asperasaHelix is Greek for spiral ; aspersus is Latin for speckled)

I am a very keen gardener and always learning but could never wilfully or deliberately  harm any living thing that comes to visit,  be it a spider, a bee , a snail , and when you get to know more about them  you realise just how awesome they are and have to admit it I am a fan of snails  they, like me are nocturnal – its 1.45 am and already I’ve taken a few breaks from this taking close-ups of snails  on my slug patrols- they are, to me, incredibly elegant and rather beautiful creatures. For the purpopse of taking close up photos of small things like bugs and snails the ideal is to invest in a ring flash like mine. They are not expensive and very easy to use and fine say even if you are shooting in the dark as the gun can be used as a circular light around the lens or for all around flash.  (I prefer to use my 10-20mm wide angle lens rather than the special close jup lens I also have simply because it goives me much greater depth of field. )

My camera with my ring flash attached.

My camera with my ring flash attached.

meike FC100 ring flash system - the simple controls.

meike FC100 ring flash system – the simple controls.

 

Why not take a look at some of my recent snail photos and see if I can convince you that’s they are lovely things ( although not sucbh a fan of slugs ! ) click on the image below to visit my snail gallery which I just uploaded onto my flickr photography account.

snail eating!

 

 

Why not join me on my Facebook where I also share ideas, tips and photos as well as my twitter account and google Plus. I also have a YouTube channel for more gardening, household and photography tips – please subscribe there! You can  also find out more about my photography services by visiting my main website at www.johncoxon.com. Please  click on any of these icons to visit any of those sites. Thank you.

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Re-Use chipped /cracked favourite cups & mugs as mini planters !

Posted in Gardening/household tips on May 23rd, 2014 by John Coxon


mug plant pots

(click on any image to see the larger version)

So annoying when your favourite tea or coffee cup /mug gets a small but significant  chip in the rim! Every now and again we used to root through our collection and condemn most chipped and cracked beverage pottery to the trash can,   but I  found a way to re-use soime of them which might tickle your fancy if you have a power or rechargable drill/screwdriver and can find a tile drill bit in a store near you for so veyr little.

This is a tile drill bit.

This is a tile drill bit.

The tile drill is not like your normal twist or wood work drill ” bit” – in fact it looks a tad like a spear tip but, as is good for glazed ceramic tiles, it is also ideal for cutting drainage holes in the base of those chipped cups and mugs you so do not want to throw away. It is surprisingly easy to drill a hole in the base of mugs and do let the drill do the work- no need to press hard.

mug plant pots

mug plant pots

 

Don’t forget to drop a piece of broken flower pot inside the cup to cover the hole for drainage ( a used tea bag works as well) before you add soil and the plant.

mug plant pots

Alas this favourite mug below was blown off the garden table and the bottom rim was damaged but not the mug itself. It  would not stand up anymore so I found it a place somewhere else and “planted ” it in the soil to keep it upright.

mug plant pots

 

 

 

Why not join me on my Facebook where I also share ideas, tips and photos as well as my twitter account and google Plus. I also have a YouTube channel for more gardening, household and photography tips – please subscribe there! You can  also find out more about my photography services by visiting my main website at www.johncoxon.com. Please  click on any of these icons to visit any of those sites. Thank you.

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