Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snail Invasion

While our hot dry winds continue to blow almost daily, we had some welcome rain over the weekend. But along with the rain came snails - literally hundreds of them. I refuse to use poisons so the only way to get rid of the little horrors is to collect them by hand. In less than an hour I collected 5 coffee jars full! Now comes the crazy and cruel part - I drown them in boiling salt water and then leave the shells to dry in the sun for a few weeks. When the shells are totally dry I use them to cover the bare soil in my pot plants. Does anyone have a more humane way of controlling these destructive creatures?

Lobostemon fruticosus

This bush is also known as Agtdaegeneesbos (8 Day Healing bush). The early Cape inhabitants believed this plant would cure a multitude of ills within 8 days, hence the name. I have nicknamed it the Cinderella bush. Why? Well I planted this rather boring looking shrub in the new front bed in April. Its grey green leaves covered in soft hairs made it almost unnoticeable amongst the other plants. But in late August it suddenly burst into flower. I couldn't believe it was the same unremarkable plant. It was covered in the most beautiful light pink buds and when open the flowers are pale blue on the margins and pink at the bottom. It just made me think of Cinderella dressed up for the ball. It continued to flower until almost the end of September and then all the flowers faded and disappeared and it returned to it's dull existence. I thought I would have to wait until Spring to see it bloom again, but this little bush had a surprise in store for me - mid November and it is flowering again!
It grows up to 1 metre high and equally wide and is multi-stemmed. It self seeds freely in its natural habitat, but can also be cultivated from cuttings taken in Spring and Autumn. It occurs on the West Coast from Namaqualand to the Peninsula


  1. When I found snail in my garden, I collect them by hand and they go to the chicken.

  2. I feed them to the chickens and stomp on them. I used snail pellets this year. I didn't want to but there were hundreds and hundreds of them because of the wet Spring we have had. An old Australian solution is to put out saucers of beer and they drink themselves to death but I didn't have any beer in the house. Do we have the same snails? Check my blog for posts 'Getting the Pecking Order Straight', and 'An Australian Tradition'. Good luck...nothing worse than having your hard work eaten.

  3. Hi Ellada
    Many years ago we lived on a farm and we had lots of chickens and no snail problem. Unfortunately now my garden is too small to accomodate chickens, especially with my dogs and cat.

  4. Hi Hazel
    I've tried the beer thing, it wasn't very successful, I only caught 1 or 2 snails. Hubby thought it was a waste of good beer! Not sure if we have the same snails, I'll check it out.

  5. Hi; Seeing your blogpost about the snail problem reminded me immediately of a similar post by Hazel, a few weeks ago. I see that you and she have made contact already! [Hello Hazel] :)
    There don't seem to be very many active gardening bloggers in ZA, so I'm very pleased to find your blog.

  6. Hi Mark
    I wonder if our great climate in SA has something to do with the lack of bloggers? We are too busy outside to waste time behind a computer! I see you share some interests with my hubby - he does the veggie patch and the cooking - aren't I a spoilt girl??

  7. There are a handful of SA bloggers on Blotanical. Growing slowly ... We have tabakrolletjie snakes who eat the snails. You just need to leave them a nice layer of mulch to hunt in. http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/tabakrolletjie-snake.html