Monday, 14 October 2013

Save The Snail!

Most gardener's don't like snails but I have a confession to make. I, Lulu Ann Burt love them! There, I said it! 'Nails (as I call them) are funny creatures and I love hunting for them in the garden. Trouble is they love eating the scrummy plants in the garden as much as we do! It's important to try and help look after our prized plants so here are a few of my top tips on being snail-savvy in the garden as well as a brilliant project to make your own snail which won't eat any of your prized hostas!


Me and my friend the 'Nail

As I love snails very much and as M&D feel very strongly about being organic we don't recommend putting down slug and snail pellets in the garden. These can be eaten by other animals or even children and can be very dangerous (as well as not very nice way to treat my friend the snail!) Here are some better ways to deal with them...


Ooh ooh, ouch!
Snails hate to crawl over anything scratchy so putting a ring of something like crushed egg shells or grit around the plants they most like to eat helps deter them. Watch out for any foliage that falls into the ring as that can be used as a bridge by the canny creatures!

A snail on a prized hosta

Ring a ring of hostas
If you have your prized plants in pots which the snails are attacking, try putting a copper ring around the pot – the snails won’t want to crawl over it and your plants stay safe. 


Copper rings can protect pots from snails

Snail hunting!
This is my favourite method - snail hunting! Swap your spade for a torch and get out at dusk and collect the pests yourselves. You will be amazed at how many of the wee beasties you will find!

Pull on the (fox)gloves
Sometimes you need to box clever and choose plants which snails wouldn’t have at their beastly banquet. Choose plants with scented leaves such as alliums, fennel and rosemary, plants with textured leaves such as lambs ears and lavender or plants such as ferns, foxgloves and camellias. All beautiful but relatively safe from unwanted intruders.

Cheers
A method well known in the gardening world is setting beer traps for snails. If your grown-up can spare some of their well earned bottle at the end of a day’s hard graft in the garden, ask them to sink a rinsed out empty can with some beer in it, into the ground. Snails are attracted to the smell and fall in the can and can’t get back out making it easy for you to dispose of them. 

Cheers!
Nematodes
Some gardeners turn to a biological solution in the fight against snails. A naturally occurring nematode (a tiny worm) can be introduced into the gardener by adding it to a watering can. They contain bacteria which attacks and kills snails. It lasts for about six weeks and doesn’t affect anything else in the garden. Despite the name no toads are used in this method!

Nema-toads
As you can see there are lots of ways of tackling snails but I think one of the best ways is to attract beneficial wildlife that feasts on snails. If you have space for a wildlife pond you can attract frogs and toads which love a slug supper. Creating a log pile or leaving a corner of old leaves may mean a hedgehog sets up home in your garden and it will repay you by eating up these foe. Or make a bug hotel or encourage birds into the garden to help you in your efforts.

Yawn, I'm tired after that snail banquet!

Other simple measures such as weeding regularly so snails have less places to hide, digging over your borders to expose snails and allow birds to eat them and lifting pots regularly to see what’s hiding below can all help. And are organic too!


A snail exploring in our garden

So, now you know how to keep snails out of your garden why not bring one into the house instead with this wonderful craft idea:                  

Paper Plate Snail

You will need:
  • A paper plate
  • A marker pen
  • Scissors 
  • Coloured paper or stickers
  • Glue
  • Paint 
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Pipe cleaners (optional)
To make:

1. Draw this shape on the paper plate:


Use your marker pen to draw the snail's shell

2. Cut off the top part of your paper plate to make the snail shape:


Ask a grown up to help with the cutting out

3. Use your coloured paper or stickers to stick shapes around the shell. Make your snail as funky and colourful as you wish. I liked learning about the different colours and shapes we were using as we did it:
Gluing is lots of fun. I liked sticking the triangles best.


Almost there - can you see the snail appearing?

4. Finally paint the body, stick on (or draw on) your eyes and if you wish, add some pipe cleaners to make the feelers. And there you have it - a paper plate snail! All the fun but your hostas will stay safe ;)


The finished snail - isn't he cute?

You can make themed snails too if you wish. Grandma and I made a lovely festive snail for Christmas!:


Deck the halls with snails and holly, tra-la-la-la-la...

Remember to email me photos of your snail creations or if there are other garden animals you would like to learn about and see a craft project on then let me know!

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xxx

Thank you to Kiwicrate for the inspiration for this craft project