Protecting Your Cannabis from Slugs and Snails, Responsibly

Although growing your own weed is fairly easy, as we’ve explained in a previous blogpost (READ HERE), it’s not always fun and games when trying to provide in your own homegrown cannabis. Slimy predators like snails and slugs could pose a serious threat to growing saplings and blooming cannabis plants. Luckily, our skilled Professor Harvest has some tips  on how to get rid of these slimeballs, responsibly.

Stopping the Slimeballs

Recently, I was approached by a fellow cannabis home-grower; one who had faced a terrible ordeal in her very own backyard. Having ordered some top-notch seeds from the Amsterdam Genetics stock, she had been carefully nurturing her saplings in her garden. Watering and nurturing them with great affection had seen the seeds develop into healthy young plants, and all seemed fine.

Then, one morning, she noticed the leaves hanging limply down the stems. Upon closer inspection, she discovered that she had been brutally victimised overnight by some of the slimiest trespassers known to horticulture: slugs. Her beloved plants had been chewed right through and were quite beyond saving. So obviously, she turned to your trusted Professor for advice.

My initial response was one of all-out warfare against all things slimy. Then, my academic training kicked in, and I figured there must be a more humane and eco-friendly way to keep these dreaded predators at bay. Surely, a more sophisticated response then wholesale slaughter was available somehow. I consulted literature and asked colleagues for their advice, and I came up with some fine tricks to deter these slimy interlopers without resorting to backyard massacres. First off, let me enlighten you on some basics of slug and snail biology and behaviour, in the spirit of Sun Tzu’s Art of War: Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy

Basic garden biology draws a broad distinction between two types of slimeballs: slugs and snails. They have a fearsome reputation for gnawing through just about every plant there is, especially young saplings, which definitely includes ganja juveniles. Both fall under the mollusc phylum, home to squids, octopuses and a huge range of aquatic snail species among others.

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 and providing great protection from predators and sunlight dehydration.

In lack of a hard shell, slugs can squeeze into any hole and are hard to stop in their tracks.

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 and 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. 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.

Stopping Snails in Their Tracks

Protecting your first-class Amsterdam Genetics seeds from slugs and snails doesn’t require any chemicals or poisons, so you can keep your stash organic. All you need to know is what these creatures love and hate, and you’ll sleep tight in the knowledge that your crop is safe in your garden or on your balcony. Here are four official Professor’s tips with minimal eco-impact:

  • 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, go outside and place a few low dishes filled with regular beer in strategic spots. Investigate the slime trails to figure out where they come from at night. Be sure to drink any beer you have left over and sleep like a baby. In the morning, you’ll be able to just collect dishes full of stupidly drunk slugs and snails for disposal – if the early birds haven’t done the job for you already, that is.

Snails and slugs happen to LOVE a sip of beer
  • 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.

Copper wire could be enough to keep slimey predators at bay
  • Salt

The permeable skin of molluscs makes them vulnerable to outside influences that cause dehydration. Contact with salt is decidedly unpleasant for these crawlies, because salt will drain the bodily fluids out of them. This is lethal, theoretically speaking, but killing them is not necessary if you draw lines of salt around the plants and areas you want to protect. 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…

Slugs and snails will always try to avoid salt, as it would dehydrate and kill them when they get in contact with it.
  • Backyard Bouncer

Being 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. A great technique for anyone with annoying neighbours down the street! After doing this for about a week, possibly in combination with the methods described above, you’ll find your local slug and snail populations decimated, giving your Amsterdam Genetics darlings a fair chance at reaching full flowering maturity!

Sometimes you just need to get your hands dirty to get the job done!

Grassroots Growers, Unite!

So there you have it, my dear grassroots growers. I hope this will help you in your cultivation efforts, and if you have any cool personal methods to share with the Professor, please let me know by replying on Facebook or Instagram. Together, we can stop these intriguing garden hooligans in their tracks!