Snails: Gourmets coming

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A taureicher spring morning lies above the kitchen garden, since yesterday, the first planting work of the season are finally done. But where soft green in rows should present, is - nothing. The topic of snails even arouses gardeners who normally face the caprices of nature. Too big is the damage to the purse, too frustrating the sight when the carefully planted lettuce has disappeared or from the larkspur only sad stalks in the air. Only the traces of mucus and perforated leaves point to the voracious animals, which have long rested again in Erdversteck.

Do you mobilize all friends and acquaintances there? So it seems, because when nudibranches emerge, then mostly in masses and often at night and in the rain. They are inconspicuous journeymen: The Genetzt Ackerschnecke is only 3-5 cm tall, her back is covered with dark spots on pale skin. Slugs are reddish brown, grayish-yellow or black colored and up to 15 cm long. Thomas Schuster, snail expert at the Augsburg office for agriculture, knows: "The smaller field snails are on the move as soon as the soil is frost-free, so depending on the weather from January. Slugs only from April. "At least then you have to intervene.


The biggest damage in gardens causes nudibranchs

The problem has worsened with the Spanish slug, which was introduced from southern Europe at the end of the sixties. Because it secretes a bitter-slime for predators and travels several meters a day, the native species can hardly exist next to her. Thus, the omnivore, which is barely distinguishable from the other slugs for laymen, prevails increasingly. Although it would be nice - not all natural measures help against snails. "Beer traps only make sense if a worm fence also limits the area. On open beds, the screw density can even double, "says Thomas Schuster. The reason: Even animals from adjacent areas, which would otherwise stay there, are attracted. Another problem: beneficials can also drown in the beer-filled containers.


Last salvation: Slug grain is the more efficient the sooner it is applied

Expert Schuster knows from his own experiments that coffee grounds are a barrier. Just like ash, the fragrant good disappears quickly into the ground the next time it rains, giving the gourmets a free rein. Big snails crawl over it or even eat it up. "The Spanish slug can not be stopped by granules, sawdust, aromatic plants or pine needles," says Thomas Schuster. Even moss extracts do not defend them, as studies show. There are nematodes, which are added to the irrigation water and penetrate as deadly parasites in nudibranchs. Unfortunately, the nematodes only act against the seeded field slug, which accounts for a smaller proportion. Also, the wrong dosage repeatedly leads to failures in the fight.

Funkie with slug pellets

Funkia are among the favorite foods of snails. Always observe the packing instructions when spreading slug pellets

Who wants to distribute the grating connoisseurs durable and environmentally friendly, needs gardener patience and a few months serenity, before the whole pays off. Do not rely on nature when the plague is great. Although winter frosts decimate the snails in their underground caves, their eggs survive even the lowest temperatures there as this winter.

The magic word is hacking - all year round: in the autumn after the first frosts and in spring, as soon as the ground thaws, it carries the eggs upwards to dangerously cold air, where birds reach them. In addition, if you regularly crumble the top 20 cm of soil regularly with a hoe or cultivator during the season, you destroy many hiding places because snails can not dig themselves. Promote beneficials and choose plants that tend to avoid snails.


Low beds of fragrant lavender, rosemary or thyme are largely avoided by snails - but only if the plants are placed close to each other

If the first plantlets have already been set, not everything is lost yet. You can lure the animals under rotten boards, clay tiles or large plant leaves that have been laid out overnight near endangered plants. Every morning, the pests are collected. "This is the most effective natural method - but in the case of field augers it is really only feasible before the growing season," confirms Thomas Schuster. As the season progresses, the animals make themselves comfortable in the salad and do not leave it anymore. Slugs, on the other hand, can be collected throughout the year, significantly reducing the population.
Include the compost, in which snails often proliferate.However, as most hobby gardeners do not know which type of snail they are planting, it is extremely important to dispose of the lure traps in good time: in combination with worm fences made of sheet metal, concrete or plastic, it is possible to curb an invasion of the hungry animals with little effort after the frost period, Some models are equipped with electrodes that give the creepers an electric shock when in contact. "But they are prone to failure," says Thomas Schuster, and: "They offer no advantages over a normal snail fence."

Thomas Schuster

Thomas Schuster, Schneckenxperte at the Office of Agriculture in Augsburg

If you want to use slug pellets, then choose the product carefully. The active ingredient Methiocarb (Mesurol / Bayer) is a strong neurotoxin to the animals, the snails die immediately. 14 days waiting period until harvest are mandatory and pets must be kept away from the baits.
Various manufacturers offer products based on metaldehyde (eg Celaflor, Compo, Etisso). The active ingredient attacks the mucus cells of snails, which defend themselves against it with strong mucus production and then enter. Crop can be eaten immediately. Although the preparations contain bitter substances, it can not be ruled out, according to Thomas Schuster, that beneficial insects or pets eat from the grains. Only dogs can harm larger quantities. In the soil, the grains are mined within 30 days.
The active ingredient ferric phosphate (Ferramol / Neudorff) is considered to be particularly environmentally friendly. Snails stop eating, crawl into the ground and die. There is no waiting time until harvest. "Ferramol is the only organic compound approved for long-term use and the only snail preparation that can be used on all types of fruit and vegetables," says Thomas Schuster. This is important because the other two active ingredients are only permitted for the plants described on the respective package. Since the iron compound also occurs in the soil at a lower dose, it does not harm other animals. However, the wallet is strained, because often has to be re-scattered.
Only water in the morning and if possible in such a way that plants only get wet in the root area. Better not to irrigate beds and adjacent lawns: the animals love long-lasting wetlands! Are there already forecasts for 2009? "The spring decides," says Thomas Schuster, "if, as it did six years ago, it becomes unusually hot and dry, the young snails will die or they will develop badly. Then the invasion will stop. "

Video Board: Gourmet Snail Meal in Da Nang.

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