Snail attack

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Imagine my distress this morning when I discover my dahlia de-nuded of most of its leaves. Lounging around in the topmost branches was a fat snail...

In two large pots I am growing big white lilies (lets not talk about the dapper scarlet lily beetles and their repulsively slimy offspring at the moment - too depressing) and a luscious deep red dahlia called Arabian Night. Around the feet of the dahlia is a copper ring which, designed to deflect slugs and snails. The copper creates a sort of electrical frisson which makes the gastropods shy away and head for the hills.

SnailImagine my distress this morning when I discover my dahlia de-nuded of most of its leaves. Lounging around in the topmost branches was a fat snail of insouciant attitude who fixed me with a steely glare as if to say "Yeah, you got a problem,mate?" To which I replied "Well yes, actually I do. This is my dahlia (lovingly grown from a small tuber) and I purchased this patent copper ring to prevent your accessing it. Would you be so kind as to tell me how you managed to bypass my carefully laid defences?"

So what's the answer? Did he swing in on a rope? Did he parachute or abseil? Did he tunnel under the wire? Or did he just grit his teeth (snails have thousands of teeth so that is a lot of gritting!) and climb the copper? My favourite theory is that he climbed a lily stalk and fell off landing within the protective ring. It's important that all of a plant is enclosed within the copper - if leaves hang down and create easy bridgeheads for armies of molluscs then the copper ring might as well be made of marshmallow for all the good it will do.

Anyway, all that's certain is that the dahlia needs replacing (or at the very least intensive care) and the snails have won yet another victory in the long war of horticultural attrition.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Snail attack
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 17/07/2007 at 22:07

I too heard of these marvellous copper rings. But still these snails cannot be beaten, what about salt on the pot soil, would that work?

Gardeners' World Web User 18/07/2007 at 11:48

I think this year must be 'the year of the snail'. Every morning I go out and collect between 5 and 18 of the beastly things. Just when I think I am getting somewhere near seeing the back of them and only picking up 3 or 4, the next morning I find 10 or more. What is the answer? They have eaten my courgette and Market More cucumber, climbed the bean poles and eaten the leaves 3ft up. If I was French I would be rubbing my hands in glee and saving pounds on meat bills instead I am spending a fortune on pellets!

Gardeners' World Web User 19/07/2007 at 01:20

My girlfriend and I have been growing our own vegetables for the first time this year. We were so upset to go out one morning and find half of our budding crop eaten away by snails. We bought some pellets (pet friendly for our black cat) from the garden centre and sprinkled liberally, and that seems to have pretty much cured the problem. There are still plenty of snails we find lurking in the garden though, which I have now taken to moving to the other side of the road in the front.

Gardeners' World Web User 19/07/2007 at 18:13

What about the birds that were supposed to eat slugs? There was a big fat juicy slug on top of the compost bin, exposed to the elements and not a single slug-eating bird to be seen.

Gardeners' World Web User 20/07/2007 at 16:23

It does appear to be the year of the slimy mollusc, since June 13 my wife (head slug hunter) has collected over 1350 slugs and snails. I do not think moving them helps as they seem to know where the best food can be found. The birds that eat them like thrushes are not around these days so the only way to protect your crops is to collect and dispatch them.

See more comments...