Slugs and Snails

Oscar on the move
Latest Update 17th August 2016.

Slugs and Snails
  • Binomial name:                       Cornu Aspersum.
  • Family:                                   Helicidae.
  • Its impossible to eradicate slugs and snails from your garden as they are great travellers.  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.
  • I have to confess that the above picture is a staged photo shoot with my friend Oscar.  Since he so gracious posed for me, he was spared the usual rough treatment and evacuated to the luscious surroundings of the nature strip
  • 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 beds, and I use self adhesive copper tape to keep the molluscs out.  
  • After an initial clean up using low hazard iron chelate based snail bait, I rarely have to worry about them again.  
  • Very occasionally I find a few juvenile snails in a raised bed, but I think they gain entry as eggs in homemade compost.
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 preferably 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.
Organic Pest Control.
  • I grow my vegetables in raised Ecobeds, and to control slugs and snails, I run a strip of self adhesive copper tape around them 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.
  • Very rarely I find one or two juvenile snails in my raised beds.  I believe they get into the beds as eggs though the compost heap.  When this happens, I use a few low hazard iron chelate snail baits to round them up.  
  • These baits are not approved for use in organic gardens, so I use the bare minimum to get the job done.  They quickly break down and are claimed to disperse as beneficial plant nutrients in the soil.