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Perfectly Imperfect Life..........

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Snails - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Pretty?

The Bad

 Now I know your wondering
 ''what in the world could be "good" about
Snails in the garden?''
The Bad
That's what I thought also, until a few years ago.
Not only was I seeing a ton of regular garden snails, but I also noticed a bunch of different smaller ones.
My early morning "pickings" weren't making a dent in
 their population like it usually did.
The Good?
I thought 'Oh Great, they've sent word out to all their cousins!'
and I'd have no garden left pretty soon.
I don't like to use any kind of chemicals in the garden ,
not only because of our pets, but for us too. 
I prefer to "keep the garden in balance" using Nature's methods,
for every bad bug there's a beneficial bug out there waiting to devour it.
But drastic times sometimes calls for drastic measures.
I was pretty discouraged and against every ounce of my being..... broke down and bought some snail bait. :(
I put it out and the next day I had a Snail graveyard.
There were more kinds I hadn't seen before -
then hindsight set in.
Why didn't I research these different looking snails?!
The Good
Well, I researched.
I found that there are predatory Snails that feed
 on regular garden Snails! Carnivorous Snails? Who knew?!
What had I done!
I killed the poor Beneficial's that were helping me.
I was sick and so mad at myself.
The Ugly
This year I purchased my regular veggies,
I planted and imagined all the
Tomatoes, Cukes, and Zukes I would have.
I went out the next morning and this is what I found:


This was what was left of one of my poor Tomatoes!
I'd show you the other Toms, Zukes, and Toms but there was absolutely NOTHING left. Eaten all the way to the ground!
One thing surprised me though.
The Cuke I had put a bird cage over (to protect from the dogs) seemed to deter the Snails too. Weird.

As you can see I have now surrounded the cage with egg shells. Snails don't like crawling over the jagged edges and thus stay away. But why didn't they just crawl in there prior to my egg shell barrier and eat the Cuke, it was the same as the others they ate. Again - weird.
I will not be buying Snail Bait, I have learned my lesson,
one I had known but in desperation forgotten.
So when I'm asked what's for breakfast?,
the answer will be eggs,
for lunch? eggs, 
for dinner? eggs!!
I need more shells darn it!
And I need to replace the plants that were eaten...grrr!
I know there are other methods to lower the Snail population.
 I will be putting out beer for them in tuna cans, praying the Beneficial's won't be tempted to the hooch. 
Snails hate copper also, I don't happen to have copper strips on hand, I've heard pennies also work, but the way the dogs run around they'll probably be flipped hear and there.
So I'm sticking with my egg shells which are
also an excellent soil additive. 
I remember when I was little my sister and I would collect empty Snail shells and paint them with nail polish. Hey, we grew up on a farm! We played with lots of unusual things ;) 
We had quite the collection.
I also made my little red wagon into a Snail home 
and made them live in there by placing a piece of wood across the top. LOL
Boy, what fun our kids miss out on today with all the electronics and video games they have!  

I was surprised to find some examples of painted snails on Bing!
Didn't realize others painted snails too!
See, we weren't that weird!

Hmm, You just may one day find painted Snails in my Shop! 

So remember there are a lot of good bugs out there in your garden, and many other ways to deal with the bad ones besides pesticides.
 Garden Beneficial's
and what they eat:
Lace Wings - Aphids
Lady Bugs - Aphids, Thrips, Mealybugs, Mites
Assassin Bugs - Beetles, Caterpillars
Praying Mantis -  Anything that moves, unfortunately sometimes that includes Beneficial's
Ground Beetles - Slugs, Cutworms
Damsel Bugs - Aphids, Caterpillars, Thrips, Leafhoppers
Hover Flies - Larva ~ aphids, Adults ~ Pollinate
Parasitic Wasps - Larva ~ Cutworms, Tomato Hornworm
Tachinid Fly - Larva ~ Caterpillars, Earwigs

While we're talking bugs,
Earwigs just love Hollyhocks.
Just look at those leaves!
 Earwigs ride the line between bad and good. They are beneficial in that they eat Aphids, Mites, and Nematodes. However, they also eat ornamental and vegetable plants, particularly Dahlias, Zinnias,  Hollyhocks, Lettuce, Strawberries, and more.
One way to help control Earwigs is to fill tuna cans with 1/4'' of oil and sink them into the ground close to the plants
  The Earwig's only insect predator is the Tachinid Fly. Attract this Fly by planting Alyssum, Calendula, Dill, Parsley, and Fennel.

 Sowbugs are another I always thought was bad.
I had to learn to stop stepping on them!
Sowbugs are considered beneficial because they are effective decomposers. Sowbugs like to live in compost and eat dead vegetation, including rotting wood.  They feed primarily on dead plant and animal matter and this is what makes them beneficial in nature. They are very effective decomposers and can be one of the most important parts of a compost heap.

Organic Pest Control
A few ideas ~

When it comes to Aphids, the easiest way to control them is with a water hose. A strong blast of water every few days will knock them off so that beneficial insects can eat them.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth 
No preparations necessary!  DE kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests.

All Purpose Insect Spray

Chop or liquefy one garlic bulb and one small onion.
Add 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.
Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1 Tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the strained liquid; mix well.
Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides.
Store the mixture for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator. 


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