Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Snail Battle Escalates

The copper-colored Plant Defender base had me hoping it would repel snails and slugs. Now, I know it's the chemical reaction between snail slime and copper metal that produces a mild shock for the snail, like an electric fence would, but what's up with this painted base because snails don't seem to mind traveling on it?

While I wanted to believe the bases were painted to repel snails, they didn't repel the small snails and slugs that sailed on in to eat my basil. My sweet peppers are being left alone now, but the new basil plants are in need of help. To show the depth of my devotion to basil, I added copper sheeting to the Plant Defender cages. Let's hope this does the trick.

I wonder if you can buy paint with real copper in it? Then I could spray the base of the cages with something that actually repels those slimy gluttons.

News flash! I just re-checked the description of the cages on the PVFS website and it states the cage bases are "copper-plated"!!! This, I assume, means they have been sprayed with a metallic copper paint. Why, then, did snails cross the barrier?

Here's the description-- "Protect plants from browsing birds, snails, slugs, raccoons, deer, and rabbits with this effective barrier. Safe and humane method of protecting young seedlings without resorting to poisons, traps or ineffective repellents. Allows for overhead watering. Cut top off to allow plant to grow taller while maintaining base barrier. Made of molded plastic with copper-plated base."

Apart from the issue with small snails and slugs, these cages have effectively blocked larger snails, cats, dogs, squirrels and birds (the main threats to my veggies and herbs). Additionally, I now have the option to apply Sluggo inside the cages and not worry about my dogs eating it. Since I added copper sheeting around the base, no snails or slugs have reached my basil seedlings.

I'm happy enough with the results that I plan to order more cages and more copper sheeting. The Plant Defender really is a clever invention that's inexpensive, reusable, allows for easy watering, and reduces or eliminates the need for trapping, poisoning and smashing (Ew). Organic gardeners will love this.

There are more helpful hints for controlling snails and slugs in UC IPM Pest Note 7427.


  1. Anonymous6:23 PM

    Fireplace ashes work pretty well, if you put them around thickly enough (and if you have a fireplace to get them from in the first place). Or diatomaceous earth can work, too.

    I use Sluggo, and it keeps the slug populations down.

    Or good ol' beer in a saucer.

  2. Thanks. My ratcha (rat terrier/ chihuahua) dogs eat Sluggo like it's kibble and I'm sure they'd be alcoholics in no time if I start putting out beer. ;-)

    Didn't know about fireplace ashes...

  3. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Not too long ago I saw on a gardening show a copper tape that you can get at the hardware store. They said it works well when you lay a square around a bush to keep the slugs away (they also explained the electric shock thing). I don't know how it turned out for the bush they used it on, though.

  4. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Im trying a circle of rough sandpaper around my tomato seedlings . Anyone else tried this to repel slugs

  5. Anonymous12:15 AM

    You could try snail stoppers, i dont think they work well in gardens but pots are good.