Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

March, 2005
Regional Report

Clever Gardening Technique

Deterring Snails and Slugs
To discourage snails and slugs from eating a prized crop, try surrounding the area with the spiky, round fruit pods of the sweet gum tree. The abrasive surface of the ping-pong-ball-sized pods is uninviting for the slugs to crawl across. The balls continue their usefulness after rain or irrigation, unlike ashes or other fine granular substances that must be reapplied.

Another technique is to fence out the snails and slugs. Unweave the top 1/2 inch of a 3-inch strip of aluminum screening and bend the exposed vertical wires to face outward when it's stapled to a baseboard. Snails and slugs can climb the screening but can't pass over the spikes without sticking themselves or falling off backwards, so they avoid it.

Snails and slugs love citrus trees. If you're not getting any citrus fruit, the snails have beat you to them. To keep them from crawling up the trunks, wrap a length of copper sheeting at least 4 inches wide around the trunk. Make sure you don't leave gaps between the sheeting and the tree through which tiny, young snails can crawl. As the snails slime their way across the copper, an unpleasant electrical charge is created, which they avoid the next time.

If you rely on Snarol-type products in fighting snails and slugs, toss a handful up into citrus trees. Some of the pellets will settle on the foliage, and the remainder will fall onto the soil around the trunk, providing food for the slimy creatures wherever they are. Apply it just as the first spring growth and fruit buds are setting -- the very tender tidbits that snails love.

Shows & Events

Celebrate Trees
Arbor Day is celebrated in California on March 7, in honor of horticulturist Luther Burbank's birthday. (Burbank is famous for his work improving varieties of flowers (like Shasta daisy), fruits (Santa Rosa plum), grains, grasses, vegetables (russet Burbank potato), and trees.) Why not plant a tree to celebrate!

Each day, the average person uses 35 pounds of oxygen -- all of it coming from trees and other plants. They literally filter the air by collecting dust and pollutants in the air before they reach our lungs. They make our life more peaceful by providing sound barriers and reducing outdoor noise.

Trees cool homes in summer; one tree can have the same cooling effect as ten, room-size air conditioners. In the winter, deciduous trees let the sun shine through bare branches to warm our homes. Trees provide wood to burn for heat, lumber to build houses, and paper for books and newspapers. Tree roots lessen water runoff, and branches slow down wind. Commercial fruit and nut trees provide 26 million tons of food each year.

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