Although all forms of growing marijuana come with its own set of challenges and obstacles, it can be said that raising weed plants outdoors, deep in the throes of the elements, comes with more difficulty. Among these tribulations are the hordes of pests, that are attracted to luscious green gardens full of nourishing vegetation.

Perhaps less common, but by no means less harmful to a grower's outdoor crops are slugs and snails. These slimy beasts closely resemble each other: Slow moving, fast eating creatures equipped with antennas. The visual factor that sets them apart is the snails iconic shell, its portable mode of protection.

Snails and slugs are easy to identify and physically seeing them in your garden is an obvious sign of their presence. However, you may spot damage to your plants before you lay eyes upon these invaders and decide to take action against them. One obvious sign, that either the slug or the snail has developed an appetite over your precious crop are slime trails.

Slug-eaten leaves
Slug-eaten leaves

These trails can be found streamed over leaves, patios and grass and look exactly like … slime. They glisten in the sun and are unmistakable. Hopefully you manage to spot a few of these before any real damage takes place.

Another telltale sign, that these molluscs are attempting to chop your weed, are the obvious damage they leave behind during their hungry rampages. Snails leave irregular holes during feasting due to their mouth shape, leaving scalloped edges around the holes they create; the edges may smooth out as the damage increases. Slugs and snails will target the tender leaves of each of your cannabis plants.

Although an initial assault may not cause too much damage, leaving this problem untended to could soon see, that your plants are stripped down of their valuable photosynthesising leaves.

So this problem does exist and the threat is real, but what can be done about it in order to protect one's crop and enable maximum yields to be obtained? Well, before going on an all out killing spree, it is important to take a deep breathe and get real about the situation. It borders on the impossible to remove absolutely any trace of slugs and snails from your gardening environment. And after all, these creatures play a role in the ecosystem. However, it is possible to utilise various techniques, that will lower the population and therefore minimise the risk of your weed plants receiving any damage, that may reduce their size and health.

There are various non-chemical methods of tackling slugs and snails, which might be preferred by organic gardeners as they may be less disruptive to the environment and the health of the crop. Here are a few of them.

GO HUNTING

Slug in garden
Slug in garden

Many sources suggest, that the best time to hunt and find slugs and snails is between evening and night time.

Go out with torch in hand and thoroughly explore your garden in search of these creatures. Check underneath leaves, plant pots, garden furniture, deep grass and tree trunks. Once located, pick them up and move them far away from your precious crop. Perhaps into a nearby forest or natural habitat if you have the time.

Additionally, placing hiding places for slugs and snails around the garden may help draw them into a smaller area and make them easier to find and remove. Try using bricks with holes in, broken plant pots or even decoy plants for this.

ATTRACT SNAIL AND SLUG PREDATORS

Using techniques, that attract the natural predators of slugs and snails into your garden is a far easier way to eliminate them than going out looking for them yourself. These predators perhaps have much more of an urgent reason to find them than you do - they need to eat them to survive.

Hedgehog
Hedgehog

Some animals that view slugs and snails as a fulfilling snack include newts, toads, several bird species and hedgehogs.

As well as consuming these plant-munching pests, they will also leave your valuable cannabis patch alone to grow in peace. One great method of ensuring these animals will pay your garden a visit is to spare some room and create a pond area.

Some of the mentioned animals will use this as a water source and may grow to depend on it, or see it as a place to retreat to.

INTRODUCE NEMATODES

Nematodes are naturally occurring microorganisms, that already exist within soil. They act as slug parasites and end up killing slugs once they have infected their host. The use of nematodes is highly advantageous compared to that of chemicals. Nematodes are a type of roundworm, that does not contain toxins and is therefore harmless to humans and warm-blooded animals. This is good news for gardeners with pets!

Using nematodes to tackle snails and slugs will also have many positive unintended side effects; they are so effective as a type of biological pesticide, that they will also protect your weed plants against army worms, fungus gnats, root worms, fleas, root weevils, cutworms, stem borers and bill bugs.

Nematodes
Nematodes

Different types of nematodes work in different ways. Some varieties can literally hunt down their prey using a homing mechanism based on carbon dioxide levels, whereas others patiently wait underground for their prey to pass them. When a nematode finds its prey and attacks, it released a toxic bacteria, that kills the host in a matter of days.

Nematodes can be purchased in the forms of gels, sponges, clay and dried granules. These products can be applied directly to the soil, localised application is the most effective, especially after a sighting when the target invader is present in the soil. Nematodes thrive in moist soil, as this gives them room to move about in the water filled spaces between the soil. After administering nematodes, finish off the application with a quick splash of water.

LAY DOWN SOME TRAPS

Cannabis beer snail eating trap
Cannabis beer snail eating trap

Fortunately for ganja gardening cannabis cultivators, slugs and snails appetite goes beyond fresh green vegetation.

Traps can be created to lure and even kill unwelcome slugs and snails. A well known and effective trap consists of a jar sunk into the soil and then part filled with beer. These critters will not be able to resist the smell and will fill it up hastily.

For this reason it should be checked and emptied regularly. The same can be done with emptied halves of orange, melon and grapefruit skins.

BUILD BARRIERS

Moisture absorbing minerals and repelling gels can be used as barriers around plants as a means of defence.

Furthermore, copper tape and rings can be used to form a perimeter and is said to give slugs and snails a deterring electric shock due to a reaction that occurs when physical contact is made.

LIST OF COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS

LIST OF COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS

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