Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Scientist encourages gardeners to make friends with snails

Gardeners are faced with a wide range of difficulties to overcome throughout the year – not least of which is the prevailing problem of pests.

While it has to be acknowledged that gardens are inevitably going to become hotspots for all kinds of wildlife, some can become the bane of a green-fingered enthusiast’s life as they wreak havoc and destruction across the plants they have worked so hard to grow.

When it comes to plant damage, there is no doubt that slugs and snails are likely to be the first perpetrators that come to mind, as they are notorious for eating away at greens and leaving nothing but their signature trail in their wake.

However, before taking action to prevent this from happening, it could be worth sparing some thought for the creatures – if the words of one expert are anything to go by.

Award-winning scientist Ruth Brooks has urged gardeners to “make friends” with snails. Speaking at the Daily Telegraph Hay Festival on the other side of the Atlantic in the UK, the author of Slow Passion: Snails, My Garden and Me, claimed that not all of these gastropods are as destructive as their reputation would appear to indicate.

“I used to view snails indiscriminately as pests waging war on me,” she conceded, before going on to state: “Most snails are inhabiting hedgerows and wild areas peacefully.”

She cited the example of the garlic glass-snail, which does not feed on vegetables, but rather fungi, worms, insects and grubs – creatures that could have a more damaging impact on a garden or greenhouse environment.

“There must be a better solution to the Great Snail Problem and I felt the need to find it,” Ms Brooks continued, adding: “More than anything else, I wanted to feel at ease with myself.”

The expert went on to claim that in her observation of snails, she learned to slow down, take her time with activities and see the world in a different light. “My snails taught me how to be still and once again catch my breath in wonder,” she commented.

For those who still wish to tackle the presence of snails, they do not need to turn to pesticides or other chemical solutions.

Kate Gould, professional garden designer and a regular exhibitor at the UK’s Chelsea Flower Show, underlined the importance of tackling the problem organically – adding that simply picking the incriminating creatures off plants can be sufficient action.