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Dealing With Pests In a Container Garden: Snails and Slugs

by Fern on May 19, 2009

in Pests & Problems

It’s not the most glorious of subjects, but I’m starting a new series of posts about combating pests and diseases, with a special focus on the problems faced by container gardeners. I’m hoping to offer my own tried and true methods and to give you all an opportunity to share what has worked for you.

First up? Snails and slugs. Gross. Ick. Let’s get them outta here!

Photo by Caro’s Lines

Snails aren’t that big of a problem for people who live high off the ground, unless you inadvertently bring them up there. More than once I’ve found snails and slugs hanging out in nursery plants, so be sure to give your new purchases the once over before bringing them home.

But for those of us on the ground floor, snails and slugs can be annoying, not to mention gross. They leave their slime tracks on the ground, pots and plants. Not to mention that they munch on your baby greens like they are the best thing since sliced bread (which I’m sure they are!).

I have employed a three pronged approach with a lot of success. First, water in the morning not at night. It seems that our little molluscan “friends” are more active during the cool evening hours and will be even more attracted to your plants if they are surrounding by a lot of super moist dirt and wet concrete.

Second, keep up on removing plant debris from your pots and the ground beneath them. Snails like hanging out in that sort of stuff and you want to give them the cold shoulder, not welcome them in.

Third, sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on the dirt in your pots, and/or make a ring of it on the ground around each of your pots. Diatomaceous earth is made up of the fossilized remains of tiny water plants called “diatoms.” It looks sort of like white sand. Snails and slugs don’t like the sharp edges and will crawl away. Just don’t stick your nose in the stuff, as it can be mildly irritating to your lungs if you inhale it.

So, now I’ll turn it over to you guys. What have you done to combat snails?

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