Sunday, October 17, 2010


We each see life through different lens.

Anne says ‘it’s war out there’. She’s speaking of the garden. Last week she planted out some petunia seedlings in a pot, interspersed with white alyssum. The following day I pointed out that snails had had a field day on the petunias and suggested she put out some snail bait. She did so. Next morning when she pulled back the curtains there were sluggish, dying snails galore in or around the pot. Even I was surprised by how many. Winter hibernation over they were on the prowl for tasty titbits.

It’s part of the process. It is in the nature of snails to eat certain plants and ignore others. It’s in the nature of a gardener to either not plant those that will be eaten or engage in combat with the enemy. Anne bewails the fact that the gardener must be constantly vigilant. It was an aspect I revelled in. Because I have done it for most of our time together she’s a late comer to the trade as my health has declined. It takes time to adjust. She’s made leaps and bounds. She’s now hopefully nursing the frail petunias. And turning into a snail-disliker.

In my gardening prime I used to set out beer traps in the garden, especially near lettuces, to snare the molluscs. At least they died happy I consoled myself. I prefer not to use bait but in this instance it was either petunias or snails. Sometimes other animals, dogs or more rarely cats will eat the bait and a sad sight is to see thrushes consuming snails killed by bait. I also always liked hedgehogs around the garden- they eat snails.

Last summer Helen my school-girl gardener uncovered a nest of snails. What do I do with them she asked? Crush them, I replied. She shuddered. She couldn’t. So I sent her away and tottering over to the pile brought my foot down on the heap. Satisfaction! For me! I could tell Helen did not approve.

In years ago school biology l learnt that snails are hemaphrodite – that is each snail has both male and female reproductive organs. But despite this interesting fact I must say of all creation they are to me one of the least appealing 'critters'.

I have never looked on snails as a source of food. I did try them once in France. I love garlic so I ate them enjoying the strong garlic flavour of the sauce they were cooked in. But as a taste sensation, forget it. Unlike frog’s legs, Yum! Apparently, the ancient Romans relished them as a delicacy. I also understand that their flavour depends upon what they have been eating. That makes sense. Well, to each his own.

1 comment:

  1. I am a fully paid-up member of the anti-snail society. I can't find anything at all to like about them - like you, on the two occasions I've tried eating them it's been the garlic butter which I've enjoyed, not the small hard bits of rubbery flesh.
    We had noticed some telltale holes in the newly planted lettuces, so last night I sprinkled bait. My husband tells me that he stopped counting at 150 this morning as he placed the dead ones into a bucket.

    Nasty, slimy things!