growing vegetables with native wildlife

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Each year, I plant my garlic on the shortest day of the year, this being the ideal time to do so and an easy time to remember. A good friend gave me some young garlic plants which should give me a good crop to harvest on the longest day, equally as easy to remember. I'm hoping this means the wildlife will leave the kitchen garden alone as they say garlic is an easy crop to grow, nothing will eat it except me of course.  Just what I want to hear.

For years now I have been battling the wildlife in my garden especially in my kitchen garden. They seem to enjoy my herbs and vegetables as much as I do, sometimes more because they eat the lot and I get nothing.

I have tried everything.  If they are not digging them up they are eating them from the top.  I have stopped growing Italian parsley as it was a magnet for the possums.  Then I discovered the possums and the bandicoots don't like the smell of thyme, rosemary and sage.  Needless to say I set about planting a lot along the garden paths and borders of my vegetable patch hopeful that it will work. I also found that mint and basil helped when in season. The possums have also taken a liking to the sorrel.  All I can say is they have great taste, I just wish they would leave some for me.

I have tried covering the garden with chicken wire, shade cloth and netting, all it seems to achieve is to make it hard for me to attend to the plants as they are still able to get in.  One season I planted a crop of beetroot, I love beetroot and was so looking forward to the lovely purple round roots being ready to turn into a tasty dish.  Every morning while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea I would peer out the kitchen window and check out the bandicoot damage in the beetroot patch.  Sometimes I would think I had been passed over that night but once the sun reached the garden the little plants would start to wilt because they were out of soil  I would race out to replant and water them and hope they would recover. I think this went on for a least three weeks.  It was a matter of who was going to give up first. I persevered and they finally stopped, allowing the beets to develop into mature well formed beetroot which I harvested and enjoyed thoroughly.

I had a similar experience with rhubarb.  I thought it was not going to be touched as the leaves are poisonous for humans to eat.  Unfortunately possums aren't aware of this and don't seem to mind  them at all.  So it was a repeat of the beets, they ate the leaves and the bandicoots dug up the roots. I have to say they won this time, but I had the last say.  In a fit of frustration which most gardeners can relate to, I decided if I couldn't get to enjoy them why should they.  So I pulled all the plants out, what was left of them anyway, and that was that.

I am happy to report that so far the garlic has indeed been left alone and is developing nicely.  I'm looking forward to some freshly harvested garlic on the longest day of the year in summer.

Please pop in again soon, for my two recipes I've prepared for you using these two wonderful ingredients Beetroot and Rhubarb. 


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