Wednesday, 19 June 2024 14:25

Bob's Blog: Snail Scourge

Written by  Bob Campbell MW
Bob Campbell MW Bob Campbell MW

OPINION: I have a 50% share in a vineyard and for the first time ever, snails are threatening to decimate my crop.

I should reveal that the vineyard has only one vine although it is quite a big vine. I share the vineyard labour and the crop with my son-inlaw. Our single vineyard vine is Albany Surprise which is the variety you are likely to receive if you buy it from a garden centre. Albany Surprise is an eating grape that is often described as “foxy.”

We grow our vine under a strict (well… strict-ish) organic regime. I recall visiting a South African vineyard which had a snail problem that they successfully managed with ducks. The ducks gorged themselves on snails until they could eat no more. They would then flop over on their backs and sleep until the duck-keeper arrived to gather them up and deliver them to the picking crew. I was told that the duck eggs were so fortified by snail shells that they were difficult to crack although their contents were very tasty. Ducks remain a tempting option while negotiations continue with duck-unfriendly neighbours.

Copper-based fungicides will do to snails what Jack the Ripper did to latenight closing but I would have to eat so much humble pie after boasting to friends and neighbours about being clean and green that it is simply not worth it. Someone suggested breeding the snails and selling them to the various French expats who live nearby. Food for thought.

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