Wednesday, April 7, 2010

chapter 9: snail trails and easter egg hunts

chapter 9: snail trails and easter egg hunts

On Easter Sunday the Twyford Family descended in near full force upon us and despite a glass being broken over Aunty Bug's potato bake and another glass tray exploding as it came out of the oven...all went well. In the morning Uncle Steve and Noah carefully planted chocolate eggs over the entire yard in preparation for the Easter egg hunt for the 10 neices and nephews. Noah had strategically hidden a significant amount of the eggs in 'tricky' hidey holes, many of which were not discovered until the days following Sunday by none other then himself. The Easter Bunny himself would have been impressed because as Noah explained to us on Easter morning at 4:22 am (thanks day light saving) "the Easter Bunny made a fair bit of noise last night when he came and I even heard him doing a wee in our shower, that's strange isn't it?". Some things will forever remain a mystery. Despite Noah's acute hearing it is less plausible that a giant bunny went and weed in our shower and more likely that Uncle Steve who had stayed that night was helping himself to a long drink of water...surely?

Snail Repellent Experiment
One thing that won't remain a mystery however is how to deter the ever common garden snail and other pests from your patch. Joe has been busy conducting a highly technical experiment, and if he had one of those white lab suits he probably would have worn it.

We have heard many tales of ways to deter pests in the garden without using poisons or pesticides. The key theories we wanted to put to the test were whether or not garlic and chilli juice sprayed onto veges deter snails and secondly whether or not sprinkling crushed egg shells around the base of vegetables also repels snails. (To make garlic and chilli spray simply dice up 5 cloves of garlic and 5 chillis. Add to boiling hot water and allow to sit overnight. Strain into a spray bottle and apply to all of your leafy vegetables).

These are our OFFICIAL findings.

Our Aim: How to best deter snails using organic substances.

Our Method: Contain a number of very hungry a container. Add three juicy green bean leaves. One sprayed with garlic and chilli juice (right). One surrounded by crushed egg shells (middle). And one left alone - the control leaf (left).

Our Results: Within a few minutes of the snails being added to the 'test site' (a big plastic container) they near devoured our control leaf. By the afternoon all seemed promising as neither of the other two leaves had been touched. Night descended and we all went to bed confident that the other two methods had successfully detered the snails. However, come morning time ,Joe was shocked and appauled to find that the two biggest snails had broken through his supposed impenetrable egg shell perimeter and eaten the entire leaf! Worse still leaf three, saturated in the chilli and garlic spray, had also been partially eaten (approximately 27% of the total leaf mass index was missing). However, his potent mix proved too powerful for them to finish off those final mouthfuls.

within the first hour, the control leaf was the first to go. by morning nothing was left of the control leaf or the leaf surrounded by egg shell thanks to the two fasto's sitting in the middle. The garlic & Chilli sprayed leaf was partly eaten. We suspect an ethnic snail of mediteranian or mexican background.

We will give you a moment to lift your jaws off the ground before we make our final conclusion.

Our Conclusion: Neither the egg shells nor the chilli and garlic spray will completely prevent snails from eating your garden but they do provide some level of inital resistance with the chilli and garlic spray appearing the most repellant.

We're going on a Snail HuntA more effective method that we use is 'snail hunts'. This is a great one for the whole family to take part in. You will need one flashlight, one jar with lid, one drizzly/rainy evening and x amount of excited children (and dads). Snails come out in their hundreds in these conditions and are easy to spot, pick them up and pop them in the jar. From here you can either keep them as pets (not recommended), drown them (more of an option), or befriend an old Italian/French/Maltese man who will more than happily take them off your hands to whip up a quick escargot delight (highly recommended)!

Brave Sir Knight Noah and Princess Georgiaveve prepare for yet another treacherous snail hunt! Such Bravery!

We have also been trialling beer traps so far with no success over the last 24 hours and Joe is beginning to regret his waste of a good home-brewed beer.

AphidsSome other simple techniques that do work in protecting your garden include using soapy water spray to kill aphids. It is also great to get rid of powdery mildew on pumpkins, zucchini and squash plants. Just use some hand soap in a spray bottle diluted with water.

Birds & Possums
In the grand scheme of things snails and aphids are of little concern here at our place. It is the plethora of birds and possum folk that think we have grown the veggie garden just for them that are our key concern. The best solution we have found to prevent birds and possums is to cover our veggie beds with bird netting (we bought ours from Bunnings). This system worked a treat on our raised veggie gardens, but prooved less successful on our fruit trees and vines. Next year we are going to trial using stockings to cover our grapes to protect them from the birds, we used bird netting this year but the crafty little buggers easily hopped underneath it and ate 80% of our lovely grapes.

because of the combination of excessive chocolate consumption by our children , and their stubborn refusal to accept that daylight saving has now ended, Jo and I are both too dazed and confused to continue blogging tonight. later this week we will deliver on our promised recipe (an Italian style courgette stuffed (for want of a better term) with secret stuffings - i am not allowed to say any more at this stage) and also chat about the wonderful world of companion planting.

Ok. we are back.

Companion Planting:

As the name suggests, the concept behind companion planting is grouping certain varieties of plants next to one another because they are beneficial to the growth, or pest resistence of both plants. Companion planting has been used for many years and is a far better alternative to pesticides and unnatural fertilizers. Below are some companion planting partnerships that you can try in your own vegetable garden.
1. Cucumbers grow well with beans

2. Asparagus repels nematodes (tiny-worms), and is a good companion for tomatoes and parsley.

3. Celery repels white butterfly, and are good companions for cabbage & cauliflower.

4. Chrysanthemums inhibit root-knot nematodes, and are a good companion for strawberries.

5. Borage is also a good companion for strawberries.

6. Silver beat is also an excellent companion for strawberries.

7. Foxgloves stimulate growth in other plants in general, and should be planted as a boarder plant (around vege garden).

8. Yarrow (planted sparsely) improves pest resistance in general.

9. Marjoram improves the yields of most vegetables.

10. French Marigolds are a good companion for all root vegetables as they inhibit pests and diseases. They are also a good companion for tomatoes as they repel white fly, which attacks tomatoes.

11. Parsley is beneficial to tomatoes and roses.

12. Garlic improves the growth of roses, but is bad for peas and beans. It is also a good remedy for blight diseases on tomatoes and potatoes. Simply crush cloves and sit in boiling water. Use as a spray.

13. Gladioli is BAD as it restricts the growth of vegetables and should be kept well away from your vege garden.

14. Dandelions are also bad for the growth of vege gardens, but grown on their own, they are good for cleansing the gallbladder, and are high in vitamins A & C.

15. Nasturtiums improve the growth of potatoes and radishes. they aslo add a lovely splach of colour!

16. Chervil is also a good companion for Radish.

17. Chives repel many insects and pests and inhibits diseases in your vege garden. They are particularly good companions for carrots and apple trees. For best results, pick the leaves and flowers regularly.

18. Dill improves the quality of cabbages.

19. Fennel is bad for the growth of beans. Keep them separate.

20. Hyssop improves the growth of grape vine yields. Garlic may also be good in preventing some diseases in grape vines, as roses and vines often suffer from similar diseases.

21. Summer Savoy is a good boarder for onions and beans.

22. beans grow well near carrots, potatoes, cabbage, celery, cucumber, and cauliflower.

23. beans do not grow well near garlic, shallots, onions or beetroot.

24. cabbage improves when grown near potatoes. Sage is also a good companion for cabbage.

25. Carrots are good companions for onions/ peas/ lettuce/sage.

26. Cucumbers are good companions for peas/potatoes/beans/cabbage/chives.

27. Leeks are good companions for celery.

28. Lettuces are good companions for radish/carrots.

29. Peas or pumpkins are good companions for corn.
30. Peas and onions do not grow well together.

31. Potatoes and tomatoes/pumpkins/sunflowers do not grow well together.

32. Potatoes are good companions for cabbage/corn/peas/beans.

ok people. we are done for tonight. Joanna's top secret stuffed zucchinni (or courgette for the more culinarily sophisitacted) will be cooking tommorrow. On a side note, we watched Costa's garden odyssey tonight in the hairy hope of some gardening gems, but we were sadly dissappointed. It is only the second time we have watched the hairy man. has he been better in the past or are you in aggreance that Costa can do better?


  1. Hey team, well you've answered something I've been meaning to ask you. My tiny wee garden has been veritably munched by firstly white moth things, now tiny black bugs.. Was on the brink of abandoning effort, but now i'll be trying some soapy water, let ya know how we get on! Always love your updates, surely theres a need for such witty wisdoms to be published, thou i prob wouldn't buy it as i can read it here for free, ha! Love the pix of yer wee garden warriors! And yes, you've confirmed my suspicions, gladioli are BAD.. love to ya all, Manu xxxxx

  2. Though this blog is a bit old now, hopefully my comment is still interesting for you!

    I just tried the beer thing a couple of days ago to deter snails and slugs. I don't know about snails but I did have at least 6 dead slugs, drowned in some Tooheys Old that I left in 2 small containers near my rhubarb and artichoke. I have put another dose out... hopefully it works again!