Friday, February 6, 2009

Slugs and Snails, Snakes and Toads, Get Ready

There are more daylight hours now and the garden catalogs keep showing up in the mailbox with more frequency. Spring is really coming, about 42 days away from today.
Time is getting short to get together a garden plan, always a good idea. A vegetable garden will more important this year for many, because of the sinking economy, rising food prices and tainted and unhealthy food found in the supermarkets.
There are a lot of basic decisions that need to be made; what varities to plant, where to plant them in the garden, maybe decisions about new additions and compost.
It is also a good time to prepare a battle plan for the slug and snail pests which can create a lot of havoc and make veggies look like swiss cheese. There are a lot of control methods, without using dangerous pesticides. Beer traps, natural sprays, egg shells and coffee grounds, salt water sprays all work pretty well. But short of a scorched earth policy, slugs and snails are more likely to be kept under control.
But there are a few natural ways – make the garden a habitat for snakes and toads, both really like to eat slugs and snails.
Around northwestern Pennsylvania, your most likely to attract the well known, common garter snake. Snakes like rock piles and one in the vegetable garden can be transformed into an attractive rock garden designed for other beneficial insects, like bees, butterflies and other pollinators, as well as, being a home for the garden garter snake.
A toad house is another option. It can be as inexpensive as a decorated, overturned clay flower pot. Just be sure to have a sunken pie plate or something similar filled with water for the toad, they drink through their skin.
A few easy steps and the proper habitat can prevent vegetables and flowers from looking like swiss cheese.
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