Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dahlia Pests: Readers Talk about Slugs and Snails

Brown garden snail
Dahlias are up and flourishing, and most of them are now past the major danger of annihilation by slugs and/or snails. However, those disgusting mollusks can still do significant damage to the foliage and even the blooms on our beautiful dahlias.

We've had some interesting comments on our February slug-and-snail posts from blog-readers, but comments are often easy to overlook or to miss altogether if they came in after you'd read the blog entry. So we'll take a look now at some of those suggestions.

European red slug
An anonymous reader wrote, "I use egg shells. Crumble them and sprinkle them around your plants. They are good for the soil also. If you don't use enough eggs, ask your friends to save theirs for you." A coffee can, suggested Anonymous, makes a good receptacle to leave with your eggshell-saving friends "but don't forget to pick them up often."

SAM71 asked if this method was really effective, noting that in the slugs in her Anchorage garden are "deadly." Elsewhere, I saw a comment from a gardener accusing her slugs of eating the eggshells.

Snail in calla lily
I tried the eggshell thing last week in my vegetable garden, putting coarsely crumbled shells around the new basil plants I'd set out. I was tempted to add some other slug-preventative (e.g. murderous substance) but I want to keep my veggie plot organic, so I decided to see how effective the eggshells were. So far, so good, although I think some of the teeny-tiny gray slugs found their way through; I should make sure there aren't any gaps. Next up on my the eggshell-application program are my precious dahlias.

Red slug on lettuce
Last week, RFM added a comment to the slug-blog. "Diatomaceous earth-- really powdered skeletons of something or other -- works for me." (I've used diatomaceous earth on my gooseberries to thwart sawfly larvae, and it's worked fine until the rain washes it away. If RFM reads this, I'd like to hear how it's applied: the ground around the dahlias, or on the leaves?)

RFM added, "I have NEVER EVER had any luck with the beer method. My slugs are obviously non-drinkers.

"I also go out with my flashlight and my plastic bag glove, and hand pick the little varmints," RFM continued. "Then I throw them into what my sons call "The Ring of Death" -- a circle of salt which means they will die, any way they sally forth. I am SO not into animal cruelty but I see no reason slugs should exist (same for ticks) so I put aside my morals in their case."

Amen to that, fellow protector of dahlias! And the same goes for snails.


RFM said...

RFM here: I apply the diatomaceous earth on the leaves and on the ground around the dahlias. It is not too attractive but it works. HOWEVER, after the slug danger passed, my dahlias were attacked by groundhogs and earwigs. It has been a daily battle ever since. Right now, ammonia-soaked rags around the garden, renewed every day, are keeping the g-hogs at bay and I sprayed some icky poison on the earwigs. I also festooned the dahlias with shiny things and pinwheels, because I read that might help, but I don't think it's working. This has been a very frustrating summer for me and my dahlia efforts. :-(

Andi said...

My trustee rubber gloves help me with these slugs. They are always visiting my garden. - Terminex

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