I’ve tried looking at things from a snail’s perspective, I really have. I can see how the stem of a sunflower or courgette plant looks succulent and too delicious to resist, but seeing as they never seem to think about how I feel to come down in the morning to find my beloved seedlings munched away to slimy stalks, then this year I decided enough was enough.
My cunning plan involved buying myself a whole load of guttering and attaching it to my garage wall as well as some trellising I have along the drive. Ha ha! I thought as I screwed in all the brackets and rather counter-intuitively drilled drainage holes in the solid plastic, this will fox the blighters!
Added to the fact that I don’t have a huge amount of garden space, and a four-year-old who likes to play hairdressers with my plants and secateurs, guttering gardens seemed like an ideal solution to my small-space, small-child and snail problem.
Having had the summer to assess their success, I can report that they seem to have offered a 100% snail deterrent and the best lettuces I’ve ever grown. To the point that we (almost but not quite) got sick of lettuce leaves.
My gutter gardens have been a spectacular success. As well as the lettuce I’ve grown spring onions and mara de bois strawberries, which hang over the guttering edges at eye height just waiting to be eaten. I also put some netting up against the trellis and grew about 15 pea plants up them. Okay I’ll never be self-sufficient in fruit and veg, but being able to go vertical and grow things safely away from slimy trespassers has restored my faith in being able to garden organically in an urban back garden.
The only downside I noticed was that the relative shallowness of the guttering means that the soil dries out quicker than in pots, although the ones where I used vermiculite this was less of problem. It also depends on where you site them. The garage gutters get full-on blasts of sun for half of the day so they need more water, whereas in the shadier drive trellis down the side of the house, the soil stays moist for longer, although the windy spells we had over the summer again meant that at times the soil needed more water.
Reluctant to see them stand empty over the autumn and winter I’m going to try some broad beans, winter spring onions, winter lettuce and maybe even a few cabbages to see how they get on.
Having seen this idea so many times on Pinterest I’m amazed it took me this long to give it a go, and next year I may squeeze a few more in along some other vertical spaces. They are a perfect complement to my container growing, and it’s been a joy this summer to finally be able to outwit the snails having tried everything under the sun in other years including nemotodes and copper tape, all to no avail. Slimy beasties 0, gutter gardens 1.