Garden Pests · Seeds and Seedlings

Snails: A Garden Pest

I never hated snails until I moved to California. They are all over the place where I live. They eat my plants and leave behind gross slime wherever they go. And – as if that weren’t bad enough – they make a horrible crunching noise when I kill them after picking them off my plants. Ew… and now I feel like a horrible person…

Honestly snails weren’t even on my radar when I went out to check on my seedlings. When I came out to this disaster my first thought was squirrels or birds.

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Three empty pots where there were three, beautiful pepper seedlings.
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All that remains of one pepper seedling.
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I will not cry, I will not cry…

But that didn’t make sense. Those seedling pots are sitting very gingerly on shelves. (I know because I’ve knocked a fair amount of them over when watering.) So it’s hard to imagine the weight of a bird or squirrel wouldn’t leave a few knocked-over pots to help me narrow down my hungry culprit.

So I posted my pictures in a gardening Facebook group, asking for help. And when someone suggested the problem was slugs or snails, I instantly knew that was it.

I haven’t cleaned out the pots holding the remnants of my pepper seedlings; I’m interested to see whether the seedlings can bounce back. But I’m not very optimistic. I’m more concerned about my other seedlings. In an attempt to save them, I filled a shallow tupperware with beer and set it out among my remaining seedlings. My hope is that the snails will be drawn to the beer, crawl in the tupperware, and drown. (I say this in the most non-sadistic way possible…) I go out at night to check on my seedlings and the tupperware of beer. I haven’t found any snails in the beer yet, so I’m pretty skeptical about this trick which I’ve heard about from other gardeners. But I have caught a few snails red-handed on my seedlings. Luckily I’ve caught them before they’ve done any serious damage and was able to handpick them off. So, so far, I’ve been able to keep my snail problem at bay. Knock on wood…

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4 thoughts on “Snails: A Garden Pest

  1. I know the frustration of seedling well-tended seedlings disappear overnight. Arghh!
    I’ve been battling slugs for years.
    Slug pellets (magnesium sulfate) are best used in early spring when there isn’t much else to eat. Not all slugs go for beer, so I still have to go out at dusk and pick them off. My sister sets out boards, where they take cover during the day, going out with a salt shaker in the morning to dispatch them. Lastly, they won’t cross copper, so if you have access to copper flashing scraps, they make great corrals for your seedlings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Slugs, ugh! I had this problem in 2016. I used crushed up egg shells around the remaining seedlings and solo cups tipped over with a little cornmeal in them (they went into them and died on their own). Best wishes for the rest of your seedlings!

    Liked by 1 person

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