It's vege garden time again and since I have been out of gardening action for a bit, my first mission was to find out if I still had a vege garden, or if the festering jungle of what looked like thorny and carnivorous plants had devoured it.
There wasn't a lot to be found as I hacked my way through the trunks of the trees and vines. I could hear unseen critters crashing through the undergrowth and the occasional shrill call of something hunting or being hunted … but mostly I just came across evidence of a long-lost attempt at civilisation: battered and grubby plant tags reading "peas", "lettuce" and "cabbages".
There was the occasional rusted trowel or faded gardening glove, but the only vege I unearthed was a gnarly old silverbeet plant.
I did find a lot of snails, some of which snatched up by a 5-year-old grandkid and put in containers to be loved forever … or at least until he went home and I tipped them out into the chookhouse.
Some of the snails I simply flung onto the lawn so the birds could get them. I put a bit of a spin on them as I threw them, so they would be dizzy and couldn't find their way back garden-wards.
Having made a clearing in the jungle I planted lettuces and put a few smooth rocks around them for the birds, as they like to use them to smash the snails out of their shells. I was feeling very benevolent about birds at that stage.
The next day when I went to admire my lettuces I found the birds had rejected my snails and dug out my lettuces in the hunt for worms.
I replanted the lettuces and decided to add birds to my list of pest species. I purchased bird netting and very carefully covered my lettuce patch, using the ungrateful birds' rocks to hold down the edges.
I sprinkled cat biscuits around to encourage my cat to spend some time out there deterring the birds.
The next day the cat was indeed in the garden. It was peering at me from underneath the bird netting. It was sitting on my lettuces.
While I appreciated the cat deterring the birds I did not like it doing so from under the netting, nor did I appreciate the hole she had made in to gain entry.
I fixed the hole, added cats to my list of pest species and put the garden sprinkler at the ready should I see her in there again.
After a day or so there was no sign of snail, bird or cat damage so I ventured to plant some carrots and peas.
The grandboys found me.
They were disappointed to find no snails left, but very keen on helping me in the garden.
I gave them a trowel each and a patch of dirt. They demanded seeds to plant so I gave them carrots, peas, beans and instructions.
They ignored the instructions and dug two deep holes, chucked all the seeds in the bottom and covered them up. Then they smoothed down the soil by jumping up and down on it. Then they watered it with many many buckets of water and stomped a bit more.
They were going the right way to get on the pest species list. I put a sign on their patch saying "Boys' Garden" and told them the rest was "not the boys' garden".
I have since planted spuds and cucumbers and peas and beans and strawberries. My peas have come up but not my carrots.
On Wednesday as I arrived home from work, anticipating wandering into the garden and munching on a ripe strawberry or two, I saw something bad in my garage.
It was a round orange-and-white bottom and it was attached to Philip the miniature horse. The front end of Philip was inside a bag of horse feed and I could hear munching.
"Not again," I groaned and went to drag him back to his paddock. Then I realised … hang on I have one small horse in my garage. But I own three small horses. Where were the other two?
Stands to reason they were in my vege garden. With an entire lawn and all hubby's carefully nurtured trees to eat they had to be in my garden.
There were hoofprints in my lettuce bed, there were bites out of my pea plants, there were three fresh pony turds in my spud patch and there were two replete and unrepentant ponies lounging in the cucumbers.
They have gone to the top of the list of pest species.
The lettuce will recover but the peas are stuffed. That's okay though the peas in the boys' garden look great.
And while my pampered carrot patch has produced exactly zero, the seeds the boys buried, pulverized and flooded have come up lovely. Where's that list …