Sunflower Seeds & Snails

Question:

Perhaps it's a silly question but is there any truth that one can add sunflower seed shells or peanut husks to the soil? What do you think?

Answer:

  • There are no silly questions, but some are more unique than others.
  • Sure, why not add sunflower and peanut shells to the soil. We have found a use for eggshells, haven't we?  They are just as good a source of organic matter as the more traditional soil amendments.
  • I'd wash the shells first to minimize or remove any salt residue. This assumes that the peanuts and sunflowers were salted. It's the salt that poses the biggest risk to plants. Placing the shells in a bucket of water and rinsing them a couple of times should do the trick.
  • Also, I'd crush the shells, as the smaller particles will decompose quicker than larger ones. 

Question:

How do I keep snails off of my plants?

Answer:

  • Snails are a permanent part of our landscape. Your chances of eliminating them from any garden is nil. They pose their biggest threat in the spring from the moist conditions and all the new seedlings or transplants being planted.
  • Snails feed at night on herbaceous plants rather than on woody ornamentals. As the sun comes up, snails hide in cool, dark areas. They also hide in the canopy of some ornamentals like citrus, camellias, grass plants, and others. Irrigated ground covers are perfect breeding areas. Each adult snail lays less than a hundred eggs as they have both sex organs.
  • A young snail takes four-month to two years to mature depending on the availability of food and moisture. Because of our climatic conditions, it's sooner rather than later. After the rainy season concludes, an adult snail will retract into their shell when conditions become dry.
    • They close off the opening with a mucus seal that hardens. Snails can remain dormant in this condition for up to four years. Hence, snails are more of a year-round problem where there is a strong marine influence than in the dry inland areas during the summer months. Also irrigating in the evening hours can contribute to there activity. Another limiting condition is a soil surface that is dry.
  •  We control snails with a variety of organic and nonorganic methods. Hand-picking, stale beer, and copper tape are some of the organic controls. Liquid and granular Snail Baits are widely used and with a few exceptions have metaldehyde as the active ingredient. Sluggo by Monterey Lawn and Garden is a nonmetaldehyde based snail bait. It's safe around all two and four-legged animals as well as it's safe to use around edibles. The nursery professional at your favorite garden center is an excellent resource to discuss the snail control strategies for your yard.