I hesitate to talk too loudly about dealing with pests in the garden for fear that they may reek their revenge. The chickens and I have already had a summit on what’s acceptable scratching and what the consequences will be if they persist in flying the coup and digging up my new beds. The rabbits and I have a pact which allows them free range of the lush grass as long as they steer clear of the vegetable garden. Despite regular protestations, the hounds continue to ignore every request to not walk on the flower beds, mark their territory or other perform other unsavory habits.
The wild birds are the biggest threat to my cherry trees and indeed pretty much everything else in the Kitchen Garden. They successfully pilfered my recent planting of red onions I suspect on the grounds that they looked very much like tasty worms waving in the wind. With the cherries and gooseberries bearing fruit it’s a race against time to create the protective barriers to keep the birds from helping themselves when I’m not looking. You’d think that they’d been happy enough pecking my cabbages to death.
Mice have become a pain too digging up garlic and having a ferret around the potatoes. I was tempted to set a few mousetraps but that seems churlish since I’ve already cut off the source of rich pickings by locking up all the chicken and dog food into lockable bins. Instead they are feasting on the compost heap which I’m OK with as long as it keeps the rats away. Yes, rats! Although they elicit a distinct yuck factor with me, we’re luckier than some of our neighbors who seem to be over-run with large rodents.
We tend not to get too many slugs and snails on account of the number of wild birds that parade the garden although I’m always vigilant since we have a proliferation of hostas which would be perfect fodder. My nemesis is the cabbage white butterflies that love to flitter amongst the vegetables with potentially devastating effect. I’ve planted heaps of companion flowers to distract them but will be netting my brassicas this year to avoid a repeat of the locust like devastation of last year.
For all the irritations of birds, mice and other inspects the biggest threat to our gardening endeavors is the Wellington wind which can strike at any time and beat the garden into submission. I’m in despair at the moment with my broad beans which however hard I try to protect and tie them up well seem to entice punishment from the wind and turn them into bedraggled and battle weary specimens.
I’m all for biodiversity and embracing the principles of permaculture into growing just as long as I can reap the rewards of my growing efforts rather than losing them to other garden residents. So this weekend it’s a rush to install the fruit cages and continue with the almost daily routine of tying in plants to canes. And when the kitchen garden is battle ready I shall start on remedying the damage to our deciduous trees which as mere babes in tree life are still struggling to find their feet and battle the onslaught of gorse. But that’s a whole other story for another day!