93.9 BayFM Geelong
You may recognise this story. It's the tale of an idealistic gardner who after watching a few episodes of River Cottage or some Good Life re-runs starts their self sufficiency odyssey by furiously planting seedlings.
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What a joy it is to place my (whoops, I mean their) hand in mother earth's soil and plant a luscious seedling just like nature intended. A few days later, keen to see how high the newly planted leafy babies have grown our excited gardener is met with the backyard equivalent of a napalm attack. Quite simply, nature isn't playing fair.
Okay, so I've written about Permaculture before and working with nature rather than against, but by growing human quality food you're making some VERY attractive offerings to the local bird, bug and slug populations.
So unless you're prepared to garden simply for the exercise and without the expectation of having it produce food for you then here are my top 5 ways to protect your harvest:
1. Let's get physical
Birds and white butterflies can't eat when they can't get to. In Geelong's productive gardening mecca - Bell Park - I once saw elderly locals using old lace curtains covering cabbages to protect them from the green caterpillar producing white butterflies. Copper tape is available to deter snails but I confess I haven't actually tried it…here's a clip showing 1) It works and 2) I need to get a life!
2. The labour of little people
If you've got kids or your neighbours do, try offering $5 for every 50-100 snails and/or green caterpillars found. The same goes for butterflies although you'll need a net and the price per butterfly will have to go up considerably!
3. Carlton United Bug catchers
Simply bury a plastic dish (jar lids are not quite deep enough I reckon) or bottom of a soft drink or milk carton. Fill with beer and the local snail population will be attracted to the yeasty goodness and promptly fall in and drown!
Pellets have come a long way, with iron based ingredients taking the place of more nasty chemicals that harm pets and wildlife.
5. Habitat destruction.
Not much you can do about birds and butterflies, but by keeping bags of potting mix and lose timber in a dry area they'll be less reasons for snails and slugs to hang in your patch. I mean how would they like it if we moved in with them?