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Sweet Gum Seed Pods as Slug and Snail Repellant

Sweet Gum Seed Pods As Slug And Snail Repellant

November and December are the time to gather organic slug and snail deterrent for next summer’s garden. Autumn winds will have rattled the sweetgum trees and loosened their spiky seed pods to the ground. Homeowners are obliged to rake them up from walkways and lawns as they can trip up pedestrians. Why not save them to protect tender seedlings? Sweetgum trees are native to the southeastern states but are planted in Oregon as an ornamental landscape tree. The lovely five-pointed leaves turn red, orange, and burgundy in autumn. The seed pods, given unpleasant names such as “ankle turners” and “porcupine eggs,” are problems for landowners. They cause lumps in the lawn as they don’t decay quickly. These troublesome sticklers are treasures for organic gardens.

Gather Sweetgum Pods for Pest Management

Rake up the sweetgum balls into a pile for storage to be used later or left on the lawn in areas where dog markings or neighborhood cats are a problem. The stored sweetgum balls are a boon to gardeners who are tortured with slugs and snails. When new seedlings are planted in the spring, surround the new growth with the seed pods. The sticky spines work as a wonderful organic deterrent to the tender under-bodies of these destructive mollusks.

Advantages of Sweetgum Seed Pods as Pest Management

The advantages in using sweetgum balls as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are many.

  • Sweetgum balls last all summer. If kept dry during the winter, these seed pods will remain spiky until the following autumn.
  • Sweetgum balls are nontoxic. Other slug baits are dangerous to pets, wildlife, and children.
  • Sweetgum balls are free. Even if you don’t have your own tree, most homeowners with one would be delighted to donate their seed pods if asked.
  • Sweetgum balls are portable, unlike tools such as copper strips, which must be nailed in place.
  • Sweetgum balls are flexible. Small flower pots, seed trays, and large garden beds are just a few of the places that can use this plant saving technique.

There are other natural ways deter unwanted diners from your garden. Sweetgum balls are just one clever way to make the best of what nature offers. Organic IPM is designed for gardeners who care about their health and the environment.

Storage of Sweetgum Seed Pods

Store your sweetgum seed pods in a plastic bag or bucket away from moisture and pesky rodents. Keep them with your seed supplies and tomato cages for convenient use in the warmer months.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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