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Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Protect your garden from slugs and snails

  • This snail was found brazenly eating the plants in my yard last fall. Because it kindly posed for this photo, I didn't feed it to the chickens.

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    This snail was found brazenly eating the plants in my yard last fall. Because it kindly posed for this photo, I didn't feed it to the chickens.

Are snails and slugs munching down on your garden? They're sure having a good time in mine.

My daughter, nearly 3, likes to point them out every time she sees one. And she has a good eye.

And then she tells me to pick them up and feed them to the chickens. Did you know chickens eat snails? They totally do. At least mine do. It's a bit gruesome. Yet so satisfying.

Chickens, however, do not eat slugs. Well, to be more precise, my chickens do not eat slugs. They did for first time I offered them some. And then they spent the next 20 minutes wiping their beaks on the grass. Apparently I have persnickety chickens.

I hear you really want ducks to combat slugs.

Sadly, I don't have room for ducks. So I need other methods. I've been researching. Here are a few ideas I've come up with:

  • Hand pick the snails or slugs. After a rain is a great time to find them. If you don't have chickens, you can stomp the snails. Or, if you can't handle that, dump them in your yard compost bucket. (Only works if you have a good lid, otherwise your culprits will escape.) Soapy water will also kill slugs and snails. If you have kids, bribe them to do the collecting work for you.
  • Wet an area of the yard when the weather is dry. Then come back at night to harvest the snails or slugs.
  • Use coffee grounds or crushed egg shells. Apparently slugs and snails don't like how they feel.
  • Use a beer trap. Pour some beer into a cup or bowl and bury it nearly to the rim. Collect any victims. (At least they die happy?) There's a how-to here on how to make a beer trap if you want to get fancier.
  • Use copper barriers. The copper gives slugs a slight shock, keeping them away. This is great method for pots or raised beds, but less effective for large areas.
  • Use a product with iron phosphate, such as Sluggo. Look on the label to be sure it's effective on snails and slugs. You have to reapply this as it's eaten or dissolved by rain. Be sure to read the label carefully to make sure you're applying it safely.
Read more in an earlier story here.

Story tags » Gardening

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