52°F
weather icon Clear

Snails, slugs attracted to moisture, food in garden

Q: I have a vegetable garden that has been overrun with snails. They are various sizes. I have tried Cory’s Snail Repellent, beer traps using Budweiser beer and salt. I filled in holes in my block wall with dirt where they were hiding. These efforts seem to work, but I still have them. Is there anything I should try to get rid of snails?

A: Snails and slugs love where it’s wet. They also love food. Food and moisture make a perfect breeding area. The snails are probably all the same kind but different stages of maturity and probably laying eggs in your garden.

Abandon the vegetable garden for one growing season, pull everything out of it and let it go fallow, or dry, for one growing season. I’m not sure that allowing the garden to dry out for a long period of time all by itself is enough to kill all the eggs. Solarize the soil this summer or next summer with clear plastic to get the soil temperature over 160 degrees to kill the eggs.

Grow your vegetables in containers while the vegetable bed is fallow and start with all new and clean material in the containers. Rest the bottoms of the containers on a thick layer of coarse rock or place them in a pan of water so it acts like a moat. You can buy copper slug tape for the sides of the containers from garden supply companies to keep snails from climbing them.

As far as baiting, some gardeners use stale beer and others use fresh beer. It’s the yeasty smell that attracts them and the depth of the beer that kills them. The stronger the smell, the better. Baits work best if they are spaced 3 to 4 feet apart throughout the garden.

Other attractants include dog or cat food, sugar and yeast, and Sluggo. Sluggo also kills them because of the iron phosphide, which doesn’t hurt pets.

Layers of wet newspaper or cardboard also can work as a trap. Snails and slugs migrate under these wet surfaces during the day, where they can be collected and disposed of at dusk. Other wet materials work as well, such as large rocks or bricks, if they are easy to pick up and clean.

Q: I’m having trouble growing vegetables in raised beds. Something is eating the leaves and fruit. It must be at night because I don’t see anything during the day.

A: It would be helpful to determine what’s causing the damage. It’s easier to protect vegetables correctly if what’s causing the damage is known. Damage occurs from rats, rabbits, ground squirrels, birds, insects, snails and slugs.

The type of damage and evidence left behind should be a good clue. Larger varmints such as rats and rabbits leave damage and fecal deposits that are characteristic. Bird damage, in most cases, is very characteristic. Snails and slugs leave a slime trail that make them a dead giveaway.

Try growing vegetables in nursery containers for a change. They can be moved to different locations, elevated and spaced different distances apart for different vegetables. If the soil becomes contaminated or infested, dump it, clean and sanitize the containers and refill them with new soil.

Use at least a 5-gallon plastic nursery container because volumes of soil smaller than this are hard to keep wet during the summer. Painting them white is not necessary but does reduce the temperature of the soil and potential heat damage.

The soil used in containers affects its weight and how often you must water. Some lightweight soil mixes might need watering twice a day, morning and afternoon, during the summer.

The best exposure for summer vegetables is eastern provided they get six to eight hours of sunlight and have protection from the wind. Straw bales or constructed windbreaks help improve vegetable quality in this regard. During the winter, move the containers to a southern exposure where it’s warmer.

Fill containers so the soil is 1 inch below the top lip of the container. That should provide enough head space that hand watering with a hose will force water out the bottom of the container. You want about 20 percent of the applied water to flush salts from the soil.

Once you determine the varmints causing the damage, then decide how to protect your vegetables from more damage. That might include caging, bird netting, baits and traps and possibly some carefully selected and placed varmint poisons.

Q: I have had a problem with my two 20-year-old Wheeler’s Dwarf bushes since last November. This past year the leaves and stems appear burnt and chalky white. I’ve increased the water on the timer and watered by hand with no difference. I’m using an 18-18-18 fertilizer with no improvement. I have rock cover around it, but it’s been there for 20 years. Leaves on the underside of the bushes also look healthy.

A: One of the causes of the historical Dust Bowl years and criticisms of traditional agriculture is soil depletion. Wheeler’s Dwarf is a mock orange considered to be a nondesert shrub taken from Japan and Korea. As plants become less healthy from soil depletion, they are more susceptible to environmental stresses like heat, cold and nutrition. I think your plants’ luck is starting to run out.

This shrub was never intended for desert landscapes. When it was planted, the soil was probably amended with organics quite nicely. With the soil covered in rock, the organics in the soil disappeared, soil nutrients started to run out, and the plant became more susceptible to environmental stresses like heat. My guess is the problem parts of that plant are facing west and south where sunlight and heat are more intense. Eventually, it will get worse.

It might be too little too late, but I would pull the rock away from these plants, auger holes in the soil 18 inches deep and put compost in these holes. Put a layer of compost on the soil surface surrounding them and replace the rock. Cleanup the shrub with some pruning, and you should see dark green new growth next spring in these locations.

This might need to be done every three to four years. Make sure the shrubs are getting water applied to the soil evenly underneath their canopies. Add more drip emitters if you need to make it happen.

Q: When is the best time to prune Mexican redbird and lantana?

A: Light pruning — an occasional snip here and there with hand pruners — can be done anytime. I wouldn’t shear them unless it’s done very early in the season and you want their canopies to become dense.

But major pruning, such as removing entire stems or cutting the plant close to the ground, should be done during winter months. Both plants are grown in the tropics so lantana tops die back after a light freeze, but the plant will grow back, and red bird of paradise looks bad after a heavy freeze.

Because lantana is a sprawling plant, prune it 2 inches above the soil, anytime you want, during the winter months. If the plant is brown during the winter and you’re sick of its looks, prune it. Just do it before spring growth. In the spring, fertilize and water it.

Pruning the red bird of paradise, aka Mexican redbird, has more options. There is a yellow version of this plant called the desert bird of paradise that is slightly more cold tolerant. If it’s getting too big, oddly shaped or damaged, prune it 6 to 8 inches from the ground during the winter like lantana, and it will grow back with a different shape. If you want to make it smaller, remove three or four of its tallest or longest shoots entirely to a crotch during the winter months.

If the plant is growing with an open canopy, increase its density or how full it appears, by pruning its longest shoots with heading cuts, which are done somewhere along the length of a solitary branch. Three new shoots will appear 4 to 6 inches below this cut in the spring. They will grow in three different directions seeking light. Make cuts where you want next year’s new growth to begin.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert and professor emeritus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to Extremehort@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Jeopardy! James competes with G2E attendees
Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer, appears at the G2E IGT booth to help celebrate launch of Jeopardy! slot machines and compete against attendees in mock games of Jeopardy!
Security guard killed in Las Vegas shooting honored
ERICK SILVA WAS KILLED PROTECTING OTHER DURING THE MASS SHOOTING AT THE ROUTE 91 FESTIVAL. HE IS BEING REMEMBERED TODAY AND A PLAGUE WAS PRESENTED IN HIS HONOR AT THE EAST COMMUNITY CENTER
Lucky's unexpected surprise
The Ball family, who already deals with challenges most families don’t, got an unexpected surprise from a security systems worker, who brought more than just peace of mind, he brought love to one lucky little boy.
Gilcrease pumpkin patch is open - VIDEO
Gilcrease Orchard's pumpkin patch is now open for the season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas firefighters battle a fire in a commercial area - VIDEO
Clark County and Las Vegas firefighters battle a fire in a commercial area at 824 E. Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse of RiSE Las Vegas festival - VIDEO
This is a time-lapse video during the sixth annual RiSE Las Vegas festival at the Jean dry lake bed on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lanterns released into Nevada desert as part of RiSE Festival - VIDEO
Thousands of spectators released giant lanterns into the sky at a dry lake bed near Jean, Nev., Sunday night as part of the RiSE festival. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Halloween Parade at Downtown Summerlin - VIDEO
Halloween festivities are in full swing at Downtown Summerlin with the first week of the month-long parade. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Funeral procession for Robbie James Pettingill - VIDEO
A motorcade of Henderson fire and police personnel escort the body of firefighter Robbie James Pettingill past Fire Station 82 and Fire Station 97, where he was last assigned, to Central Christian Church on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Failure not an option for Mayor Carolyn Goodman facing breast cancer - VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her oncologist talk about Goodman's second bout with breast cancer. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hacienda bridge closures for events at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
The bridge at Hacienda Avenue over Interstate 15 will be closed during major events at Allegiant Stadium. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Backyard Adventures at the Springs Preserve - VIDEO
"Backyard Adventures" is the latest temporary exhibit at the Springs Preserve. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of teens who were killed in California crash visited the crash site - VIDEO
Parents of Las Vegas teens who were killed in a fiery crash last year in Huntington Beach, Calif., visited the crash site on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutefsya
Bani Duarte convicted in California crash that killed 3 Las Vegas teens - VIDEO
Bani Duarte, the drunken driver who caused a fiery crash in Huntington Beach, California, last year that killed three Las Vegas teens, was convicted of second-degree murder on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wrap-up of Oct. 1 observances - VIDEO
A wrap-up of memorials and observances on the second anniversary of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, Oct. 1, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Victims of Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas remembered - VIDEO
Remembrance video honors the 58 people who were killed at the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Clark County)
UNLV music program rings bell 58 times to remember victims of Oct. 1 shooting - Video
UNLV music students will ring a set of chimes 58 times in honor of the victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Memorial bench unveiled at North Las Vegas park to honor Route 91 victims and survivors - VIDEO
The family of Route 91 victim Neysa Tonks worked with the city of North Las Vegas to erect a memorial bench overlooking a pond at Craig Ranch Regional Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Joe Robbins Speak at Oct. 1 Remembrance Ceremony - Video
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Joe Robbins speak to the crowd at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater to remember the victims of the 1 Oct. shooting that occurred in 2017 at the Route 91 festival. (Michael Quine and Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 6 of Bani Duarte trial in California
Police say Bani Duarte, 29, was drunk when she drove into a car carrying four Las Vegas teens, killing three, in Huntington Beach, California on March 29, 2018. She is being tried on murder charges in Santa Ana. (Renee Summeropur/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Troy and Shannon Zeeman talk about life after Oct 1 shooting - VIDEO
Troy and Shannon Zeeman of Garden Grove, California, discuss life after Oct 1 shooting in Las Vegas. The couple started Security Consultant Zeeman, dedicated to active shooter preparedness training. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Reflecting on Oct. 1: How Metro officers saved a life
Oct. 1 was the second day on the job for Officer Brandon Engstrom who saved a critically injured woman amid the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Healing Garden remains a gathering place
It's been two years since the mass shooting of Oct. 1, and the Healing Garden has grown and evolved. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash - VIDEO
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash at the intersection of West Sahara Avenue and Steve Rigazio Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Reflecting on Oct. 1: How one officer saved a life
Oct. 1 was the second day on the job for Officer Brandon Engstrom who saved a critically injured woman amid the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
76 animals confiscated from North Las Vegas home - VIDEO
Service dogs, birds, a pig and other animals were confiscated from the North Las Vegas home of an animal activist and former actress. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother, child and 41 dogs rescued after North Las Vegas house fire - VIDEO
North Las Vegas PIO Patrick Walker talks about a house fire in North Las Vegas where a mother, her child and 41 dogs were rescued on Sept. 24, 2019. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miracle Flights greets patient ambassador Michael Perrino in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Miracle Flights team welcomes 16-year-old Michael Perrino and his family to Las Vegas for their annual Swings for Wings fundraiser at TopGolf. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Storm Area 51 Day 3 Update 1
Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko is canceled after a lackluster Day 1, according to event executive producer Keith Wright. Alienstock in Rachel will go on for its third day. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
Cat survives 15-mile commute in car bumper
A Las Vegas Review-Journal employee was surprised to learn she had a passenger during her 15.5-mile commute to the office on a September Sunday. (Tony Morales & James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shortages of OB-GYN doctors in the Las Vegas Valley - Video
Dr. Michael Gardner discusses the shortages of OB-GYN doctors that will happen and what steps are being taken to entice them to come or stay in the Las Vegas area.
Southern Nevada is in a West Nile virus hot zone - VIDEO
Southern Nevada, along with Central Arizona and Southern California, make up a “hot zone” that is reporting the highest number of mosquito-borne West Nile virus cases in the country. The Southern Nevada Health District recently reported 28 cases of West Nile virus in Clark County. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul Browning Released from Ely State Prison - VIDEO
Paul Browning greets his mother, Betty Browning, after being released from Ely State Prison. Browning served 33 years on Nevada’s death row. (Rachel Crosby/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother upset over her child's cornea donation being sent overseas - Video
Lindsey LiCari, the mother of Ayden and founder of Ayden's Army of Angels, is upset that her child's corneas were sent overseas and was told that she would be able to see her son's eyes again. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aviators splash pad lets fans stay cool
Las Vegas Ballpark’s splash pad area is the perfect place to keep cool while enjoying the game. (Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Select desert plants for privacy hedge

My Saturday, four-week class, “Fix Your Landscape” will start Oct. 26 in North Las Vegas. This weekly landscaping class will show you design tricks that save water and electricity, plant selections that work, planting methods that are successful and how to fix problems, and irrigation installation and how to water.

Skeletonizer damages leaves of yellow bells

Skeletonizer insect damage is common to Tecoma in warmer parts of the Southwest. It’s feeding damage by the young — or larvae — of a moth given the common name Tecoma leaf tier skeletonizer.

Over-pruning tomato plants could lead to sunburn

You can harvest fruit from tomato plants when it’s hot, but they won’t set fruit again from new growth until the temperature drops back into the mid-90s. Either pull the tomato plants when they’re done producing and plant new ones from seed or prune the old ones back and let them flower and fruit again when it’s cooler.

Late afternoon direct sun can be damaging to roses

Somewhat tender plants like roses and crape myrtle can handle the intense desert heat and sunlight if they are growing in soil amended with organics and the soil is covered with mulch that rots or decomposes. Roses and crape myrtle will struggle after a few years when planted in soils covered by rock

Wet, humid spring weather caused influx of aphids

The high population of aphids this year was caused by our wet and humid spring weather. The fastest way to get rid of them is to drench the soil beneath the tree with a systemic insecticide diluted in a bucket of water.

Grasshoppers can be destructive to yards

Grasshoppers start cute and small with small appetites and jump from plant to plant. But as they grow bigger, their increased appetites cause more and more damage to landscapes.

Good tomato crop probably a result of cool spring weather

Tomatoes stop setting fruit when air temperatures stay consistently above 95 degrees. The tomatoes that set earlier continue to grow and mature when it stays hot. If the air temperature drops below 95 for a couple of days, new flowers will again set fruit.