Controlling Snails and Slugs In Your Garden

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Egg Cluster

If you live in an area that is damp, you are more then aware of snail and slug damage in your garden. A single snail or slug can successfully get rid of an entire row of seedlings from your garden in no time at all. They can turn pretty green leaves into small slices of swiss cheese overnight. Several times a year, a slug or snail can lay two to three dozen offsprings at a time! Egg clusters look like small white spheres (similar to the size of a ‘BB’.) Eggs will begin to hatch in anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. Newly hatched snails and slugs will eat many leaves and plants as they mature from eggs to adulthood (This can take as little as six weeks!) To eliminate your problem you want to destroy the eggs when you see them. So they don’t have a chance to hatch and eat your garden. However, this isn’t always an option- you realize you have a snail/slug problem once its too late. Here are some methods to help cope with mature snails and slugs in your garden.

  • Keep all decaying matter from your beds. While leaves make a good mulch once they have died, they also become a good home and food source for snails and slugs. This also means, keeping out leaves from underneath shrubs that are near to the ground.
  • Cultivate your soil regularly, to keep clods of dirt from building up (This also unearths slugs which have burrowed under the surface!)
  • Keep shaded areas beneath decks clean (i.e. remove weeds and litter.)
  • Anything that can be used as a home for these pests should be kept out of the garden. These include boards, large rocks, pots ect.
  • Keep edges of your lawn trimmed. Slugs are known to congregate under the shade of unkept grass.
  • You can keep slug pokers around your garden, so when you come to face your nemesis you have the upper hand.
  • There is the option to fill a small bowl with stale beer and keep it in areas where slugs are active. They are attracted to the drink, and when they climb in they drown. Besides beer, you can make a mix of yeast, honey and water or even use plain old grape juice!
  • An old fashioned method heard from everyone is to take an early morning walk around the garden and shake some salt on the suckers (this is not always the most humane way however.)
  • Enlisting animals even works! Snakes, ducks, geese, toads, and Rhode Island Reds enjoy dining on slugs.
  • You can set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog kibble in a busy area, and check every morning with slug poker in hand.
  • Natural Barriers can work, and they include:
    • Cedar bark or gravel chips around your plants will irritate and dehydrate slugs.
    • Putting crushed eggshell around plants will also help by not only cutting and killing slugs, but by adding necessary calcium to your soil!
    • Certain herbs will repel slugs. They are rosemary, lemon balm, wormwood, mints, tansy, oak leaves, needles from conifers and seaweed.
    • Oat bran will kill slugs if ingested, so you can sprinkle some of that down. Natural barriers do exist, and work they include
  • Traps can also be helpful. You can create a slug trap by using a simple plastic bottle. Heres how!
    • Cut a plastic bottle in half and then invert the top part of the bottle into the bottom part to create a no escape entryway. The slug bait can be placed inside the bottle and will draw the slugs in where they will die.

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      Slug Trap

Thank you to The Garden Helper for the original information. You can read more here.

How to make a Simple and Easy Yellow Jacket Trap

While it is true that yellow jacket are a beneficial insect in the environment. They are doing nothing beneficial while swarming around your sweet drinks and barbeque food. Yes- you can spray pesticides and numerous repellants but that gets into the ground water and cant be around children and pets. It causes more problems than solving them. So here is a simple, and easy way to trap those pests without hurting the environment or your family.

Here is what you need:

  • A large plastic bottle (2-liter preferiably)
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 banana peel
  • Roughly about 4 cups of water
  • Razor blade/ knife

How to make the trap:

  1. Pour a half-cup of water into the 2-liter bottle. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and shake until dissolved.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and shake until combined.
  3. Add the banana peel (decaying fruit attracts yellow jackets)
  4. Cut a 3/4-inch hole in the top half of the bottle.
  5. Place the bottle near the hive, or in an area away from where you hang outside.

Thank you to Rodale’s Organic Life for the original information, you can read more here.

How to keep Squirrels out of your Garden

The warm weather brings new plant life, blue skies, gardening and squirrels. Squirrels are a gardeners number one enemy, sure they look cute and scurry from here to there, but they do serious damage to gardens. They eat freshly planted seeds, uproot bulbs, eat partially grown fruit and knock off the tops of flowers. Here are some tips to keep the unwanted pests from chewing up your hard work.

Here are some signs that squirrels have been scurrying in your garden:

  • Shallow digging spots in beds, The holes should be about gold ball or smaller sized holes. Newly planted seed beds are popular amongst the furry rascals.
  • Bite marks and missing fruit. Favorite fruits and vegetables of squirrels include but are not limited to beans, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplants and strawberries.
  • Dug up containers. If you have large planters that have been dug into, it’s a likely assumption a squirrel has been burying nuts and looking for seeds.
  • Flowers that are partially eaten are also a snatch for squirrels. They are fond to Daisy blooms, and also others like Daffodils. Missing petals and partially eaten center disk’s are a clue to a squirrel invasion.

There are many ways to help repel, or keep squirrels out of your garden. Here are some things you can do to control those pesky rodents.

  • Remove what attracts them. Fallen fruit, nuts and seeds can lure squirrels into your yard. Clean up the fallen plants and also clean beneath bird feeders and trees. Also make sure that trash can lids are secure, so you don’t have anything going through your personals in the hunt for food.
  • Repel them. There are many products online that can help cope with your squirrel problem. You can buy various sprays including capsaicin (what puts the hot in hot peppers), vinegar, essential oils like peppermint– even animal urines such as tiger and wolf!
  • You could also scare them. By training your pet to chase squirrels or just letting them run around in the yard it should frighten the pesky critters. You can also use randomized sprinkler systems or hang up aluminum pie tins to make noise.
  • By putting up chicken wire or fences, exclude the squirrels from even entering the garden. You can even put up a cage around the garden!
  • Protect any open soil from the digging of squirrels by covering it with cloth or chicken wire. You can also protect your plants by also wrapping them in chicken wire.
  • While many gardeners think that an effective method is to use squirrel traps, it is not the best idea. While its true you can just release them after catching in an open area, in many parts of the country they are considered a game species. Which means that trapping them alive, can get you into big trouble with your state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife or Game (So check with them first!)

Thank you to Julie Martens for the original information. You can read more here.

Aftermath of our Squirrels

Here are some photos of what the squirrels that live by us are doing. They keep chewing up some of our plants and the fruits we are growing in our garden! So far, we have lost some strawberries, one of our sweet potatoes, and some bulbs. Squirrels are the worst during the Spring. Curse these pests! 

Mosquito Prevention and Control

It’s that time of the year again, yes the warm weather is great especially at night. But with warm weather and long summer days comes our number one flying enemy– mosquitos. Mosquitos can be harmless and just leave itchy bites, but can also carry West Nile Virus which can be deadly. There are many ways to handle the control and prevention of mosquitos by just a few simple steps.

1. Eliminate any standing water that shouldn’t be there (i.e. puddles, unused plastic pools, wet tires.)

2. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week to eliminate larvae from growing.

3. Be careful when irrigating gardens and lawns, be cautious of using too much water.

4. If there are ditches near your home that contain stagnate water for longer than a week, report it to a Public Health office or Mosquito Control Center.

5. You can always purchase a trap like a bug zapper, to help with the control of adult mosquitos.

6. Reduce the number of spots where mosquitos can live such as weeds, tall grasses and vegetation. You can reduce these by cutting the lawn more often and putting down an herbicide for weeds or by pulling them out.

7. As a last resort you can always use pesticides, however the bugs can become immune to them after time. Also they can get into ground water and vegetation you grow which can be harmful.

8. Bug spray, Citronella candles, Oscillating fans, Tiki torches, amd even Listerine mouthwash can help keep them away when sitting outside as well.

You can read more about prevention of mosquitos and learn more information here.