Friday, September 29, 2017

MY WORST ENEMY HAS ARRIVED

It was just a matter of time before we were finally blessed with a good rainfall. In all a total of 3.8" fell over a period of two days. I'm expecting the arrival of plenty of weed seedlings as well as bluebonnets and other spring annuals over the next week. But the one thing I have been dreading is the awakening of the snails after their long summer nap. They have arrived and they are hungry, and not for brown vegetation. They want fresh greens. How perfect was their timing to coincide with the young tender chard and kale leaves, as well as emerging seedlings.
Maybe other gardeners don't bother much about the slugs and snails in their garden. It depends mainly on what you are growing as to whether you will notice their feeding habits. They love vegetables, so those tender seedlings are first and foremost on their menu. But they also love the flowers of the blackfoot daisies as well as seedlings of larkspur and many other annuals-but not nigella (love-in-a-mist). If I sow some seeds directly in the ground I will never see a single plant, so if you ever wonder why a packet of seeds never germinates the snail may be your culprit. The only defense is to cull their numbers dramatically.


I have been out hand picking and have already done away with hundreds. It worries me a little that a new snail has appeared this year... this tiny round one. I am not sure yet if they are just babies but they are more difficult to spot in the gravel and I am not going to let them multiply into great numbers.
The more common ones for me are the decollate snails. When they first appear their shells are complete but wear and tear breaks off the tip.



In the gravel they try to bury themselves but that broken off tips is easy to spot.

 
They gather in large numbers underneath the blackfoot daisies and can shred the flowers overnight.



There are many suggestions for dealing with slugs and snails. Hand picking takes time but is well rewarded. Small containers of beer partly buried in the ground works well. Empty grapefruit halves turned upside down and left overnight will bring them running as well as the pill bugs. Carrot peelings placed under the shelter of a plant will attract them but you have to remember to remove the snails in the early morning before they return to their shelter.
Using baits is the easy way. Sluggo or Sluggo Plus, both certified for use in organic gardens, work really well. The Plus formula also eliminates other pests such as earwigs, pill bugs, army worms and cutworms. But I prefer not to wipe out everything in the garden just to control their numbers we have a reasonable balance.
On to the next pest of the moment. Caterpillars on my vegetables. These little devils have been making lacework out of my curly kale. I have been feeding them to the little fish in my stock tank pond. Talk about piraña activity when I drop them in.


I could spray with Bt but that involves making it up. Just easier to pick them off.


I didn't even notice the nymphs of the leaf footed bugs on the peppers until I looked at the photograph. You can just see them on the largest pepper. I thought they left with the tomatoes.



3 comments:

  1. Herbivores of all sizes (not the snails -- we don't have them here) are the main reason I didn't grow a single edible this year. Maybe next year?

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  2. You have a lot of snails at the moment! Good that you are getting them under control! It's funny, but I used to have a myriad of snails all over the place even more than what you are battling. They faded away and were replaced by slugs. These faded away and now I find very few of either one. On the other hand, I find a toad of some sort hiding under just about every rock or cool spot in my garden. Toads, toads, and more toads. It's wonderful and crazy at the same time.
    Do you ever find baby toads or full grown toads in your garden? I wonder if that would help ad an ally to help in the fight. BTW: My latest problems have been with beetle damage to my greens. They bother the plants all winter. Oh well....cant' win them all.... David/:0)

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  3. I wish I could send you one or more of "my" raccoons - the one thing they do well is eradicate snails. I use Sluggo when the raccoons go on vacation.

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