Why does salt water kill plants

Poison, scissors, salt: what helps against snails in the garden

The changeable weather of the past few days brings paradisiacal conditions - for snails. They are currently spreading in the gardens and do not stop at flower pots on the balcony. With what means one can get rid of the voracious pests.

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Snails feel particularly comfortable in moist heat. They eat almost every green they can find. Young vegetables, strawberries and flowers disappear almost overnight. What remains is a silvery, shiny trail of slime, a silent witness of the nocturnal feeding attack.

Collect slugs by hand

The number one culprit is the Spanish slug. It is red-brown in color and has no housing. Your breathing hole is in the front third of your body. This nudibranch is predominantly nocturnal, during the day it hides in damp, dark corners of the garden. It only comes out after the rain and in the evening, often en masse. Then it is important to act quickly.

Manfred Pendl

The appetite of the Spanish slug is feared

“The best way to collect the snails is by hand. This has the great advantage that you selectively collect those snails that cause the greatest damage in the garden, ”says Björn Schoas, biologist at the environmental consultancy in Vienna. Because not all snails are the same.

Beneficial insects devour snail eggs

Apart from the voracious Spanish slug, there are also beneficial insects among the molluscs: for example the tiger snail. This black and gray tabby slug prefers to eat the eggs of the Spanish slug. Roman snails not only attack lettuce, but also these egg clutches.

help.ORF.at/Karin Fischer

The Roman snail is under nature protection

Once you have collected the slugs, the question arises: what to do with them? Throwing it over the fence to the neighbor is useless. A few hours later they are back, attracted by the lush greenery. “It is best to leave them in the forest or on a remote meadow,” says the biologist.

Tips for a quick snail death

There are several methods of getting rid of slugs for good. Scalding with hot water or soaking in a vinegar solution of 60 percent vinegar and 40 percent water kills the animals immediately. "You should make sure that it happens quickly and that you don't use any agonizing methods," says Schoas. Sprinkling with salt is an excruciating method because it slowly drains the animals and is therefore not recommended.

Even the popular beer trap does not cause snails to die quickly. It also attracts beneficial insects. Hard-core people cut the slugs with secateurs. The dead animals are best buried. They do not belong in the compost, because the carcasses attract conspecifics.

help.ORF.at/Karin Fischer

Dead slugs attract other conspecifics

Coffee, garlic, snail fences

Garlic broth:

Boil 90 grams of pressed garlic with one liter of water and let it steep for an hour. Dilute 1: 5 with water. Water the plants with it and repeat after each rain.

In the fight for their beloved greenery, garden owners can make life as difficult as possible for the Spanish slugs. The animals do not like plants that contain strong essential oils. These include many Mediterranean herbs such as sage and rosemary. Nasturtiums and garlic are also avoided. If you pour vegetable broths and manure made from garlic or tomato leaves, you can spoil the snails' appetite for salad and co.

Tomato manure:

Pour water over the leaves (shoots) of tomato plants. Let stand for three weeks, stirring occasionally. Apply to the plants diluted 1: 5 with water.

Another tip would be to water the plants with diluted coffee. It acts as a neurotoxin in snails. The disadvantage: the procedure has to be repeated after every rain. According to the expert, the best protection is a snail fence made of metal or plastic. The fence should be sunk ten centimeters into the ground and at least 30 centimeters high.

Flax and sheep's wool as a barrier

Other barriers are less effective. Eggshells and sawdust are easily overcome by the slugs. Strongly absorbent materials such as flax and sheep's wool around the plants have proven to be the best, says Björn Schoas. But only if it is applied over a large area. Ten centimeters around the plant is not enough. Runner ducks have also proven themselves to keep the nudibranchs in check. The ducks need a watering point in the garden so that they can swallow the sticky snails with their long necks.

Chemical agents are only a stopgap solution for biologists. Björn Schoas is most likely to recommend a preparation with iron III phosphate, known as organic slug pellets. The chemical preparation metaldehyde, which dehydrates the snails, is also allowed in Austria. All other chemical agents are already banned because of their strong environmental effects. One should bear in mind that chemical agents also kill beneficial insects and can be found as residues on vegetables. They are by no means harmless for children and pets.

Tolerate minor damage

Those who do without chemicals in their own garden are unlikely to get rid of the nuisances entirely. Often, however, selective watering of the plants only helps in the morning. If you rake the earth through in late winter, the snail eggs freeze to death.

help.ORF.at/Karin Fischer

Roman snails are not a threat to the garden

"The best thing to do is come to terms with the snails," says the environmental consultant. That means: one promotes the beneficial insects and only collects those snails that cause damage. Small damage to plants should be tolerated instead of removing all snails at once. “A completely snail-free garden is not the goal. If there are no more snails, there won't be much life in the garden, ”says Björn Schoas.

Karin Fischer, help.ORF.at

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