Growing weed is fairly easy, as we’ve explained in a previous blogpost. In spring and summer, growing cannabis plants outdoors is pretty straightforward, too. Still, cannabis gardening is not always fun and games. Slimy predators like snails and slugs pose a serious threat to growing seedlings and blooming cannabis plants, so knowing how to protect that crop is critical. Luckily, there’s a couple of ways to get rid of these slimeballs, responsibly.
Stopping The Slimeballs In Their Tracks
It is every grower’s biggest nightmare… Imagine a grower ordering some top-notch seeds from the Amsterdam Genetics stock. After germination, the seedlings have been carefully nurtured as they grew in the garden. Watering and treating them with great affection, the seeds developed into healthy young plants, and all seemed fine…
Until one morning, our grower saunters into the garden, whistling, until he notices the leaves of his dear cannabis plants hanging limply down the stems. Upon closer inspection, he discovers the plants have been brutally victimized overnight, ravaged by some of the slimiest trespassers known to horticulture: slugs. Slugs and snails may be slow and kind of, well, silly, but make no mistake: they a cannabis predators that chew right through leaves and stems without a second thought. For cannabis growers, snail and slug attacks are serious calamities that can end a seedling’s life and send their harvest dreams crashing down just like that. So what can you do to prevent a weed massacre in your garden? Let’s explore the options together.
Your first reaction might be all-out warfare against all things slimy. Running to the store and buying bags full of poison is in fact the instinctive response of most gardeners. Luckily, though,y there are more humane and eco-friendly ways to keep these dreaded predators at bay. There’s enough toxins in nature as it is, and perhaps more importantly, many snail poisons or snail baits contain metaldehyde. This chemical can be dangerous for pets, children, and basically most other animal life in the garden. Let’s not go there.
Below, you’ll find the best tricks to deter these slimy interlopers without resorting to chemical warfare. But first, let’s get to know some basics of slug and snail biology and behavior, in the spirit of Sun Tzu’s Art of War: Know Your Enemy…
Protecting Cannabis From Slugs And Snails: Know Your Enemy
Basic garden biology draws a broad distinction between two types of slimeballs: slugs and snails. Both species fall under the mollusc phylum, home to squids, octopuses and a huge range of aquatic snail species among others. Both slugs and snails have a fearsome reputation for chewing through just about every plant there is. What they really love, however, are young seedlings, which definitely includes freshly germinated cannabis plants in the garden.
Snails and slugs are pretty similar in morphology and behaviour; the main difference being that snails have exterior shells for protection. Whereas slugs usually have no mobile homes on their backs. Instead, they sometimes have softer interior shell-like structures used to store calcium. Slugs can squeeze through tiny holes and cracks. Making them virtually unstoppable intruders; provided by great protection from predators and sunlight dehydration.
Snails and slugs have a single ‘foot’, consisting of bands of muscle tissue that move in sequence to propel the beasts forward. They are quite fascinating creatures, having been around for well over 500 million years (!) and occurring all over the world in a bewildering range of species. The regular garden variants can live for over 15 years in captive conditions.
To add to their alien sense of mystery: they are hermaphrodite. They do have sexual intercourse, but they are both male and female. So they fertilize each other while mating; which can last for up to half a day, incidentally. Oh yes, and they are slow. This is a real advantage for us humanoid growers, since they are quite unable to outrun us at about one millimetre per second.
So there you have it: you are now a slug and snail expert! Having armed ourselves with knowledge, it is time to put a humane, ecologically sound stop to these intriguing little bastards chewing away at our crops.
How To Protect Cannabis From Slugs And Snails
Protecting cannabis from slugs and snails doesn’t require any chemicals or poisons. That’s good, because it means harvests can be kept organic. The trick is knowing what these creatures love and hate: that way, any grower can lure them away from their weed, or discourage them from coming close. Here are five tips to stop slugs and snails with minimal eco-impact:
Tip 1: Beer!
This has to be one of the greatest side-effects of beer…. Slugs and snails love the stuff, and so you can use it to lure them away from your precious weed. Either they get so shitfaced they’ll never make it to your plant, or they just drown in an orgy of drunken craziness – a fine way to go if you have to. In the evening, just around sunset, placing a few low dishes filled with regular beer in strategic spots should do the trick. Trace back the slime trails to figure out where they come from at night. In the morning, expect to find dishes full of stupidly drunk slugs and snails ready for disposal – if the early birds haven’t done the job for you already, that is.
Tip 2: Copper
This one is a bit of a shocker. Snails and slugs will not cross a line of exposed copper wiring, because they receive a tiny electric shock whenever they touch the metal. No need to put the current on though. Simply fencing off your plants with copper wiring on the ground or around the base of the pot will do the trick – in a non-lethal way.
Growers who don’t fancy stripping their household appliances for wiring needn’t worry: special copper tape for garden use is sold in most nurseries and DIY stores. Anyone raising cannabis in pots will find it easy to trace a ring of copper tape around the pot: that will keep the suckers out for sure, and they can be re-used next grow season!
Tip 3: Salt
The permeable skin of molluscs makes them vulnerable to outside influences that cause dehydration. Contact with salt is therefore highly unpleasant for these slimy crawlies, because salt will drain the bodily fluids out of them. This is lethal, theoretically speaking, but killing them is not necessary. Don’t go around chasing slugs and sprinkling them with salt while you cackle maniacally… If you draw lines of salt around the plants and areas you want to protect, it will discourage snails and slugs from crossing over to their cannabis prey. That’s great news: even if you happened to drink all your beer yourself by accident, you’ll probably have some salt to spare. Be careful not to sprinkle salt on flowerbeds or vegetable patches, though, as it will kill your vegetation if you do… Salt is only to be used on floor tiles and concrete!
Tip 4: Become A Backyard Bouncer
Becoming a backyard bouncer takes some effort, but it’s an effective countermeasure if you have the time. Patrol your garden in the morning and look in all the cool, damp, and shady places. Lift up logs, rocks, and tiles and snatch any slug you see hiding underneath. Again, there is no need for genocide here; just collect them in a bucket and release them a few hundred metres from your garden. Now, you didn’t get this from us, but these slug relocation projects make a great technique for anyone with annoying neighbours down the street!
After hunting and removing slugs and snails for about a week, possibly in combination with the other methods described above, you’ll find your local slug and snail populations dwindling to non-existence. That means any cannabis grower can now protect their Amsterdam Genetics darlings from snails and slugs, thus giving them a fair chance at reaching full flowering maturity!
Tip 5: Natural Defences
Dedicated outdoor growers tend to have a certain fondness of nature. That’s why we saved a special slug and snail tip for last, which uses the power of natural defences to their advantage. Smart planting can help distract or repel our slimy adversaries in a very organic and completely harmless way, using our slug and snail knowledge to full effect. Attracting specific slug predators is a smart way of using garden wildlife to fight a backyard proxy war on your behalf – how cool is that?!
Smart Planting To Protect Cannabis From Slugs And Snails
Discouraging slugs and snails from gobbling up cannabis plants can be surprisingly simple: just give the beasties something they like even better than weed plants! Investing a little spare cash in some lettuce or cabbage seeds and planting them around the designated weed grow spots can work like a charm. Our slippery subjects will be unable to resist all those tender veggies and binge on that before they even notice what’s growing behind.
The principle of smart planting can also be used the other way around, by planting crops snails and slugs find icky. Garlic works like a charm (against slugs as well as against vampires – that’s double protection!), as do herbs like sage, mint, and lavender. This approach has even more advantages than the lettuce diversion technique; growers end up with harvestable cannabis plants as well as having a garden full of fresh kitchen herbs!
Natural defences can be botanical, but growers can also deploy animal allies to protect their cannabis from snails and slugs. Gardens that are hedgehog-friendly (a simple pile of leaves to sleep under is a good start) are lethal ground for snails by default.
Growers living near ponds may want to encourage ducks to wander about, as they love to nibble on a few squishy escargots for lunch. Weed growers with enough space could also consider enlisting a squad of chickens to patrol the growing grounds. That’s fresh eggs on top of safe and sound cannabis plants: making smart use of natural allies definitely pays off!
Other Threats Around The Garden
With these four tips handy, any grower can manage a snail and slug free grow in the garden without ruining local soil, plant, and animal life. Sadly, however, protecting cannabis from slugs and snails is no guarantee for a problem-free grow. There are many other threats out there in the wild, including mold issues like bud rot and mildew, aphids, harsh weather conditions, poor location, bad soil types, acidity, and nutrient problems. Don’t panic, though: we have you covered. Even first-time growers will be fine if they stick to our grow blogs.
Oh yes, there’s one thing we can’t repeat often enough. Remember that no matter how well you protect your cannabis from slugs, snails, and other threats, the only real guarantee to get a good harvest is starting out with top quality seeds!