What is the best organic way to eliminate snails and slugs from the garden?
organic snail pellets?
only using tools made of copper?
Well those would be good methods to control these annoying pests, but they have limitations.
For example: organic granules that kill snails are not good for the soil. When I was using granules in my garden a year ago, they were very efficient when spread regularly, but they also killed earthworms.
If you‘ve ever heard about permaculture, you probably know that you should turn a problem into a solution. For example: if you have slugs and snails in your garden, you should get some ducks. Ducks will… eat your problem and maybe even give you an egg or two. There is a saying:
“You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency!”
Obviously, this is one possible solution to slugs and snails problem. But the fact that slugs are eating your plants, tells you something and it is not a good news.
You don’t have a duck deficiency, you have a soil nutrient deficiency!
Yes, the fact that your organic grown (or not) greens, vegetables and fruits are being eaten by snails is a proof that they are lacking in some nutrients for optimal growth and performance. It’s as simple as that… Let me tell you my story:
How I have beaten snails and slugs problem in my garden
I have struggled with snails and slugs in my garden since the beginning. I was using organic mulch on my beds because I wanted to increase organic matter content of my soil, control weeds and increase soil fertility. For a fertilizer I was using basalt rock dust, seaweeds and urine. Other significant source of nutrients was very hard, calcium rich tap water* I was sometimes using to water my plants.
My plants were doing OK, but there was nothing worth to mention on the blog.
Then I read “The Ideal Soil” and I realized how unbalanced the soil fertility program was for my garden. Although there was plenty of calcium, magnesium, trace minerals, micro nutrients (all that basalt rock dust, sea water and seaweed mulch) and plenty of nitrogen and potassium (from the wee), my garden didn’t have any significant source of phosphorus.
When I changed it, by adding plenty of bone meal (that’s rich in calcium and phosphorus) and a bit of fish meal for a quick phosphorus boost, the results were almost like magic. During a few warm and sunny days my plants had just started to grow great, even though it was late winter and early spring in UK. And the best part was that my plants have become resistant to slugs and snails. Yes, the slugs and snails didn’t eat my greens, even though greens were young and succulent.
Why were my plants immune to snails and slugs damage? It’s because I have balanced soil nutrients. It allowed my plants to produce their own protection. On the top of that, because nutrient dense fruit and vegetables have more stuff in them, snails, slugs and other insects can’t digest them because the plant sap (juice) is too dense.
Think about adding 1 scoop of whey protein powder to the milk shake from McDonalds and trying to drink that through the straw. That’s sort of impossible. In a similar manner, a lot of simple animals cannot suck off plant saps (aphids for example) if the brix reading** is high.
* It’s a good idea to analyze the water you are using for your irrigation as it might contain a lot of nutrients.
**Brix reading is strongly correlated with nutrient density