Cucumbers will go to desperate lengths to flee an attack-flock of brush turkeys, eh?
So is it better to die fighting than live in chains? I’m not sure where my zucchini would stand on this one.
I’ve managed to keep the plants alive under an ancient perforated veggie net, held up by a rusty drum stand and contorted steel reinforcing wire. Shyla the Australorp sneaks through to lay the odd egg but so far the brush turkeys haven’t spotted an entry-point. Which is lucky, because if they made it in, there’s no way they would ever find their way out again. I’d arrive in the garden one morning to find a turkey skeleton splayed out underneath the enormous hole these leaves are bursting through.
The bees don’t seem to have found the great big holes in the netting either. Or perhaps the local pollinators suffer from claustrophobia. I’ve seen loads of male flowers but the little golden zucchinis just seem to wither on the vine. I’m trying to figure out if it’s (a) the plant aborting seedless, non-fertilised fruit (b) blossom end rot, thanks to insufficient calcium (c) rampant powdery mildew, caused by constrained circumstances (d) despair induced by a life Inside or (e) all of the above.
It hasn’t been a good year for jam making, either. Here’s the breba crop which was looking so lovely mid-winter. Not really worth setting aside a day in the kitchen for preserving this one. On the right, “dried figs”, but not as we know them. A few hot days saved me the cost of a dehydrator, but I’m not sure gastronomy is the winner here.
And a sad discovery this morning – the lone survivor of my bumper crop of coyly fleshy persimmon flowers ripened, unattended, and was demolished overnight, probably by a young possum taking a leisurely midnight stroll from his summer house above the air conditioner in the granny flat. Only a few days back I was thinking if might be time to wrap the precious persimmon in one of the net exclusion bags sitting neatly folded on the bench in the toolshed.
Zero tolerance, it seems, is the only solution. Imprisoning the chickens is mean, imprisoning the possums and the brush turkeys illegal. Whereas imprisoning vegetables, pollination issues aside, seems to work quite well.
Small scale vegetable prisons seem to do the business for seedlings and your slender or ground hugging plants, but now I have the frame of an aged trampoline at my disposal, I’m thinking big. And I’ve started looking at the superannuated chook tractor with a new eye.
Yes, it has traditionally been Andy Ninja’s lofty sleeping quarters, but with a bit of dusting off, what a fine brush turkey exclusion zone it would make. Perhaps, Andy, it’s time you reconsidered the virtues of Palm Beach, the vernacular modernist architectural masterpiece I painstakingly made you and your feathered friends a year ago, now sadly abandoned by every damn chicken in the flock. Even the brush turkeys don’t try to sleep there.
Now there’s an idea: if the new improved carceral complex with its walk-in prisons doesn’t protect my veggies from assaults by poultry, maybe I should start planting them in the chook house.