behaviour of the local snail population

Combatting the Unpredictable Behaviour of the Local Snail Population

behaviour of the local snail populationPictured is my early sowing of container peas. They were flying until a few nights ago when the helpless little plants were decimated by a crack team of presumably very hungry and now very fat snails.

I know it was snails by the trails they left all over the remains of the peas. They didn’t touch anything else on the plot. I guess they like pea shoots.

The strange thing is that I never have problems with snails at the plot. There are hardly any there. Not like my garden, where whole armies of them slime about all over the place, normally munching on anything that takes their fancy.

The Garden Snails are Behaving Themselves
The inconsistency here is that they haven’t been a pain in the garden at all this year. Aside from one-night time scare, where I removed 10 of the troublesome shell-dwellers from my cold frame, I’ve not had any bother. In fact, my off the cuff mangetout sowing is looking gorgeously green and healthy (below).

There seems to have been some strange turnaround; almost as if the snails have got bored of the garden and headed for feasts at the allotment. I’m gutted about my peas, but I can’t really bring myself to get cross with the sneaky snails.

Too Soft to Kill Them
After all, they love peas like I love cake. As soon as anyone leaves a cake lying around unguarded, I’m straight in there. This makes it rather unfair for me to get angry with snails for eating their fave food too.

local snail populationI’m not sure I can kill ‘em either. Maybe I’m getting soft as I approach 30. Instead, I’ve been gently throwing the garden snails over the back fence, but tossing snails away is not really cricket on the allotments, as they’ll end up on someone else’s plot.

Putting Snails in the Compost Bin
I was told recently that a good place to get rid of a snail is the compost bin, as they eat up stuff and do some good in there. However, this means finding them at their most active hour, and all night snail patrol doesn’t really appeal (I’m definitely an 8 hour a night man).

I’ve concluded that I need to think more about the cake to save my peas. When there is cake in the house, Ailsa puts something in the way to prevent me from scoffing it – i.e. a cupboard or a tin.

Snail Deterrents
Similarly, I’m going to put some deterrents around my bounty. Garlic is said to be good for keeping them away, as it is thought they hate the smell of the stuff, so I’ve sprinkled a few handfuls of organic garlic barrier around my allotment containers.

I also collected a bag of shells when fishing as apparently snails don’t like sharp things under their feet. I’m going to scatter these around the plants in the hope that it’ll annoy the snails sufficiently to turn back should they set their eyes on the peas.

I’m told by one plotholder than cups of beer, dug into the ground, attracts the slugs and snails. They then fall into the cup and drown. Trouble is, I wouldn’t want to drown in beer for nicking cake, so I’m going to stick to the restraint rather than the traps.

I’m actually feeling quite Buddhist about the snails. Accept my fate, live and let live and all that.

Oh, and I better buy plenty of pea seeds, because I think I’ll probably need them…

8 thoughts on “Combatting the Unpredictable Behaviour of the Local Snail Population”

  1. Hi jono,
    Just thought you might want to try crushed egg shells around your Pea’s or anything else the Slugs and Snails take a fancy to. The shell tends to draw up the slug/snail moisture so they try to avoid going over the shells. Also heard somewhere that they avoid coffee grouts so I’ll be trying that too.

  2. Hi Jono

    This year for the first time I’ve been experimenting with coffee grounds and on my peas I’ve only been using coffee grounds as slug deterrant. I’ve still found slimy trails on some of the leaves higher up but they haven’t been completely devoured so it seems to be working – it also means I’m very alert in the morning as I’ve been trying to maintain a steady supply!!

    Another thing I’ve been trying is Slug Gone. It’s sheep wool pellets. You scatter them around the base of your plants, water the pellets (and your plant) and the wool fibre pellets form a mat over the soil. It also creates a mulch for your plant. Apparently the slug/snail does not like going over the sheep wool carpet. I’ve only just started experimenting with this. In theory it sounds great but I need more than a week to test if this works. If you’d like to experiment too here’s the link to the product with more information http://www.organiccatalogue.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2454

    I’ve just written a blog about peas too – must be a timely subject!

  3. Thanks Claire & Lea.

    I’ll be trying those for sure – we treat ourselves to a proper coffee in the afternoons at work, so I’ll save the granules.

    Slug Gone looks interesting, especially the way it also creates a mulch. Please let me know how you get on with it Claire.

    Nice post too (http://clairescrops.blogspot.com/2011/05/peas-please.html). I reckon I’m a week or so away as well; you’re not the only impatient one!

  4. Glad it’s not just me who throws snails over the garden wall cos he can’t kill them… 😉 Like you we tend to get them in the garden rather than the plot, weird isn’t it. Hope your remedies at the plot work out, its nto too late to re-sow those peas is it?

    1. Hi Paul.

      Not at all – I keep sowing peas and mangetout right into September. If we get a nice warm October, like we have recently, I tend to get a little bonus crop.

  5. Hello!

    I read that snails and slugs will return to the scene of the crime if you just chuck them over the fence. So I go out and collect them up after dark, keep them imprisoned overnight and then it’s off to the woods up the road the next day to freedom. Haven’t tested this theory out. Maybe some typex markings on their shells? Maybe not, life is too short to delve into the inner workings of a snails mind. Enough to know that they like peas and dislike sheep.

  6. I’ve been experimenting with laying comfrey leaves as a sacrifical offering around plants that I particularly want to protect, in the hope that slugs and snails will go for the comfrey first. Initial results are promising.

    If I do catch any, though, then they get smashed between two rocks. You get over the squeamishness surprisingly quickly…

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