Sunday, October 17, 2010

Moving at a Snail's Pace

Whoever coined this phrase obviously didn’t have a garden that was being devoured by snails. I don’t know if it’s the damp weather or if they just happen to be attracted to what we’re trying to grow, but our lakou has become a snail breeding grounds. Snails are eating our peppers, zinnias, collards, mustard greens, squash, nasturtiums, beans, cilantro, tomatoes, basil, arugula, chives, citronella, ginger, begonias, impatiens and hastas. We read that mint is supposed to repel snails. Not Haitian snails. They’re even eating our mint. So far the only things they seem to be ignoring are amaranth greens, fennel, oregano and rosemary.
some of the damage
Forget our pacifist values - this is war. Since we’re not into putting chemicals on our food, here’s what we’ve tried: ground up eggshells, coffee grounds, spraying strong coffee on the plants, yeast and honey traps, upside down pots as daytime traps and beer traps. They ignore the traps, cross the eggshells, and eat around the coffee grounds. Our latest course of action has been to go out at night with flashlights, pick them off by hand and squash them underfoot. I can’t bring myself to squash the really big ones, so I throw those over the wall or try to drown them. The dead snails are piling up and starting to smell. Meanwhile, the ones we invariably miss keep eating and breeding.

We’ve started sprouting seedlings indoors to give them a break for the first few weeks of their lives. But now there seem to be itty-bitty snails living in the sand we mix with worm castings to make potting soil… Aak!
Suggestions, anyone?


Anonymous said...

have you tried stringing copper wire or copper tape around your beds? I know this might be hard to come by in Haiti, but if you come across some it is well worth a try. I used to work in a plant nursery and remember copper tape being a big seller for repelling snails and slugs, they dont like to cross it.

nerkert said...

Sorry 'bout this. I know how aggravating it is to feel defeated by little critters.(Something gets my basil almost every year.)

Lorraine Jones said...

Salt... You should put salt around the beds... (not in because it may kill or hurt your plants). As a kid, I remember killing snails with salt.... they dry up in a heart beat! I loved my small garden in Haiti, and miss it very much! Sounds like you have lots of beautiful plants! Exciting! You should really try the salt... Hope it helps!

caleb said...

snail soup? thanks for the postcard. we love you guys


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