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Re: slugs and snails

  • Subject: [cg] Re: slugs and snails
  • From: steveshome@juno.com
  • Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 09:49:09 -0700

Lisa is right to bring to our attention the toxicity of agricultural chemicals and pointing out that naturally occurring “organic” substances can be toxic. These substances are not used because they are safe to living creatures – quite the contrary. Of course, given the choice between effective alternatives, we should choose the one that is safer.

There are people in the world that garden because their lives depend on it. There are those that garden because their livelihoods depend on it. Gardeners must evaluate risks of crop damage and loss along with other factors in determining production techniques.

In an attempt to increase water retention, improve soil fertility, and control weeds I have utilized wood chip mulches. By doing so, the risk of plant loss from slugs has increased. So far, I have been successful in repelling slugs in my garden.

I no longer use pyrethrum/rotenone for an aphid spray because it was not especially effective. For me, it did not prove to have that “rapid knock down” characteristic. I no longer use it as a slug repellent. Soap is effective and I found far greater success using it for aphids.

My neighbor's livelihood is dependent on 15 acres of strawberries that he must protect from damage and loss. He uses, among other synthetic pesticides, metaldehyde/carbaryl snail baits known to be lethal when ingested by mollusks, wildlife, livestock, pets, and humans. Far more so than I do, my neighbor, and conventional farmers like him, contribute enormously to the American "foodstream." And, everyone lives downstream from someone else. As neighbors, consumers, and gardeners, we must continue the search for safer alternative agricultural methods and welcome dialog with those using conventional agricultural practices.

Lisa is right to point out the dangers of pyrethrum/rotenone and I should have directed your attention to what is likely to be a safer alternative – soap. I just hope that it still proves effective and that others continue to search for alternative slug control.

This year, I have frequently noted 2 pair of Canadian geese in the alfalfa field across the fence. I believe they are part of the family of 14 geese that lived across the river from the garden last year and seem to be quite "tame." If they venture into the strawberries after the snail bait has been applied, they may well be killed. They might eat my slugs but I believe that I must find some way to keep them out of the peas and most everything else. Please be patient with my search for solutions. I'm trying a scarecrow. Any suggestions?

Steve Smoot in Spokane

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