Hi all, Tara here – I take care of things in the back office at OwnGrown and, while my talents don’t lie in food gardening, my fiancé and I – along with our dogs, cats, frogs and tortoise Mo – give food gardening a good go and, this summer we have been working hard to change our little garden from an overgrown mess to our own little paradise!
A little background our dilemma
Although not our whole garden is a food garden, we do have a food garden section where we grow a number of herbs (Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Coriander, Oregano and Sage) and well as tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, and lots of chillies.
We decided to start small and as we got better at gardening to increase the variety of what we grow. That worked out amazingly and everything grew abundantly!
At the beginning of last Spring we did a bit of a blitz, collecting and removing all the visible snails we could find, tidying up and generally sorting things out a little.
With our snail free garden and a little TLC everything really started to flourish!
We planted cherry tomatoes, all of our herbs grew amazingly well and Mo even starting growing his own crop of large Tomatoes from his own stock of seeds (we feed him tomatoes sometimes ;)) With a little bit compost and mulch, everything did brilliantly and it wasn’t long before we had our first harvest!
It was late summer when we first noticed loads of tiny cone shaped snails all over our veggie patch. Initially they were easy to remove but more and more started appearing. The Marigolds started bearing the brunt of their attack as they went from growing really very nicely, to suddenly showing significant signs of stress and of course we just couldn’t keep up with the numbers. There were literally hundreds of these little critters! I gave Mike a ring and he quickly steered me in the right direction. With this and a bit of research, I compiled the following and I thought it would be nice to share with you.
Cohlicella barbara – Small Conical Snail with a big appetite
These little cone shaped snails are a small conical snail called Cohlicella barbara which were introduced to Cape Town from the Mediterranean region around 1909. The shell of this conical snail is usually less than 10mm long, they are greyish brown with
brown bands of varying width and have a dark soft slimy body within the shell. They are mainly active during damp weather when temperatures are 15-25 degrees C. They are less active during heavy rains and high winds. Unfortunately, a majority of snails are hermaphrodites, including these guys so all individuals may lay eggs. They usually mate during mid-autumn to mid-winter and the eggs are laid into moist soil soon after mating and the eggs hatch about 2 weeks later. They make their home under plants or debris during the day and sometimes climb vegetation or posts to avoid high temperatures. When the autumn rain starts, they become active again, with 1 -2 mm of rain triggering them to feed.
There seem to be a lot of solutions to ridding your garden of snails. Going outside in the evening with a headlamp is a great way to see and collect active snails and slugs and get the populations under control. In our situation though, this just wasn’t possible because of the sheer numbers so alternatives were necessary.
There is a great product on the market called Ferremol by a company called BioGrow. This is a certified organic Natural Snail and Slug Bait and its active ingredient, iron phosphate is a naturally occurring soil compound so when it breaks down, it adds to the soil. Even in small amounts it causes the snails to stop feeding. The product comes in a thin noodle form and stays on the soil even with a bit of rain. We have found this is a great midterm solution to our snail problems.
Apply the mixture to the base of the plants being affected by the snails. The mixture should be scattered, not piled. If the ground isn’t wet, it is best to water first and then apply to the soil when it’s a little damp.
I hope this has helped some of you out there to get control of your snail populations.
If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned, please get hold of us!
As I needed a very quick fast acting solution, the team suggested I mix my Ferremol with some Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard shelled algae. It is great for a number of things including use against cockroaches, fleas, ticks and other pests. When you mix the DE and Ferremol together, it works as a faster acting solution– the DE works its way under the snail’s shell which irritates the snail and so they avoid the area, which naturally prevents them from eating your plants. It can also dehydrate the snails as it lacerates soft bodied creatures. It is also quite sharp causing discomfort. The Ferremol then acts as a more permanent solution for those snails who are persistent at munching your plants.