Monday, November 06, 2006

Vermin beware

October Garden

Every now and then something shatters my mild-mannered, peace-loving, bodhichitta-aspiring, hippy-dippy default mode of being. Usually vermin of some kind. Long-time readers may remember a certain over-excited rat that inspired a murderous vengeful rage in me. Cockroaches have a similar effect. Snails and slugs feasting on my seedlings can bring on a slightly muted version: not so much a red haze as an orange one, enough to make me buy (organic) snail poison.

Above is a photo of the vege garden taken three weeks ago. Below is a photo of the same garden (different angle) taken today. See how well it is coming along? I am overwhelmed with lettuces and peas needing to be eaten now now now. I tend it lovingly, enjoying the satisfaction only possible in a Very Small Garden: a temporary sense of completion.

November Garden

But! There is a thief enjoying the fruits of my labours. Every morning I see that something has eaten more of the unripe strawberries, still-small, pale green, seedy nubbins that must be awfully sour. My pleasurable anticipation of the enjoying a lush crimson strawberry harvest is dashed on a daily basis. I suspected that the strawberry thief is the same villain who is nibbling my bean seedlings, clattering across the roof and laughing maniacally outside my window at night. Have you guessed yet?

When I was a kid we had a possum wander through our house one evening like a family cat. I remember the hysteria when we realised it wasn't actually cat, but I don't remember how that particular possum problem was solved. My current possum problem made me go looking for a trap. Turns out the humane Timms traps cost more than I want afford (about the price of 10 punnets of strawberries) but then Nola at NRC offered me a Free Once In A Life Time Offer of a 'small bag' of possum poison. Was I interested? Oh yes I was, imagining a small (strawberry punnet sized) bag of poison. When she slung a big old paper sack on the counter I thought she would be siphoning off a portion for me. But no, as I signed the register for my Free Once In A Life Time Offer she explained that 2kg is the small bag. It usually comes in 20kg sacks.

Using a couple of old plastic milk bottles donated by a work mate I have made bait stations and set them up around the garden. After an initial cautious nibble the first night, subsequent nights have seen the possums gorging on poison and even trying to carry some away for midday snacking (I'm guessing this from the trail of blue bait strewn on the ground). I'm glad the poison is being eaten but it is slow acting and unfortunately the possums are still enthusiastically eating every baby strawberry they can find. See below.

Evidence of murderous rage
Exhibit A: strawberry plants with gnawed empty hulls in the foreground
Exhibit B: Bait station with poison in background
Bonus Exhibit: Stump in right background is a nasty tree I tore apart with my bare hands* because it was shading the strawberries, sucking up all the water, threatening to grow through the plastic sheet ceiling and dropping horrible sticky seed pods on everything.
*Have I mentioned that all this gardening is done without any proper tools?

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