Week 12: Urban Farming
As it turns out, I needn't have worried about the snails that appeared in our urban farm early this spring. Nature has a way of taking care of itself, and I could have spared myself the effort of researching humane snail deterrent options.
There's a saying in psychology that gets trotted out to raise parental awareness about the likelihood of children being exposed to paedophiles. It goes something like this: 'Wherever you find prey in attractive quantities, you can be confident you'll also find predators.' The point is that predators flock to areas where they think they'll have access to prey. If you have children, take this saying to heart. Paedophiles gravitate to circumstances that provide ready access to children and it's your best interests to manage risk as if they're there.
The philosophy is drawn from nature and we've just had a classic example of how it plays out in our own backyard microcosm. Over the winter months we noticed a pair of Magpie Larks building a nest in the tree on the verge adjoining our vegetable garden. Magpie Larks build nests out of mud and they need ready access to water in order to build their little homes. They decided, apparently, that our backyard swimming pool, was an ideal water supply. We keep the pool covered all winter and that gave them an ideal platform to wade around on, collecting all the nice, wet sticks and leaves that had fallen onto the surface of the cover.
By early spring, they had a lovely little nest ready to go, and by the middle of spring we were admiring their three squawking offspring. Concerned about the possibility that they'd drink the salty water from the pool, we moved a bird bath into the middle of our vegetable patch, and we were gratified so see the beautiful little family drinking and bathing in their new ensuite spa.
This story had an unexpected ending, given the fact that we knew nothing about what Magpie Larks actually eat. You can probably guess the answer to that by now... they eat all manner of grubs that wreak havoc in vegetable gardens. Our snail problem, it seems, is now a thing of the past.
On a more mundane note, I'm pleased to report that we're harvesting mountains of produce from our urban farm already. We won't be buying salad ingredients for months and we're inundated with delicious berries. Sugar snap peas are on the menu on a daily basis and I picked my first giant zucchini yesterday. The tomatoes are flowering, we've had an explosion of passion fruit flowers, and we'll have cucumbers before you can say 'high tea at Buckingham Palace'. Crack out the fine china, cucumber sandwiches are on their way.