Saturday, December 11, 2010

Looking after the snails



So there I was last Sunday evening, washing the turnip tops ready for dinner, when I found a snail. Well, it happens. He seemed to have survived 24 hours in the fridge quite happily, and was clearly perking up, so I popped him on my spider plant while I decided what to do with him. And then I found another one ... and another one... and ...


By the time I'd finished I had five of them - and quite honestly had lost most of my desire for turnip tops that night. But what was I going to do with them? Temperatures outside were well below zero, and a quick look at the internet said that snails freeze if they haven't got themselves into a well-protected position before temperatures drop. And whilst one on the balcony chomping away at the plants probably wouldn't have done much harm (they were very small), I wasn't sure I wanted five of them running rampage for the whole winter.

So the snailery was born. A large glass vase covered with clingfilm with airholes punched in. And the five of them - Fred, George, Ron, Bill and Percy - have been happily chomping away on a basil plant, plus various vegetable peelings that I've popped in for them, for the past week.


OK, OK. Like my family you probably now have that expression on your face which says This time she's really flipped - but I am not alone. I have discovered a whole website dedicated to keeping snails as pets...

And oh dear - I find I have to get my act together. I've got to provide them with calcium, cook their carrots and potatoes, stock up with tortoise food in case I get snowed in and can't provide them with fresh greens, make sure they have somewhere to lay their eggs, protect them from mites ...

I'm not entirely sure whether I'm supposed to take them for regular walks - but I suppose come spring a few excursions on the balcony might be in order...

12 comments:

One said...

Oh gosh! You even named them! Isn't it hibernating time for them?

grumblebunny said...

Aw. This is totally adorable.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

A gardener choosing to nurture snails? That's a new one! I like to feed them to the birds before they feed on my plants. I don't name them before I sacrifice them though... Each to their own!

freerangegirl said...

I think the banded ones like yours are getting rare over here so you can consider yourself a snail conservationist! (just dont send them over here please!)

Jan said...

Sue, let me check your temperature... do you feel ok? What are you going to do with them in the spring, and when they have babies? I would go and find a nice sheltered spot in the park and dump them.

My Hesperides Garden said...

Just wanted to say hi Sue. You left a comment ages ago via Blotanica which I joined then really didn't get my head around. As we're both in Italy I'll be visiting again though I do hope not to hear that your entire balcony has been eaten by snails. One of my past posts had a photo of a group of snails all huddling in a dead leaf, to be honest they didn't last 2 minutes after I took the photo. Christina

Alistair said...

Sue you really did make me laugh, that's you and my wife, the only snail loving gardeners in the world. she even has a snail garden ornament. She is not so kind to the slugs.

Ivynettle said...

Little snails are cute! Though I'm not sure I'd bother to keep them alive all through the winter.
The names certainly made me laugh!

mike 'hazeltree' thompson said...

Hi Sue, a delightful post..i shall keep every snail i find and post it to you to keep the others company!

happy new year!
mike

Byddi - We didn't come here for the grass... said...

I can't condone such behavior - snails and gardens don't mix! If I find any they are swiftly dispatched with the squishing stick - they don't suffer and I get to have vegetables - win:win!

charlottesplot said...

Hi there Sue, this made me laugh. Last summer I said I'd pay my three daughters to gather up all the snails and then we could release them somewhere. But during the collection process they began to embark on some crazy game which involved snail races and building them leafy kingdoms. No snails left my garden but the girls were occupied for HOURS. I have a lot of photos including a couple when they allowed tiny, tiny snails to crawl across their faces. Aaaggh!

Janells said...

Hi - this is an interesting idea, an alternative to chucking them in the nearest field which I can do here! I also put them on a path so the thrushes can get at them, though that is a bit hit and miss.

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