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Vermont Garden Journal: Slugs And Snails

06/08/12 5:55PM
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Start any conversation about gardening during a spell of wet weather and sooner or later the talk will turn to slugs and snails.  Vermont slugs and snails are not as large as the foot long banana slugs my friends in Seattle deal with, but they can be just as numerous.

I've even been noticing lots of little brown snails recently in my garden. No matter. Slug or snail, they both are after the same things; a dark, moist area to live in , decomposing organic matter, leaves of plants such as lettuce, hosta, and basil and soft fruits such as strawberries to eat.

So, let's cut to the chase and talk about slug controls. Many gardeners are already familiar with the usual list of controls such as beer traps, copper strips on containers, cultivating regularly to dry out the soil, and sprinkling sharp sand, crushed egg shells or oyster shells, and diatomaceous earth around plants. These controls are all effective, but here are a few other ideas to try for small infestations of these gastropods.

While slugs like beer, they also love citrus. Consider placing orange or grapefruit halves in the garden where slugs are active. Go out in the morning to collect and dispose of these slug ladened fruits. Caffeine is toxic to slugs. Sprinkle coffee grounds around susceptible plants to kill slugs and snails. Research at the USDA showed crabgrass being toxic to slugs. Consider harvesting some crabgrass, drying it and mixing it with corn bran and beer to create a cookie that will attract and kill these slimy creatures.

Finally, spread iron phosphate baits such as Sluggo in the garden. The slugs are attracted to the yellow pellets, eat them and die. Iron phosphate is safe for the environment and wildlife.

Now for this week's tip, sow California poppy seeds now on well drained soil in full sun. Just be aware these poppies self sow readily so plant them where they can naturally spread without becoming a weed.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking about apple pests. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Resources:
Slugs and Snails
Controlling Slugs and Snails Organically

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