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Fruiting Planting Days in Late Summer – Beating the Mouse Plague

It’s a fruiting planting break by my new lunar calendar, this afternoon through to tomorrow night. We’re off to visit our daughter today. Hopefully I’ll get to do some planting before or after work tomorrow, because I have a shadehouse full of seedlings that are close to overgrown now and need planting out.

I am planting out tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, sweet corn and beans, and putting in another round of all of them as seed. Besides my usual three kinds of beans I have some Rattlesnake beans, homegrown seed, that were given to me. The seed are very beautiful, a bit like pinto beans. They’ll make great beans for shelling and storing, and I’m told they’re a really good flavoured green bean. I’ve germinated most of the seed for planting now. Our winter up here in northern NSW doesn’t usually strike until June, so there’s enough time for a full life cycle and for me to collect seed for planting next spring.  But I’ve saved a dozen of the seeds for insurance, for planting next spring, just in case they don’t like our autumn weather, or in case I have another of my mice disasters.

The mice have been a pain this last year. They got all my pea and snow pea seeds for the first planting last autumn, and all my corn seeds for the first couple of plantings this year. There is apparently a mouse plague over the whole country, brought on by the wet weather. With most plagues of anything, the populations of predators will immediately start building up in response to the increased food source, but the higher up the food chain you go, the slower the response time. The butcher birds, magpies, currawongs, owls, and snakes will all be breeding up. If I poison the mice, I am likely to poison them too, which will take me backwards in the mouse wars. If I trap them in breakneck traps and throw the bodies out, I feed scavengers like goannas rather than hunters. Best thing to do in response to any population explosion is to try to deal with the consequences in the short term, make sure you are providing the best possible conditions for predators to take advantage of it, and sit it out.

My partner brought me home a present last week. We don’t usually go anywhere near the big chain hardware stores, but he had to go there for something else, and with all my grizzling about mice, it seduced him. The idea is great. It is supposed to detect movement and it’s eyes flash this really evil yellow and it makes what you could, with some imagination, suppose was an owl’s hooting noise.

Trouble is, and it’s one of my perennial complaints, Chinese made junk is our culture’s cargo cult, with all the same characteristics as the New Guinea cargo cult of the late 40’s and 50’s.  The movement detector doesn’t work, with the result that it just goes off non-stop and flattens the batteries.

I’m hoping it works just by looking a bit like an owl anyway. It joins Henry guarding the garden. In fact neither of them do nearly as well as this little guy. I’m hoping he is having a very active love life!


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • celia February 9, 2012, 8:10 am

    I have a friend who refers to all that sort of stuff as “Chinese landfill”. But I hope your owl does the job nonetheless!

  • lewie February 9, 2012, 3:07 pm

    that’s a great term “Chinese landfill” to go in the quarry they make in Australia.

  • Gustoso September 6, 2012, 11:54 am

    I kind of wish we didn’t have those $2 junk shops.

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