Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Quietly optimistic

Copper tape repels slugs and snails by giving them a small electric shock. Place it on the soil around tender young plants, or fix it along the rim of plant pots, and slugs won’t cross it. Beer traps, broken eggshells, sawdust and salt work too, in fact if you have any sort of mollusc eating any tender young vegetable, those remedies will work, eventually.


It’s tempting to break into song.

     Ha ha ha,
     Hee hee hee,
     Slimy fat slugs
     You can’t fool me.

But wait. Caterpillars will happily ignore all of the aforementioned slug remedies and continue feeding. So will curl grubs.

Maybe I should give up growing vegetables and open a zoo? Close Encounters of the Insect Kind.

Kids have sharp eyesight. I could charge primary school children an entry fee and take them on a tour of the back garden. They’re short too, close enough to the ground to find every hiding place of every slug that’s ever squirmed its way through this protected wildlife sanctuary that occasionally passes for a garden, where bugs, molluscs and leaf eating insects proliferate.

What do you think is at the end of this silver trail? Who’s hiding under that shredded leaf? Want to see what curl grubs look like? 

Here’s the best bit. Every kid could take home a souvenir.

How many did you find Melissa? Three? Excellent. Pop them in this Tupperware.

It’s tempting.

Winter has a sting in its tail here in Sydney. The nights have dropped to single digits and I’ve wrapped the young grapefruit in an old tablecloth to keep it warm. Placing a mirror opposite the tree only worked for as long as it took for the sun to move. Astonishingly, that didn’t occur to me.

Close examination has revealed microscopic buds on the grapefruit, so if it survives my folly of planting it next to a wall that faces away from the sun, and if it grows tall enough to peek over the top of that wall, it may yet thrive.

This miniature lime should do well in the front garden

This miniature lime should do well in the front garden

The front garden is brighter now the hibiscus has been cut back so I’ve planted another blueberry, and the miniature lime tree Chris gave me has finally found a home. The tomato was probably an over enthusiastic mistake but the cabbage should do well.

I’m quietly optimistic, armed with a spray gun of molasses, warm water and washing up liquid to fend off caterpillars.

Just don’t be alarmed if you notice a spike in the price of copper.

4 comments on “Quietly optimistic

  1. rthepotter
    August 9, 2015

    Coincidentally someone just pointed out to me a story about one Bishop Boniface – from Google books extract of ‘The Bishop’s Palace’ by Maureen Catherine Miller:
    “Seeing all his vegetables going to ruin, he turned to the caterpillars and said, ‘I adjure you in the name of our Lord God Jesus Christ, depart from here and stop eating these vegetables.’In obedience to his voice all the caterpillars, down to the very last one, disappeared from the garden.”
    But perhaps you have to be very sanctified for your adjuration to work – none of the imprecations I have hurled at my local invertebrates have made any difference at all.


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 10, 2015

      Oh that’s the best yet, thank you for that wonderful suggestion! And thank you for sharing such delicious words like adjuration and imprecations. I shall adjure and imprecate at the earliest opportunity.


  2. candidkay
    August 11, 2015

    I have to ask why the eggshells work . . . now you have me guessing:).


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 13, 2015

      Slugs and snails don’t like crawling over broken eggshells, I think because the edges are too sharp 🙂


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This entry was posted on August 6, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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