Using red pepper for voles and coffee for snails.

sun_n_surf_chaserMay 28, 2007


I am new to shade/woodland gardening. I have less than a 1/4 acre with over 50 mature mountain laurel and almost 100 trees. Needless to say, I don't have one blade of grass.

So, I'm also new to dealing with voles(not moles) and snails(not slugs).


Although I have a feral cat, the neighbors feed him so he's not interested in eating my voles.

-I have coated roots and bulbs of everything I have planted thus far with red pepper in hopes that it will deter them.

-I did run across a recipe but it confuses me. They suggest taking sliced cork, soaking it in bacon grease and oil of anise then tossing the cork into their ground holes. Ingesting cork kills them. Since voles are vegetarians only,I'm suspicious of why they would be attracted to bacon grease. Instead, I'm going to try soaking the cork slices in peanut butter, which is a tried and true bait.

-I'm not going to use traps and I don't want to use common mouse traps baited with peanut butter for fear of the birds or squirrels will get hurt.


My to my chagrin, I have discovered that I have a small variety of snails that love to infest my potted plants by the dozens. Since it's my first season for this new environment, I will assume the snails don't care if their in a pot or in the ground.

Keeping in mind that I am planting many gardens in place of grass and having paths in between, watering in itself will be a challenge much less spraying each plant with ammonia, so that's not an option for me.

I've read enough pro caffeine/coffee grounds victories to give this a try.

Questions about caffeine.

Do people suggest using fresh ground coffee instead of used coffee grounds because research has indicated a 2% solutuion of caffeine is effected and used coffee only has .5% caffeine?

Should I add coffee grounds to my soil mix or make a circular barrier with grounds around the plant?

Is there any concern about the long term affects of caffeine leaching into your soil?

I am thankful for any comments, advice or methods you have tried.


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Basically slugs are snails without shells. I started using escar-go 2 years ago as I had a horrendous slug problem. It is safe for you and your pets--its only iron--but it stops slugs from eating and might work with your snails.
I swear by it.
Good luck

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 1:14PM
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jbann23(6 RI)

Mulchwoman is right. Escar-go or Sluggo are both environmentally safe yet very effective. It's a bit expensive but a little goes a long way. Use your coffee grounds in your compost heap, worms love 'em. I've never dealt with voles.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 7:46PM
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As you develop your organic garden you provide the right environment for slugs, cool, moist dark areas for them to live and grow in. To protect the plants these slugs seem to like the best, until the toad population grows enough to control them, spray the plants with cold, caffienated coffee, the same stuff people drink only allowed to cool.
Red pepper sprinkled around plants, if it is the really hot stuff, may aid in controlling the voles, but most often putting some sharp stone around the planting areas helps the best for voles.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:07AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I believe that it's the liquid coffee sprayed on the plants that deters snails and slugs - the coffee grounds don't do much. If you apply them very heavily, you tend to get mold. Use the coffee grounds as a light sprinkling around acid-loving plants, or add them to your compost pile - earthworms like them. The caffeine, either in your compost or sprayed on the plants, won't be enough to make a difference.

I know that spraying oil of peppermint mixed with water around a room, almost daily, will deter mice from making their home there. You could try using either the oil or fresh or dried mint leaves, scattered around the plants you want to protect, or tossed down holes. Other essential oils might be a deterrent also.

If you could persuade one to move in, a nice big blacksnake would thin the vole population. I am just glad I only have meadow voles, which can do a sufficient amount of damage, but .... My cats and dog seem to keep them under control.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 9:03AM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

All pepermint oil did for me was to give my mice fresh breath.
Coffee grounds were a great fertilizer.

If you have voles, you have moles, because voles use mole holes/trails to get around. They don't dig their own -- much.

You might try that copper stripping around the edges of your pots. It's rather expensive for larger gardening areas, but they say this actually does keep snails from traversing the coppered area. I don't know about the electrocution thing, but I enjoy the thought.

Plant your bulbs and plants with crushed oyster shells. They're sharp, degrade slowly, and add calcium to the soil

I envy your trees. :)


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:59AM
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One point--don't use the coffee (or any caffeine products) in any area where you have an interest to keep frogs or toads around. Caffeine, diluted to 2%, is what they successfuly use in Hawaii to kill invasive frogs.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 4:15PM
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What works for me with voles is the mouse trap with peanut butter. I put it next to an active access hole and then cover it with a large coffee can. No danger to other animals and the rain doesn't wash off the PB. Tom

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 10:02PM
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