Snail Season: The San Fran Remix


When Cameron delivered the last word on brown garden snails on Monday — great, biblical swarms of the things — I knew I’d have to respond, and visually too, since she said it all so well. I do battle with the demon mollusks a few hundred miles north of Cameron’s besieged garden, as the images above attest. I don’t know whether we’ve got quite the volume of the creatures she gets, but there have been nights when I’ve captured a kilogram’s-worth or more. Like Cameron, I can’t quite bring myself to eat them, though I know they are fed on the finest organic greens and seedlings. But I’m not so gentle as she when it comes to relocation — mine go straight into the home compost pile, so I’m getting their nutrients one way, if not the other.

When I first encountered the snails a few years ago, I was delighted and mesmerized. But as their numbers increased with the spring rains, the shoots and leaves in my garden disappeared and the slime trails on the patio multiplied into superhighways, my joy turned to concern, and concern first to horror and then, finally, to grim deadly determination. I am heartless now in my persecution of the snails — I have become hardened, numb to the brutality I mete out most every night. I have lost a part of my soul, in other words, but I have gained a whole world of salad. We all must live with the bargains we make.


Music by Nimbleweed. Golden Gate Bridge photo by Rich Niewiroski Jr., Wikimedia Commons.

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3 thoughts on “Snail Season: The San Fran Remix

  1. Oh my. Your excellent photos (is that a snail with a snail goiter?) have whipped me into a demonic snail frenzy. Beware, snails, the end is near!

    And I love this: “I have lost a part of my soul, in other words, but I have gained a whole world of salad. We all must live with the bargains we make.” So true.

  2. I concur that it’s a harsh bargain. But it’s unavoidable.

    As a gardener, I sometimes wonder about people who become vegetarian because they “can’t stand to harm animals.” Perhaps they mean mammals when they say “animals,” because as anyone who has maintained a garden knows, vegetables can only be successfully raised via the wholesale slaughter of snails, slugs, and insects. Farms also have to control rodents, moles, and birds. While there may be nonlethal methods of controlling these pests, my guess is that the rodents and insectivora tend to fare poorly.

    In our small garden, we follow organic and complementary gardening principles, but I still have to engage in extensive murder of katydids, aphids, and slugs.

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