Slugs and Snails

Latest Update 2nd August 2017.

Slugs and Snails
  • Binomial name:                       Cornu Aspersum.
  • Family:                                   Helicidae.
Why Slugs and Snails are a Pest.
  • They make their homes in established plant foliage or well hidden and difficult to reach places where the environment is shady and moist.
  • Although they can live on the tough foliage of establish plants, they like to forage for more succulent food.
  • This is when they do the most damage, as they will totally destroy recently planted seedlings and young plants.
  • Its impossible to eradicate slugs and snails from your garden as they are great travelers.  They will migrate from your neighbour's garden to sample the delights you are offering.
  • My approach is not to worry too much about their presence, but to exclude them from areas where they do most damage.
  • Having said that, I do embark on sorties against snails when conditions are right.  In my garden this means early morning after overnight rain, when the slugs and snails are on their way home after a few hours foraging on my lawn.  They are slow moving easy targets and I simply drown them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • In my vegetable garden, I rely on exclusion measures.  I grow all my fruit, vegetables and herbs in raised Ecobeds these days and I use self adhesive copper tape to keep the molluscs out.  I run the tape around the beds about 300mm off the ground.
  • I grow my herbs in a (drip line irrigated) 300mm high raised bed, and run the copper tape around the bed at 250mm above ground level.
  • Copper tape is a very effective barrier to slugs and snails.  They get a slight shock when they come into contact with it, and quickly retreat to less hostile surroundings. 
  • When I first established my Ecobeds, I cleaned up each bed using low hazard iron chelate based snail bait, but when I started growing my vegetables in them, I would occasionally find a few juvenile snails on my plants.  
  • I think they gain entry as eggs in homemade compost, but were easily removed using a few low hazard iron chelate snail baits.
  • These baits are not approved for use in organic gardens, so I used the bare minimum to get the job done.  They quickly break down and are claimed to disperse as beneficial plant nutrients in the soil.
  • Since then I have introduced hot composting methods which, because of the high temperatures (55C to 65C) involved, eliminate pests in the compost I use.  
  • Slugs and snails are no longer a problem in my vegetable garden.