The local snails have had a thin time during May's fine weather but now that a few days of light drizzle have come to their aid, they've been out in force. This collection was hiding behind just one slate in the vegetable garden.
Their favourite destination is the sugarsnap pea beds where a good crop has just broken surface. Their attentions would have been devastating had we not....
....resorted to using slug pellets to control them, as few as possible scattered round the outside of the beds.
We don't like using poisons in any part of the garden, though admit to the occasional and sparing use of Roundup. Mostly, we pull weeds out by hand, and have tried in the past to deal with snails by surrounding vulnerable crops with lengths of copper wire, which is supposed to deter them by giving them a mild electric shock, and by using beer traps. Snails like beer, drink it and, in a state of inebriation, fall into their drink and drown - but the traps dilute quickly in our climate.
Our biggest ally is the song thrush population, which seems to manage to find snails wherever they hide through the day. A frequent, and very welcome sound in the garden is the tap-tap-tap of snails being smashed open on a convenient rock.
But we worry that the snails the thrushes find most easily are those which have ingested the pellets, and fear that the thrushes - and particularly their young - may suffer as a result. The instructions on the pellet container warns that the pellets should not be ingested by humans and pets but makes no mention of wildlife.