Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Drinks are on me

All right the jokes over, it’s not funny any more. Who’s been eating the seedlings?

You may recall I previously blamed the sparrows, so I built a cover over the seedling table. I still blame them, but it can’t be them this time, unless they can unlatch the cover and fasten it back up again when they leave. If I didn't know any better one might assume it was that damn sneaky fox again grabbing a salad to go with its chicken dinner.

My friend Debbie suggested it might be cutworm, so I did a bit of research. Cutworms are the larvae of various species of month. They mostly live in the soil and come out at night to feed. Their highly destructive feeding method is to first cut the plant down by eating through the stem. Once on the ground the cutworm will keep coming back to have a little nibble. This method however does give them away. Finding seedlings flat on the ground, like a wood cutter has been through, is a tell tale sign of their presents. I did notice one of our seedling in this vertical manner, but mostly one day they are there, the next gone.

Based on the wiggly lines left on the inside of the plastic seedling cover, dear Watson, I conclude our suspect has one foot, and a very slimy one at that. But during the daylight hours none can be found.

So instead of hunting them down I thought it more civilised to shout them a round of drinks and challenge them to a game of 'drink you under the seedling table'. Bottoms up snails and slugs.

Look what we got here... a bit pissed are we? Come on it's only 8pm, the nights still young.

Determined to not be put behind buy this little incident, I nipped to the hardware store and purchased some seedling to get spring planting started. Yes it is disappointing, especially as everything around here seems to be getting eaten lately, but we just try, try again. The key is to try something a bit differently. With the next round of seedlings I am first going to grow them in bulk in a large container before transplanting into separate pots. This way there will be more plants than required. I continue to learn a gardener must always plan for loss. And not get to down about it.

Have you found beer to be an effective snail and slug killer? And what’s your opinion on the use of snail bait?


  1. Escargot
    I gathered a few snails from my garden and front verge. Regular garden snails are the same as the ones in the fancy French restaurants. They are nocturnal, so easier to find and collect when they are out at night. After rain is a good time. They develop a lip on the front of the shell when they are mature. Gather only mature snails.
    Keep them for a few days in an enclosed container. Feed them on flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, or bran. This cleans out any grit, toxins or impurities they might have eaten. They can be kept in a wooden box, glass jar, ice cream container, or a bucket. Not cardboard because they will eat through it. Put a cloth or net over the opening so they have air but can’t escape. The snails and their home will need an occasional rinse. For the last couple days before cooking, don’t feed them anything.
    Letting them out to play before they are cooked is entirely unnecessary. They seemed in a playful mood as they came out of the jar, and the water took a few minutes to boil, so we released them onto the playground.
    Before cooking, give the snails a rinse. Then throw them in a pot of boiling water and let them simmer for 15 minutes. Skim off the foam that forms on the surface of the water.
    Take the snails out of the pot, and out of their shells. A fork and a twist should do it.
    Give them another rinse.
    Fry ’em up in garlic butter. We served them with pasta and spinach because it was available, but bread and salad could be good too.
    This recipe is a composite of several found on the internet. I knew nothing about cooking snails before this, and had never thought to eat them.

  2. Good on you Kim. I'm not sure I could be so brave.

  3. Interestingly I said to Melanie we should eat the beer soaked ones, half as a joke, half not. She went on to say that they need some sort of preparation, fed on flour or something. So that put an end to the conversion. But thanks to you Kim looks like the conversation is back on the table. If they are perfectly clean, why not? I'm feel'n brave.

  4. Ha! We have tried those beer traps for our slugs and snails, and they work a treat, except we have so many that we were emptying every one (all six) out evey morning, and it got too expensive, LOL!!!
    Good luck with the snail eating! I look forward to future blogs about it ;)

    1. The expense, now that never occurred to me. I would imagine it took whole stubby to fill 6. Even at $2 a bottle that's $14 a week. Brewing you own sounds like an option.

      How deep were your traps? and did you bury them?

  5. I found they work well too - they work just as well with light as heavy beer which makes them a bit cheaper but like Mrs Yub I do find them expensive so only use them next to things I really, really don't want them to go near. I find the nighttime round up works pretty well as well.

  6. Multiguard snail bait is approved by NAASA for use on organic gardens and works really well for me.

    1. Now that's very useful information. I am warming to the idea of using it. Thanks L.

    2. No worries Jason. They have been my saviour from the plagues of slugs around my place.

  7. I tried beer traps once but they were spectacularly unsuccessful, but now I think I will need to give them another go when I start planting out my indoor raised seedlings.

  8. Well Bek the beer traps haven't been that successful around here either. In total I have only found one dead beer soaked snail. I have taken L advice and purchased some Multiguard.

  9. We don't have a snail problem, we have funnel webs to keep them down! I find beer traps keep the slugs we do get away better than anything else. There is an organic slug and snail bait you can order from the UK, but probably more expensive than a stubby.

  10. Wow funnel webs eat snail, well I be. Yes, ordering a product from the UK does seem excessive. The Multiguard product mentioned by L seems like the closest thing readily available here.


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