Snails – By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening”

With morning temperatures a mere 67 degrees and afternoon temperatures in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, you need to get out into the garden and do a few maintenance chores. Those of us that planted our gardens in September should be seeing the results of our labor. Vegetables are growing and so are the weeds. Now is the time to pull those nasty weeds and remove them from competing for fertilizer and nutrients with our vegetables. Many weeds also are the harborage to insect pests which then climb or jump on our good plants. Aphids, snails, slugs, and caterpillars climb the weeds and then infest our vegetables.

            You should either pull the weeds by hand or if that is too much work, you can use a product like Round-up. Round-up can be purchased at any garden center and once mixed with water, just spray the weeds and in a week or so…goodbye weeds. Be sure to mix the product according to the label and only spray the weeds as Round-up will also kill the good plants if you get any on them. Only spray the weeds when the wind speed is near zero to reduce drift. Some people use pieces of cardboard between the weeds and the plants to be sure none of the Round-up gets on the good plants. Other people use paint rollers and paint just the weeds. Either way your garden will love you for this.

            Snails and slugs are a different problem. Both of these pests eat the leaves of our vegetables and can be very damaging. The problem is that you do not see them during the day so it may be hard to hand pick them off the plant. Snails and slugs can live in the mulch or dirt during the day so many people never know they have them. There are a couple of ways to rid your garden of these pests. One of my favorites is beer!

            Beer acts like a magnet to snails and slugs. Simply put out a small tin (an empty tuna fish tin works great) near your plants and fill with beer. Over the next several nights as the beer goes stale, snails and slugs will be attracted. Many will crawl into the beer and drown. Do not let the level of beer get to low that the slugs can crawl back out. Just empty out the tin every week and then refill. If your problem is severe then we move to the alternate controls such as M&M’s, Sluggo, or Escar-Go.

            Mesural and Metaldehyde are both baits which have worked well to control snail and slugs. Be sure if you are using these baits to fully read the label and re-apply when necessary to get complete control of the pest. Sluggo and Escar-Go are a few of the newest controls for snails and slugs. These baits are less toxic to animals and can reduce the concern if you have children attending your garden. These products also take a little longer to work but sometimes we have to wait especially when kids or pets are in the area.  To learn more about snails or slugs or their control methods please visit    http://www.weekendgardener.net/how-to/snails-slugs.htm   I think you will be pleased. Hope your time is the garden is a pleasant as mine! Remember, without plants, we wouldn’t be here! Happy Gardening!

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