When slugs and snails invade gardens they can certainly cause some real damage consuming up to 40 percent of their, weight attacking seedlings, roots and tubers of most plants.
To prevent invasion it is important to remove all vegetable refuse and other sources of food in contact with your soil, as well as bricks, boards and piles of debris in which they can hide in. The best method of removal is handpicking! Handpicking slugs and snails is most effective in the evening just after sunset, slugs and snails are more active at night and you will have better luck at finding them. Use a flashlight and check throughout the bases of plants, between rows and under leaves wear gloves or use a spoon to put these pests into a bucket, if you can relocate them even better – otherwise a bucket of soapy water will drown them. Continue this method of handpicking daily for a week or so and periodically thereafter. You will notice a reduction in population!
Handpicking is the ultimate removal method, but trapping slugs can also be beneficial! Place stale beer into a shallow container to a depth of about 1 inch (so the top of the container is level with soil) this will attract slugs and they will drown. Place these traps every 3 – 4 ft as needed.
Barriers can also help prevent these pests! Sand, crushed egg shells, clean wood ash are effective when sufficiently sprinkled around the bases of plants. Velcro, copper flashing, tinfoil and roofing shingles are also effective. These substances irritate their bodies and deter them from climbing.
I do not recommend using any chemical substances to rid these pests!
Did you know…. Slugs and snails are molluscs as are oysters and clams. In the Spring, soft sounds can be heard coming from slugs and snails under shrubs as the animals crawl out of their winter shelter. Slugs and snails are also hermaphrodites, possessing both reproductive parts!
Note: Relocating the snails & slugs into the compost help’s the worms to make new soil. 😉
Craig recently asked, “I was just wondering if I could gather snails from my garden and eat them? And if so how would I go about ensuring they were cleaned out ?”
What an interesting question that I am sure many people have wondered.
I have done a bit of research and found that the Caferouge website states,
“There are many different types of edible snails in the world. The most common are:
Helix aspersa: also called the “small grey snail.”
Helix pomatia: also called “the Roman snail.” If you’re cooking snails it’s advisable to buy them from the supermarket or from another reputable snail retailer…..Garden snails can be eaten, but you have to be very careful that they have not been near harmful pesticides. It is also important to clean and prepare the snails correctly.”
I also found an interesting recipe which explains how to prepare, clean and cook the snails on the bbc website in a food and drink article for BBC Somerset.
“Mendip Wallfish Recipe
This version of the recipe is by Pat and Bob Reynolds
Collect snails, Helix Aspersa, the common brown garden snail.
Put into a container in which they can be kept moist and can breathe.
Feed them on bran or lettuce or cabbage leaves for 7 to 10 days. This cleanses them.
Put in a sieve and dunk them in boiling water for a few seconds to kill them.
Take the snails from the shells with a small fork, wash them off and then cook.
To cook about a 100 you need a pint of water, ¾ pint of cider, a large carrot and an onion cut into pieces.
Make sure the snails are covered in liquid.
Bring to the boil and simmer until tender for about an hour – it may take a little longer.
Rinse in hot water to clean off the bits of vegetables.
The snails need to be fed lettuce for 7-10 days
Meanwhile put the empty shells in a saucepan with salt and water and bring to the boil.
Boil for a few minutes then rinse in cold water.
Do this 3 times more to make sure the shells are clean.
Dry shells in the oven.
Now to the snails.
You will need a pound of butter for 100 snails.
If the butter is salty you will have no need to add any more salt to the recipe.
½ teaspoon of each of the following,
Chervil, Dill, Fennel Seed, Basil, Sage.
1 teaspoon Chives
3 teaspoons Parsley
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper.
You can use dried or fresh herbs for this.
Grind up all the herbs together and add them to the butter and mix in well.
Take a snail shell, put a little bit of the herb butter into it, then a snail and seal off the shell with more herb butter.
To serve, put the snails on a tray and put into a hot oven.
When the butter bubbles they are ready to eat.
Serve with cubes of bread to mop up the herb butter.”
More on Eating Your Garden Snails