Snail Patrol

this snail is looking so happy because he just ate Mike's bok choy drawn by MikeV There are too many snails in my garden devouring plants that I want to eat. I’ve always used metaldehyde snail bait which kills dogs if they eat the bait. When I was a kid our dog Goldie ate some. Taking her to the vet immediately and paying lots of money ensured she didn’t die. My cat Wicca once exhibited symptoms that I thought meant he’d eaten snail bait and I raced him to the vet at 9pm. Cats aren’t scavengers and not usually stupid enough to eat random things they find. When Wicca vomited with no pellets visible, this was added to the list of mystery illnesses he’s survived that cost me too much money.

I recently found out the bait also kills bob-tail lizards if they eat snails which have eaten the poison. I’ve had a bob-tail lizard visit my garden and I’d like to see him again, so I need an alternative snail killer.

Nada from Grandiflora has photos of produce from her mother’s garden, which I was very jealous of, particularly the broccoli which was nibble free. I asked Nada how she stopped snails from devouring her broccoli and she replied,

You can use coffee diluted in water to deter snails and slugs. My sister who is staying at my mother’s has been doing this and it works well. You spray it around the plant. There are still pests around but it reduces their number significantly.

Copper is also a deterrent – the new type of snail pellets have that in it, so it’s not harmful to wildlife, pets etc. It costs about 40% more than the regular snail pellets. I’ve read that people have used copper bands and even stripped speaker wire to put around garden beds to stop snails.

I tried spraying diluted coffee on the leaves. It seemed to be working, but I was doing in every day and that didn’t fit in with my lazyst schedule. After reading at Gardening Australia that it should be reapplied after rain or watering, I may have been overdoing it. I wonder if dew washes it away. Lis from A Year in a Day told me that coffee grounds sprinkled on the soil works better, but Mike only drinks instant coffee (it was his coffee that the snails were sharing).

Then I went to the shop (unfortunately, my fav pastime) and found snail bait made with iron chelate (Iron EDTA complex) which only kills snails and slugs. It doesn’t work by paralysis (unlike metaldehyde bait) and so the snails crawl away to hide and die later. I guess I can then pretend that I never killed them. Like metaldehyde bait, I only have to put the bait out every so often, but if it isn’t eaten it gets broken down in the soil as iron. And it’s certified by the NASAA as an organic farm input. So my vegies are actually organic these days.


4 thoughts on “Snail Patrol

  1. Hey Clare,

    The quote almost makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about! HA!

    But if you don’t have coffee grounds, you could ask for them from a cafe….they’d be just going to landfill with the rest of their garbage. And you can also give the coffee grounds to the worms – they love it. Your favourite coffee place, wouldn’t mind I’m sure.

    Just a thought.

  2. Nada, you write a blog, doesn’t that make you an expert :)

    Good idea about asking a cafe for their grounds. I might go to every place on the cafe strip.

    Your worms get a classy diet. My worms are jealous, only potato peelings and snotty tissues round here.

  3. I hate to tell you this guys but I’ve got silver snail or slug tracks over the thick thick layer of coffee grounds I put down and half one of my Kale plants gone! …. sob, sob, sob …. the copper stripping is working so far but can’t do the whole yard with that!

  4. Your kale looked so beautiful!!! My commiserations to you.

    Even though I said I’d go to cafes and ask for their grounds – I never did.

    I’ve been using iron chelate made by Multicrop. It is more consumption, but its made in Australia (and it has less distance to travel to you than me). And it works!

    In the past my dad used the nasty snail bait (which until recently I did too) and I told him about this product. He told me that he hasn’t had snails this year. He lives 1/2 hr walk away from me – that’s not fair.

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