In the past, I’ve tried many things; copper wire around the beds, trenches for snails to get stuck in and even painstakingly hand picking them at night with torch and kids but, by far the most effective method I’ve found to control them so far, is that of doing nothing at all.
When I say doing nothing, I mean it in the sense of not interfering with nature’s way of dealing with things. If you’re an organic gardener you’ll know what I mean, or atleast have a sense of what I mean. Sometimes, it’s better to merely give nature a helping hand by removing a rock from the river, rather than try to build a new river around it.
Of course, I say that from the comfortable position of not needing my lettuce harvest to survive. Perhaps my view would be different if the survival of my crops was vital to the survival of my family? Or, perhaps, it wouldn’t.
I’m also lucky in that I fell into a garden that had been abandoned for years prior to me arriving, so most of the work had already been ‘done’.
But what I can say, is that prior to having this little slice of the universe to rest my weary feet in every night, I had tremendous trouble trying to ‘control’ snails and slugs and stop them from eating my greens.
When I arrived here however, there was a pond already in place. It had been overgrown and left to get ‘dirty’ and wild for years and, as a consequence, it had become a vibrant hive of activity. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if I were frog, it would be the place to be for miles around.
All they do at this time of year is hump, which, I have to admit, looks like great fun!
Of course, the humping doesn’t last forever and when it’s time to get back to eating, they do an envious job of feasting on all the snails we have sharing this little garden. They don’t eat them all, or atleast they haven’t done for the past two years, but I rarely have the problems I used to have when I was trying to control things with copper wire or trenches or hand picking.
It’s early March now and I’m thrilled to see that our pond this year is more full of frogs than I’ve seen before and whilst that does give me hope for a snail & slug-free harvest this year, it does make me wonder how other people could benefit from the same.
I haven’t ‘built’a pond actively, so don’t have pictures to show you how to build one or anything like that, but what I can tell you is left to it’s own devices, dirty and mucky and (as my parent-in-laws would say) unsightly as it is, the pond has become it’s own source of life.
It used to have a pond pump, which has been unplugged for some time, so I think the lack of moving water and pumping has helped. It is surrounded by overgrown conifer style plants that are big and bushy and provide lots of shaded cover for wildlife and it’s been made to look attractive with the addition of a load of rocks up the bank where the pump used to pump water down like a waterfall.
The rocks have become covered in moss, so the area is damp and has, over the course of the last 5 or so years, become more and more shaded.
I can only think that by creating your own pond, in a shady area surrounded by plenty of rocks and plants for habitat, you’d eventually have your own organic snail & slug control in place.
The challenge, or compromise, I suppose, is if the area you’d need to create such a space is worth the space you’d lose for the productive cultivation of fruit and veg?
And finally, if I hit you on the head with a frying pan, none of it matters anyway, right?