Filtering by Tag: protecting vegetables from snails

Week 12: Urban Farming

As it turns out, I needn't have worried about the snails that appeared in our urban farm early this spring. Nature has a way of taking care of itself, and I could have spared myself the effort of researching humane snail deterrent options.

Late Spring Garden Harvest

There's a saying in psychology that gets trotted out to raise parental awareness about the likelihood of children being exposed to paedophiles. It goes something like this: 'Wherever you find prey in attractive quantities, you can be confident you'll also find predators.' The point is that predators flock to areas where they think they'll have access to prey. If you have children, take this saying to heart. Paedophiles gravitate to circumstances that provide ready access to children and it's your best interests to manage risk as if they're there.

The philosophy is drawn from nature and we've just had a classic example of how it plays out in our own backyard microcosm. Over the winter months we noticed a pair of Magpie Larks building a nest in the tree on the verge adjoining our vegetable garden. Magpie Larks build nests out of mud and they need ready access to water in order to build their little homes. They decided, apparently, that our backyard swimming pool, was an ideal water supply. We keep the pool covered all winter and that gave them an ideal platform to wade around on, collecting all the nice, wet sticks and leaves that had fallen onto the surface of the cover.

Garden Barrow

By early spring, they had a lovely little nest ready to go, and by the middle of spring we were admiring their three squawking offspring. Concerned about the possibility that they'd drink the salty water from the pool, we moved a bird bath into the middle of our vegetable patch, and we were gratified so see the beautiful little family drinking and bathing in their new ensuite spa.

This story had an unexpected ending, given the fact that we knew nothing about what Magpie Larks actually eat. You can probably guess the answer to that by now... they eat all manner of grubs that wreak havoc in vegetable gardens. Our snail problem, it seems, is now a thing of the past.

On a more mundane note, I'm pleased to report that we're harvesting mountains of produce from our urban farm already. We won't be buying salad ingredients for months and we're inundated with delicious berries. Sugar snap peas are on the menu on a daily basis and I picked my first giant zucchini yesterday. The tomatoes are flowering, we've had an explosion of passion fruit flowers, and we'll have cucumbers before you can say 'high tea at Buckingham Palace'. Crack out the fine china, cucumber sandwiches are on their way.

Passion Fruit Flower

Week 8: Urban Farming

The hot weather has arrived in Canberra and, barring an unseasonal exception, the risk of frost has now passed. Our garden is full of blooms and we're beginning to reap the rewards of earlier labour in our food garden.

LoveInAMist
LettuceandPeas

Our sugar snap peas are covered in flowers - a harbinger of tasty pods to follow - and we've got plenty of loose leaf lettuce ready to harvest. I picked our first crop of strawberries early this morning and we'll be enjoying them for dessert tonight in strawberry pancakes drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with vanilla soy ice cream.

Hannah and I picked a large tub of mulberries yesterday - our first of the season - and I made a vegan lemon, coconut and mulberry slice with them. We've been guilty, in previous years, of not making full use of our mulberry crop and I'm determined to be a better steward of our resources this year. The slice is delicious, so that's an encouraging start.

Strawberries
MulberrySlice

My research on humane ways to deal with snails has yielded some good ideas. I can surround my young seedlings with materials that snails dislike sliding across - things like grit, thistle leaves (or other spiky leaves) or straw. The straw is an obvious solution for us because I make our mulch with a combination of horse manure and straw and I was planning to put this on the garden in a couple of weeks anyway. It looks like I need to get cracking with that.

If this is not an option for you, you can also create a barrier around your seedlings using mesh or netting. The barrier doesn't need to be high and if it bends outwards at about a 45 degree angle, the snails will have trouble climbing over it.

There's a product called Escar-go Snail Spray, made from copper silicate, that snails are reluctant to cross. This is ideal for protecting planter boxes and pots.

Finally, Copper Slug and Snail Tape is an option. You stick the copper adhesive tape along the edges of your garden beds and snails get a small electric shock from the copper. This would be a last resort option for me but it's worth knowing about.

Roses

Love-in-a-mist (nigella) is one of my favourite garden flowers and I let it go to seed each year, throwing the seed liberally once the pods have dried out. I've got lots of beautiful blooms opening at the moment and I've used it for my posy this week.

LoveInAMistPosy