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Slugs and Snails - friend or foe?

Love them or loathe them, slugs and snails are here to stay - and a good job too as they are part of the ecosystem, cleaning up the garden and providing wildlife with nutritious food.

Slugs and Snails
Slugs and Snails - friend or foe

Slugs and snails are talented Houdinis hiding out of sight and chomping though our best flowers and vegetables, especially at night. Why do they climb up the inside of my polytunnel? How they survive in the heat, I have no idea, but last year (2022's) hot dry summer in England did reduce their presence and damage considerably.

I once worked alongside some keen gardeners where coffee time conversation verged towards how to prevent snail damage. We turned to Denise, whose PhD had been on snails, and her advice was to remove them when they were small. Look under the rim around the outside of the pots. And what do you do with them? we asked. "Eat them" she replied, between mouthfuls of biscuit.

How many of us have contemplated snail farming, or heliciculture, to raise edible snails? Snails are rich in protein, calcium, minerals, essential amino acids and iron, they contain zero fat, and are low in cholesterol. What's not to like? Well, maybe escapees?

A teacher I met told a tale of a very successful fundraising event at her school. One of her colleagues brought a tin of snails back from her holiday in France. They advertised and staged an event, using the school hall, and sold tickets - a LOT of tickets - to pupils and parents to watch the head teacher, on the school stage, eat the whole tin of snails.

Slugs and snails - is the only difference a shell?
Slugs and snails - is the only difference a shell?

Such an amazing structure and pattern to the shell. Will visit Fibonacci patterns in future posts.

Meanwhile, late winter is a good time of year for gardeners at risk of snails eating their best plants and crops to look underneath ground cover fabric, and in nooks and crannies to remove unwelcome visitors and any of their eggs. I just feed any I find to my ducks as a treat.

Slugs and snails a tasty treat for Val's ducks
Slugs and snails a tasty treat for Val's ducks

Photo taken before UK wide poultry lock down.

Plants in my garden which slugs and snails don't eat:

Snowdrops, winter aconites, hellebores, crocus, daffodils, aquilegia, roses, jasmine, gladiolus, brambles, nettles (dead and stinging), ajuga, salad rocket.......


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