Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Small Plague in the Garden

There used to be a nice Canadian show on the television about the delightful critters that live quietly in the garden. A slow and friendly voice helped us as we wandered around a giant Canadian garden looking under leaves and behind rocks. Pleasant-looking bees worked feverishly to please the cameraman as the plant-life went through its various routines: flowers, seeds and pods. Small rodents galloped aimlessly about in the undergrowth as some muted music accompanied the friendly talk. Oh! to live near a Canadian garden and to follow the dragon-flies.
Here in Mojácar, we use a Californian gardening book. It has most of our flowers and shrubs, but it is understandably light on the subject of the local fauna that flitter from bush to bush, or in the case of our latest guests, from root to root.
These are the shrews. They dig tunnels through the brick-hard dirt which features as the garden-bed in our establishment, tossing up occasional piles of earth and moving in a direct and uncompromising way towards the new hedgling I've put in (a small but one-day mighty hedge to remove the view currently offered to us by our neighbour). These shrews: topillos or musarañas, (nobody seems to know) have only been around since the Mojácar fire of three summers past. They feast on rootlets: fresh, juicy, crisp, tasty rootlets. I may not have a green finger, or is it a thumb, but even I know these fellows need to go.
To the shop on the beach, which offers me rat poison (now, that can't be right), and so on to the Ramblizo in Antas. Readers may know this store, which has everything for hunters, riders, pet-owners, prospective pet-owners, gardeners and I haven't even made it to the upstairs yet, where there are kitchen goods, televisions, fly-traps and screwdrivers. It's a sort of Farmers' Dream (with a little Something for the Housewife). Anyhow, they gave me a Jumbo-sized box of what turned out to be rat poison again. Stick a bit down the tunnel and stand back. Hmmn.
My father was known in Norfolk by his neighbours as The Eichmann of Moles. When a molehill appeared on the lawn (it was a fifty acre lawn and, as I remember, it needed a lot of mowing), my dad would stick a metal trap down the centre of the mound, with appalling results. But there were other equally grisly ways of dispatching a mole. It appears that moles are hemophiliacs and therefore, a bit of broken glass on the floor of their run will cause them to bleed to death. There are gases which can be pumped down their highways, and a horizontally placed British milk-bottle will allow them in, don't you see, but not out.
So this afternoon, I was watering and fending off the mosquitoes (I don't think they will be spraying for these pests, since the tourists aren't here and us: we've already voted). But then, I found my latest plant, filched only last week from a public seed-bed, was surrounded by a pile of earth. In went a small stub of rat-poison. Take that, you little swine. 

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