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A turkey at the Fields of Mars school

Weeds and pests are the bane of a gardener’s life. It is fun to grow things but the excitement turns to disappointment when some pesky beast gets to your hard earned food before you do.

What beast did this?

Long time ZedHead and friend of EcoRadio, Beth Incognito recently posted before and after photos of her carefully prepared garden bed proudly planted out with a range of seedlings and then the tragic mess the next morning with the place looking like a team of pirates had dug up their buried treasure.

“Hive Mind”, she asked, “what beast did this?”

The (almost) unanimous response was bush turkeys, though some of us have also had sad experiences of other feathered descendants of dinosaurs, especially magpies and chickens digging out our gardens and the occasional furry mammal getting in on the act.

The philosophy of Your Life Your Planet is to work with nature, rather than dominating Her and we apply that approach as best we can in the Logan Palms Community Garden. So that means no poison, no shooting, bashing or skinning.

What to do?

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I recommended laying “Dog mesh” over the garden bed as I have done with my strawberries and mint, as you can see in the picture. I discovered that invention when Beth and I both had apartments at Riviera, and a bunch of residents started a community garden where Growing Forward now works.

“Dog mesh” is laid over the garden and the plants allowed to grow through it.

A bush turkey removed in one day, a garden bed that had taken us an entire weekend to build, and turned it into a nesting mound to attract and seduce his would be mate. Admiring his chivalry but unwilling to give him the full fruits of our labour, we reclaimed the bulk of his marvelous mound and replanted what we could, exposing a lovely pile of leaf litter for him to rebuild his love nest.

That was when we discovered the power of dog mesh to keep the bush turkey at bay.

The West End local who put us onto that, studies insects. She reminded us that most subtropical cities around the world are infested with cockroaches. “The only reason that Brisbane is not,” she says, “is thanks to Alectura Lathami, aka the Brush Turkey.” It’s just as well there is some reason to love them, despite their persistence and amusing way of running, because they are a generally unpopular bird with humans. They can be quite assertive, and have been known to attack domestic chickens. Unfortunately for them, they are very popular with dogs, mostly as dinner

It was magpies, not bush turkeys that were digging up my strawberries; they follow us around as we potter at Logan Palms, welcoming the grubs, worms and beetles that we shake loose. And then come back to dig deeper when we head inside for lunch. The dog wire keeps them firmly on the surface, we want them.

Dog wire stops them digging, but does not interfere with the growth of the plants at all and you can plant, weed and pull out finished plants without disturbing it. When you want to make major changes to a bed it is easy to lift off, although you might need to trim large plants or cut the wire to get around them.

This dog wire is hung a metre from the fence to separate the plants from the Colorbond.

Dog wire is also great for growing vines like tomatoes, wild spinach, cucumbers, grapes and passionfruit. It is easy to hang from a fence, or a wire strung between posts as you can see in one of the other pictures I have posted on the socials.

Next time we might get to some of the insect pests that plague us. In the meantime, keep up the good work gardeners. Remember this is the time to get the garden ready and plant your winter crops. Get into it, grow up, and I’ll see you next week.

Bye for now.

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