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Snails love seedlings

Snail Alert

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Recent rains in many parts of the country have helped to unleash a stampede of snails. Phil Dudman looks at some simple organic controls to help protect your crops from these marauding invaders.

Late night patrols are a good way to start reducing your snail population. Head out in into the vegie patch with a torch and a bucket and grab as many as you can.

Even during the day, you’ll find lots of them. Check under leaves and in the crevices of strappy leaf plants as well as under pots and then feed them to the chooks.

Aussie snails love a beer. Grab some old dishes or jar lids, place them around the garden and pour in a little liquid gold. They’ll soon come in from everywhere lured by the promise of a good time.

Coffee really gets their party started. Mix up one part strong espresso to 10 parts water then spray that liberally over the plants and surrounding soil once a week. The caffeine gives them a kick can’t handle.

If rain is persistent, it will wash off or dilute these controls. That’s when you may need to reach for commercial snail baits. Some products can be harmful to pets and wildlife, so read the packaging and get one that’s based on iron. They’re far less harmful.

And if you want to be sure, use an old drink can to make a trap. Make the hole a bit bigger first – for the fat snails – pop in some baits, then pierce the tin with a sharp stick, driving it into the ground. That way your pets can’t get to it.