Week 8: Urban Farming
The hot weather has arrived in Canberra and, barring an unseasonal exception, the risk of frost has now passed. Our garden is full of blooms and we're beginning to reap the rewards of earlier labour in our food garden.
Our sugar snap peas are covered in flowers - a harbinger of tasty pods to follow - and we've got plenty of loose leaf lettuce ready to harvest. I picked our first crop of strawberries early this morning and we'll be enjoying them for dessert tonight in strawberry pancakes drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with vanilla soy ice cream.
Hannah and I picked a large tub of mulberries yesterday - our first of the season - and I made a vegan lemon, coconut and mulberry slice with them. We've been guilty, in previous years, of not making full use of our mulberry crop and I'm determined to be a better steward of our resources this year. The slice is delicious, so that's an encouraging start.
My research on humane ways to deal with snails has yielded some good ideas. I can surround my young seedlings with materials that snails dislike sliding across - things like grit, thistle leaves (or other spiky leaves) or straw. The straw is an obvious solution for us because I make our mulch with a combination of horse manure and straw and I was planning to put this on the garden in a couple of weeks anyway. It looks like I need to get cracking with that.
If this is not an option for you, you can also create a barrier around your seedlings using mesh or netting. The barrier doesn't need to be high and if it bends outwards at about a 45 degree angle, the snails will have trouble climbing over it.
There's a product called Escar-go Snail Spray, made from copper silicate, that snails are reluctant to cross. This is ideal for protecting planter boxes and pots.
Finally, Copper Slug and Snail Tape is an option. You stick the copper adhesive tape along the edges of your garden beds and snails get a small electric shock from the copper. This would be a last resort option for me but it's worth knowing about.
Love-in-a-mist (nigella) is one of my favourite garden flowers and I let it go to seed each year, throwing the seed liberally once the pods have dried out. I've got lots of beautiful blooms opening at the moment and I've used it for my posy this week.