Aside from us coastal newbies, that is… It is always good for a gardener to know who will be sharing the land with you. I got off relatively easily at the last place in the swamp, as there weren’t all that many things trying to take advantage of my good efforts. There were slugs but not many snails. But these were easily taken care of with a judicious application of little blue pellets around the outside of the beds where they were lurking in the cracks. As my intention is to feed my family and not risk my crops on things that don’t work well, then I am happy to compromise here to ensure the end result.
There were bird pests, cheeky sparrows who would gobble up my seeds, pecked at my leaves and nipped the growing tips out of my peas. But with a bit of netting, this problem was easily fixed. And then there were the pukeko, swamp hens, who dug up all my seedlings out of curiosity and left them lying on the surface to dry out and die if I wasn’t vigilant. Plastic bags tied to bamboo stakes – while ugly, was sufficient to frighten them off. And we can’t forget the white cabbage butterfly, allowing it’s unattended offspring to shred my brassicas.
And that was about the extent of it. I think it fair to say it was mostly pest free. In hindsight I didn’t really appreciate just how blessed I was. I mean – there wasn’t a fence around the garden to keep critters out, because it wasn’t necessary. I did create a partial fence but that was purely for the aesthetic and so I could have something to wrap my compost heap around. I don’t even have much of a garden yet and I already know I will be creating a battlefield.
There are rabbits. I know this for a fact as Fennel the Cat bought one into the caravan last night at around 4am. Cats are such givers! I have also seen them bounding down the driveway trying to escape the approaching car. They have little sense – instead of just moving over to the side, they hippity hop all over the place, because disappearing over the nearest hill. I won’t be taking any chances – there will be rabbit proof fencing going up.
There are deer as well. However, in the 96 days since we moved here – I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them. Although I have a reliable source- the lovely house movers were telling me about how they saw them every morning on the way down the driveway. How come I haven’t seen them? – I’ve been up and down the drive at that time of morning taking kids to school and never noticed them. Maybe they were in a truck and so could see further. I think I’m going to have to get up at about 6:30am and go for a stealth walk and try and spot them. It depends on how determined I am to size up these potential garden eaters. The neighbours assure me it is a well established small herd that everyone loves to see about the place. So I have to take the word of others that they are there and build deer proof fencing around my garden.
Apparently, there are also a lot of frogs. These are friends of the garden and I’m happy they are here. Having said that I’ve never seen any either. Once again the lovely house movers drew my attention to these little fellas as they had to be rescued from the bottom of the 1.4 metre foundation holes before the posts went in. Maybe I should dig a hole and wait so I can meet them.
There are also plenty of mice. Aside from the cat gifting them to me in abundance, they are also inviting themselves in to be warm. The other day as I was getting ready for bed one shot across the mattress along the wall and disappeared down in to the workings of the caravan. This is important to know as I will need to make sure my seed supplies and my harvest are kept safe from this tiny fuzzball looking for a fast feast.
An inhabitant that took me by surprise was the snails. If you believe everything you see on the great big internet, you would think snails hate crawling over sand. But after the first major rainfall we had here, the ground was crawling with them. Goodness knows where they had been, but at least I now know they are lurking about the place unaware of the feast I’m inadvertently about to set before them.
There are also some interesting surprises. Ordinarily the only butterflies I see are Cabbage Whites (they’re here too!) and monarchs because I feed them. However there is such variety here. I haven’t managed to take any photos as I never have my camera at the right time. But I have seen a Common Copper which is like a tiny monarch and I’ve seen a much larger Yellow Admiral. Now I know there is such variety I will be on the lookout for more. Oh and the dragonflies are the size of real dragons – they are huge!
It is a real privilege to be a gardener as it gives the opportunity to notice or be on the lookout for wildlife that may or may not want to harm the garden. Creatures who would ordinarily go about their day to day lives unnoticed due to the busyness of ours.
Come again soon – I’ll see what else needs digging up.
Sarah the Gardener : o)