You Have Snail

Gardening is a challenge at the best of times. Whether your enemy be wind, frost, slugs, drought or sideways rain, there is always a new adversary for the gardener to do battle with. However, when you do triumph over adversity, it makes the reward even sweeter. As an organic gardener I have a policy of minimal intervention when it comes to pests, but who amongst us has not spent fraught nights worrying about what is being munched or targeted as we sleep? So, we unleash our limited arsenal of weapons  which in the case of snails is the usual saucers of beer, coffee grounds, broken eggshells or even holly leaves. In fact, anything that Google can recommend to bring some comfort in our hour of need.

Largely I co-exist with snails in a ‘live and let live’ way but each year as I plant my runner beans, my heart fills with dread, for snails love a young, tender runner bean shoot. Even if my runners are planted alongside lettuces, these are left unscathed whilst the beans are decimated. Sometimes four young plants can disappear in a night. It is soul destroying. This year, I began the gardening year with renewed confidence and armed with an industrial quantity of nemaslug, set out to ensure that slugs, at least, were not going to add to my problem. So far, so good. But it is here that I have to own up to being ever so slightly responsible for the snail population, because dear reader, the veg beds are bordered by dwarf box hedging which I installed early on in a bid to make this area both decorative and productive. It gave a utility area more of a look of a smart parterre but unwittingly I had created a lovely, cosy habitat for those fiendish snails. Sufficed to say that they lounge around all day under the hedge and then pop out at dusk to feed.

I have to finally admit that none of the traditional methods of deterrent are working and having recently caught snails slithering effortlessly across my crushed eggshells, I can report that the only solution to reducing their numbers and minimising the damage is to embark on a nightly patrol, ideally wearing an ‘attractive’ headtorch and armed with a bucket in which to deposit the culprits. Now I shall leave it up to you as to how you dispose of your prey. You may wish to drive them to a nearby beauty spot and re-home them in a more scenic setting or, like me, you may own hens! The choice is yours but the satisfaction of seeing new, unmunched shoots emerging from the runner bean plants is a joy to behold, and lets face it, gardening victories are thin on the ground and hard won!

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