picture of a garden snail

Controlling Snails Organically

In the end of April, when the snow pile covering my garden finally disappeared I discovered the worst case of snail infestation any of my raised beds and gardens have ever experienced. Last fall I created a snail nirvana in my small organic garden without knowing. At least I realized this and was able to correct the situation without the use of any chemicals.

Make Your Garden Less Appealing To Snails
My snail hotel began when I cut down my sunflowers and laid the stalks down beside my compost bin. I left the stalks there all winter thinking they would compost themselves. The stalks stayed intact and made perfect protection and humidity for the snails. We gathered all the wood, twigs, sunflower stalks and made a nice camp fire with them. We also removed all rocks and useless debris that could potentially provide shelter for the pests. Raking your soil to remove any crevasses and hiding places also helps limit snails.

Manually Remove Snails
The next step was the fun part, we picked up each and every snail we saw. We gathered hundreds of snails under the heap of dried sunflowers. They where on the fence post, tree trunk, raspberry bushes, parking lot, raised bed, Jeremy’s bonsai. Our back yard is not separated from the neighbor’s. So we ventured on his turf to pick up his snails before they check in to my snail resort.

As much as Jeremy can be a terrorist in my gardens he has a Zen Buddhist side. He insisted no snails be harmed. All of god’s creatures good or slimy have a right to live. We played and observed our little visitors until we tired of having them poop in our hands. Jeremy left with all the snails and dumped them in a neighbor’s yard several blocks away. His reply was, “Well they don’t garden.”

Egg Shells
Another method that I have used is egg shells around the plant. An inch or two away from the stem of the plant. Make sure they are cleaned so you don’t attract vermin. Snails won’t crawl over sharp edges. The egg shells slowly decompose and release calcium for your plants.

Wood Ashes
Wood ashes have to be used with moderation in the garden. Too much wood ashes in your garden will affect the soil’s pH. My garden is a raised be at the back of a gravel parking lot and I can put the ashes around the garden. The snails do not like to crawl in ashes as it will stick to their mucus.

Beer Traps
I read that snails are attracted to beer. I buried a beer glass in the garden. Snails fall in and drown. I like this method but when ever Jeremy sees one of my snail traps he removes it and lecture on no-kill traps only. Sighs…

Copper Bands
Copper bands, copper screen or copper tape are another effective and popular way to deter snails. They can be placed around raised beds or containers that you wish to protect. The top edge of the copper tape should be bent down at a 90° angle to form a flange, and needs to be cleaned occasionally with vinegar. The mucus on a snail will make a chemical reaction with copper that snails don’t like, so they keep away.

Encourage Natural Predators
Birds, toads, snakes, ground beetles are known to feed on snails and slugs. Make your garden friendly for these beneficial organisms. Plant mixed crops. Grow different hosts for pests. Avoid spraying chemicals that will rid the beneficial insects.

These tips have helped me keep snails out of my garden and attract new birds. I am always looking for gardening tips and projects so your comments and suggestions are most welcomed.

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