Eleven Ways to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails

Eleven Ways to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails

1: In per­ma­cul­ture we say, “Got too many snails? You don’t have enough ducks.” Slugs and snails are great food for ducks and chick­ens, much bet­ter than the processed food at most feed stores. The ducks and chick­ens are all over them in sec­onds. I per­son­ally am very fond of ducks, and good man­nered ducks can come into my gar­den any­time and look for snails and slugs. Chick­ens are inter­est­ing too. I have been told they have a lan­guage of 100 sounds, and I imi­tate their lan­guage back to them. I like to let the chick­ens in the gar­den in the late after­noon. They go for the slugs, snails and bugs, but are ready to leave for the coop at dusk before they dig up the garden.

2: Beer traps work great for catch­ing slugs. Place a saucer of cheap beer on the ground. The slugs are attracted to the odor of the beer, crawl in for a drink, and drown. Do sev­eral times, and soon all the slugs will be gone. Don’t let the beer become diluted with over­head sprin­klers or rain.

3: Non-toxic, food grade Diatoma­ceous Earth (Insect Dust) is very effec­tive for slugs. Diatoma­ceous Earth is fos­silized shells of tiny water-dwelling organ­isms. When ground up, they have micro­scop­i­cally fine, sharp edges. It is applied by sprin­kling around gar­den beds or indi­vid­ual plants, or mixed with water to make a foliar spray. It is a fine pow­dery dust and can be irri­tat­ing to the lungs and eyes, so read the appli­ca­tion direc­tions. Diatoma­ceous earth is less effec­tive when wet, so use it dur­ing our dry Mediter­ranean sum­mers. Don’t buy the D.E. used in swim­ming pools. Non toxic food grade D.E. is avail­able locally and by mail order at Peace­ful Valley.

4: Set half an orange or grape­fruit rind round side up or over­turned flow­er­pot or a board on the ground in the gar­den. Wet it good, and leave it overnight. Slugs gather under­neath. This can be a hit-or-miss method, but it some­times works really well.

5: Encour­age slug preda­tors like birds and toads. Robins love slugs. Throw some slugs to your favorite birds, and they will keep an eye out for more. Attract toads with an upside down bro­ken clay pot in a shady spot.

6: Water­ing strat­egy. Slugs are most active at night, or when the ground is moist and they can travel eas­ier. Change your water­ing sched­ule to water in the morn­ing so the soil or mulch is dried out by evening, which report­edly can reduce the chances of dam­age by snails and slugs up to 80%.

7: Sea­weed is a good soil amend­ment and a nat­ural repel­lent for slugs. If you have access to sea­weed, mulch with it around the base of plants or perime­ter of bed. Sea­weed is salty and slugs avoid salt. Push the sea­weed away from plant stems so it’s not in direct con­tact. Dur­ing hot weather, sea­weed will dry and become very rough which also deters the slugs. Don’t put lots of sea­weed on already salty alka­line soil.

8: Cof­fee grounds. Another cheap and good way to get rid of slugs is by sprin­kling cof­fee grounds around your gar­den, espe­cially around plants that are more attrac­tive to snails and gar­den slugs. The grounds will dry out in the sun, and these crit­ters don’t like to crawl over them. Using a wide, shal­low strip of cof­fee is best. How­ever, hor­ti­cul­tural side effects of using strong grounds such as espresso on the gar­den are uncer­tain. When using cof­fee grounds, mod­er­a­tion is advised.

9: Sprin­kle crushed egg shells around vul­ner­a­ble plants. Slugs and snails will avoid cross­ing the sharp shells and it will enrich your soil with calcium.

10: Another dis­like of snails is sand, which they do not like to cross. Put a band of fine sand about ¼” high (1cm) high around the gar­den edge or base of plants.

11: Seri­ous slug con­trol: gather 1/2 cup of slugs, 2 cups of water and a cou­ple cloves of gar­lic. Blend, and spray on plants. The extra mix­ture can be frozen for later use.

If you have other good for the earth ways to get rid of slugs and snails, I’d love to hear about them.
Send me an e-mail or face­book me.

How to eat snails: cap­ture the round snails and place in a box or bas­ket full of finely ground non-gmo corn. After sev­eral days, the snails guts will be cleaned out. They can be boiled and dipped in but­ter or coconut oil. Buen provecho!

By the the way, the long skinny snails pre­date on the round snails.


What to Do with Wood Ash from Woodstoves and Fireplaces

What to Do with Wood Ash from Wood­stoves and Fireplaces

From one of my Per­ma­cul­ture Con­sul­ta­tion clients

Dear Cathe’,

It was great to visit with you yes­ter­day. I have a ques­tion. We have been col­lect­ing ashes from Kathleen’s fire­place in a large trash­can in the garage. I was won­der­ing about using them in the green­house or gar­den. Do you know of any uses for wood ash? What do you think about putting ash in the compost?

Love, Kather­ine

Hi, Kather­ine,

Take wood ash from wood stove or fire­place in a metal bucket. Never store in plas­tic until ash is absolutely cool. This way you avoid burn­ing down buildings.

Use only high qual­ity wood ash. No ashes from BBQ grills, card­board, ply­wood, painted, or pres­sure treated wood. Hard­wood ash (oak) is supe­rior to soft wood (pine) ash.

Three Caveats
1. DO NOT USE ASH IF YOUR SOIL HAS AN ALKALINE pH of 7.5 or higher. It will make the soil too alka­line or salty. Alka­line soils are found in low rain­fall areas in the West. Use wood ash only in loca­tions where soils are acidic, like for­est soils and moun­tain soils, or places where there is ade­quate rain­fall in the warm sea­son .…not in alka­line soils like the desert. If in doubt, con­tact your local Mas­ter Gar­den­ers http://www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/

If you have been farm­ing or gar­den­ing with chem­i­cals, check your soil pH. Most chem­i­cals increase the pH and will even­tu­ally salt the soil

On the pH scale, 7 is neu­tral like pure water, below 7 is acidic with 1 being the most acidic like bat­tery acid; and above 7 is alka­line with 14 being the most alka­line like liq­uid drain cleaner. Nor­mal gar­den soil is typ­i­cally 5.5 to 7.5 pH. Wood ash is typ­i­cally 10.4 pH

2. Don’t use wood ash near these and other acid lovers: aza­leas, rhodo­den­drons, blue­ber­ries, mums, marigolds, moun­tain lau­rel, oak, pecan, and sweet potato

pla 3. Sprin­kle wood ash before plants emerge, in win­ter or very early spring. Don’t plant seeds or seedlings until at least two weeks after ash has been applied, or wait until new plants are a few weeks old to spread it. The smaller they are, the more dra­mat­i­cally plants may react to the sud­den increase in pH.

Wood ash has the same com­po­si­tion as lime­stone. Use it where you would use lime. If you put a pile of wood ash out­side, and it rains, it will turn to limestone.

The secret to using wood ash is to SPRINKLE IT or DUST IT.

Use wood ashes to:

1. Spread finely on the soil on your prop­erty. Use a large cof­fee can or a box with nail holes punched into the bot­tom. Spread so it looks like fine baby pow­der on the soil.

2. Enrich com­post. Enhance com­post nutri­ents by sprin­kling in a few ashes so it looks like a fine pow­der. Adding too much, though, ruins compost.

3. Com­post­ing cit­rus rinds. In a bucket of wood ash, place rinds of cit­rus or any­thing that is hard to break­down. Make sure to cover the bucket.

4. Cal­cium lov­ing plants. For calcium-loving plants like toma­toes, sprin­kle and spread out ¼ to 1/8 cup (NOT MORE) right in the hole when plant­ing. More is not bet­ter. It should look like a pow­dered baby’s butt.

5. Block gar­den pests. Spread evenly around gar­den beds, ash repels slugs and snails.

6. Con­trol pond algae. One table­spoon per 1,000 gal­lons adds enough potas­sium to strengthen other aquatic plants that com­pete with algae, slow­ing its growth.

7. De-skunk pets. A hand­ful rubbed on your dog’s coat neu­tral­izes that famil­iar lin­ger­ing odor.

8. Hide stains on paving. This Old House tech­ni­cal edi­tor Mark Pow­ers absorbs wet paint spat­ters on cement by sprin­kling ash directly on the spot; it blends in with a scuff of his boot,

9. Clean glass fire­place doors. A damp sponge dipped in the dust scrubs away sooty residue.

10. Make soap. Soak­ing ashes in water makes lye, which can be mixed with ani­mal fat and then boiled to pro­duce soap. Salt makes it harden as it cools.

11. Shine sil­ver. A paste of ash and water makes a non­toxic metal polisher.

12. Kill moss in the lawn. Sprin­kle lightly over lawns that have moss problems.

13. Tooth­paste. In the old days before tooth paste, ash was used to clean teeth. The poten­tial bio-hazards in the mod­ern world are the chem­i­cals used in fire starters, newsprint, and mag­a­zine inks. Using bak­ing soda instead tastes much bet­ter and is a com­mon practice.

14. Clean­ing white boards. Ashes are good for clean­ing white boards that have been marked by grease pen­cil or marker. It even works on per­ma­nent marker that has been mis-applied to a white board.

15. Melt ice. My per­sonal all time favorite. Keep con­tainer of ashes in car (or on the porch for side­walks) in the icy sea­son to add trac­tion and de-ice with­out hurt­ing soil or con­crete under­neath. In Alaska, we car­ried a shoe box of fine screened ash to get vehi­cles out of ice. Sprin­kle hand­ful of ashes out about a foot in front of the tires that have power (4 wheel drive –all tires; front wheel drive –front tires; rear wheel drive– rear tires). Drive right out of trou­ble as if you were on dry pave­ment. Elim­i­nates the use of salt for icy sidewalks.

Check out the com­po­si­tion of ele­ments in wood ash, below, from the Uni­ver­sity of Georgia.

Hope this gives you some ideas for what to do with all that wood ash from our unusu­ally long and cold winter,


Com­po­si­tion of Ele­ments in Wood Ash Mean and (Range) taken from analy­sis of 37 ash samples

Macro ele­ments in aver­age %, range of 37 sam­ples, highest %

Cal­cium 15 (2.5–33) 31 Potas­sium 2.6 (0.1–13) 0.13 Alu­minum 1.6 (0.5–3.2) 0.25 Mag­ne­sium 1.0 (0.1–2.5) 5.1 Iron 0.84 (0.2–2.1) 0.29 Phos­pho­rus 0.53 (0.1–1.4) 0.06 Man­ganese 0.41 (0–1.3) 0.05 Sodium 0.19 (0–0.54) 0.07 Nitro­gen 0.15 (0.02–0.77) 0.01

Micro ele­ments or Trace Min­er­als in mg, range of 37 samples

Arsenic 6 (3–10) Boron 123 (14–290) . Cad­mium 3 (0.2–26) 0.7 Chromium 57 (7–368) 6.0 Cop­per 70 (37–207) 10 Lead 65 (16–137) 55 Mer­cury 1.9 (0–5) . Molyb­de­num 19 (0–123) . Nickel 20 (0–63) 20 Sele­nium 0.9 (0–11) . Zinc 233 (35–1250) 113

Other Chem­i­cal Properties

CaCO3 Equiv­a­lent 43% (22–92%) 100% pH 10.4 (9–13.5) 9.9

% Total solids 75 (31–100) 100

Bored with your Job? Learn Permaculture and Work with the Earth

Bored with your Job? Learn Per­ma­cul­ture and Work with the Earth

Tak­ing a Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course is a pow­er­ful way to get up to speed on Per­ma­cul­ture. It is also an excit­ing expe­ri­ence that will be remem­bered for the rest of your life.

So what is Per­ma­cul­ture? Here’s a descrip­tion from Dave from Orcas Island, Wash­ing­ton. “If I really had to boil per­ma­cul­ture down to a sim­ple three word def­i­n­i­tion I would say “a design sys­tem”. In other words a process. Per­ma­cul­ture gives us a process through which we can take a piece of land. What is the goal of that process? It depends upon the goals of the per­son for whom you are designing.

How­ever, since per­ma­cul­ture has its feet deeply rooted in ethics, part of those goals will cer­tainly be the abil­ity of the envi­ron­ment to con­tinue to pro­vide eco­log­i­cal func­tions and the abil­ity of the envi­ron­ment to sup­port peo­ple. So you can use per­ma­cul­ture design prin­ci­ples to design a rural home­stead, a sub­ur­ban cul de sac, or an aban­doned urban lot. Depend­ing on your goals you can try to make any of these into a retreat cen­ter, a sin­gle fam­ily liv­ing space, or a drive-in the­ater. The per­ma­cul­ture design prin­ci­ples just help you fig­ure out ways to do it that are effi­cient, eco­nom­i­cal, and eco­log­i­cally harmonious.

…Per­ma­cul­ture encom­passes a lot of [dif­fer­ent] fields. Hope­fully, per­ma­cul­ture pro­vides us a way of unit­ing those fields so they begin to work together effi­ciently. I remem­ber hear­ing a story about a con­struc­tion site where the cab­i­net maker was walk­ing out of the house feel­ing sat­is­fied about the beau­ti­ful cab­i­nets he just installed. Mean­while, at the same time, the elec­tri­cian was walk­ing into the house with a hole saw to drill a hole in the cab­i­nets so he could run a con­duit for the light­ing. Sounds like an orches­tra with no con­duc­tor, right? While that exam­ple is from con­struc­tion, that type of thing is going on all the time when folks try to approach sus­tain­abil­ity from within only one dis­ci­pline. Hope­fully, the per­ma­cul­ture design process gives you an over­ar­ch­ing plan for how every­thing works together. Per­ma­cul­ture requires a bit of retrain­ing for your mind.”

And about the Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course, Gary Gre­gory of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia says “It was well worth the cost. I have endur­ing friend­ships from that time. There are a lot of things on this planet that have more value than money.”

The Per­ma­cul­ture Design Course is 72 hours long, gen­er­ally tak­ing from 8 to 14 days to com­plete. It fol­lows the syl­labus cre­ated by Bill Mol­li­son and uses his book The Per­ma­cul­ture Design Man­ual as the course text. A cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion is given at the end of the course. This cer­tifi­cate allows the grad­u­ate to use the word Per­ma­cul­ture in adver­tis­ing, teach Per­ma­cul­ture and also be a Per­ma­cul­ture Design Consultant.

Wouldn’t you rather be play­ing in the moist sweet earth?

Follow up Intro to Practical Permaculture Nov 3/4, 2007

Fol­low up Intro to Prac­ti­cal Per­ma­cul­ture Nov 3/4, 2007

Since it is sup­posed to rain Sat­ur­day, I mulched the swale our class built with bar­ley straw. The straw had been sit­ting around since the begin­ning of the sum­mer, so it was a lit­tle wet and decom­posed, (just per­fect) and I am excited to tell you, there were mush­rooms grow­ing out of it. I will post pho­tos soon on my website.

Which reminds me…in case I didn’t say this at the class.
My old per­ma­cul­ture part­ner, Bill Steen who went on to write The Straw Bale House did an exper­i­ment. He had an old rock-hard clay dri­ve­way in “the stinkin desert.” He set out a bale of alfalfa (whole, just one bale sit­ting there). About 6 months later when I was vis­it­ing, he told me to come take a look. The “stinkin desert” under the bale had trans­formed and you could put your hand down 8 inches into soft sweet soil, FULL OF WORMS.

If you are not sure where to start, set out some bales of alfalfa.

As a reminder,
Hay usu­ally refers to alfalfa, which is a nitro­gen fixer, or some type of tasty grass.
Straw is the dried plant left­over after thresh­ing the grain. Could be bar­ley, wheat, rice, oats, etc.
Both have seeds, despite what you read. Some peo­ple say straw doesn’t have seeds, but the bar­ley straw had bar­ley babies sprout­ing out of it.

In my mind, alfalfa hay is my favorite input when you work­ing on rehabing abused soil, doing an ini­tial sheet mulch, or start­ing a plant­ing area.
Straw is great for gen­eral mulch until you get your mulch plants up and ready to be harvested.

When you get projects going, let me know. Take pic­tures. I would love to post them to my website.