I have this notion of gardening with the garden rather than against it. I am deluding myself. Yesterday, having pruned my dogwoods, I tidied the bed and sowed a load of ‘green manure’ – mostly red clover and some blue flower beginning with p (the seed packet’s in the shed and I’m feeling lazy). The idea is that this will provide protection from the sun in the summer, then I can dig it in in the autumn. Raking a layer of brown manure over the seeds, I realised that the foxes would think this was a great place to dig for worms, and the cats from next door would find it an ideal toilet. All my little seeds and seedlings would get dug up and I’d be left with a mess. So I’ve ringed the bed with chicken wire, just until the seedlings establish themselves.
I have done the same thing to another bed, after the foxes dug up all my strawberry plants and raspberry cane roots. I have covered my potato patch with wire mesh for the same reason and I’m planning to lay chicken wire over another bed, very popular with the cats, once I’ve sown it with flowers – for the same reason.
I went about my gardening yesterday chuntering to myself that I spend half my time and more of my money in my garden defending it against marauding animals. Then I thought, perhaps I’m taking the wrong approach. Perhaps I need to plan what I plant with the animals in mind. The foxes have to eat, and the cats have to poo (although it would be polite of them to poo in their own garden). The squirrels have to eat and hide their stashes. The birds have to eat and nest. I guess even the slugs and snails have to live, although that’s a tough one to admit. It’s not my garden. There must be a way for us all to live together, and I need to figure that out on the small, hobbyist scale of the garden if I want to hope in us achieving that harmony on the large scale.