Few things are more exasperating, and deflating, then to lovingly toil at cultivating your
favorite vegetables or flowers in your backyard garden, only to then have your harvest ravaged by legions of uninvited slimy vermin with voracious appetites who are seemingly always on the prowl for a delectable meal at your expense. Ahhhhh, but fear not my fellow gardeners… this is your guide on how to rid yourself of those slow-moving garden terrorists once and for all; your road map for how to kill snails and slugs!
Diatomaceous Earth – a natural, totally non-toxic substance that bugs loathe!
Many gardeners are rightly very conscious of not introducing caustic pesticides into their gardens as this is often the very reason people across the globe eschew vegetables and produce at the grocery store and grow organically themselves. So, grabbing some aerosol can filled with chemicals and poisons of some kind is simply a non-starter, and we strongly urge you to avoid doing this. Instead, Mother Nature has provided gardeners a sure-fire way to kill snails and slugs (as well as a host of other bugs with exoskeletons) with practically zero negatives.
It’s called Diatomaceous Earth (or DE for short), and you may have heard of it before if you own a pool as it is commonly used as a filter media additive. For everyone else, it is the natural, non-toxic substance that we unknowingly consume every day when we eat things like grains (DE is widely used to keep bugs from consuming harvested crops before they make it to market). It is completely harmless to mammals even when ingested.
How DE kills snails and slugs
First, let’s establish what DE is. It’s a substance made up of the fossilized remains of plankton, and contains almost pure silica with a few trace minerals tossed in for good measure. Under a microscope DE looks a lot like shards of glass and thus it’s naturally rough, sharp microscopic edges puncture the body of snails and slugs when they traverse a surface that has been dusted with it, and it causes rapid dehydration to take place and ultimately death. Mission accomplished.
Use Food Grade DE only!
As mentioned earlier there are two very common uses for DE…an additive for pool filtration systems, and a wonder substance for killing many kinds of bugs. Not surprisingly then, there are two different grades of DE depending on the application you intend to use it for. For gardening purposes, use ONLY “food grade” DE purchased from a garden supply center, or the like, to kill snails and slugs with joyful haste. The variety meant for pools has unwanted additives that makes it unfit to use around vegetables.
How to apply
DE must remain dry to be effective. So, even a morning dew can render it useless. This means that spreading DE around your garden is easier and more effective if done inside a greenhouse, for instance, where your moisture is much better controlled. If any of your DE gets moist/wet, simply reapply.
Lightly dust your plants, leafs, and soils with DE when snails and slugs are present. Sprinkle a protective circle around the base of plants to act as a fortress from those marauding gastropods! Also, you can spread some DE on surfaces where they commonly travel or places where they may try entering your greenhouse as a kind of preemptive strike. When you do, your snail and slugs problems are going to quickly become a thing of the past.
Though this blog is meant to impart a game plan for wiping out snail and slug infestations in your beloved garden or backyard greenhouse, remember that DE is very effective on ALL pests with exoskeletons (ants, roaches, etc.) that may be causing you consternation as well.