Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Slugs and snails and little rat's tails - that's what Sydney gardens are made of

Critters!  I've had a particularly bad few weeks dealing with unwanted pests around the house and garden.  I figure that is part and parcel of living in the inner west of Sydney.  But I don't have to like it - and I really don't.  (Warning - some pictures of slimy creatures - but no furry ones)

When we first moved in the place was a teeming palace for cockroaches.  Not the big flying nasty ones (I don't know the technical names) but the little tiny German cockroaches.  Every time we opened the front door they would seem to be all over the walls.  When we painted we inadvertently discovered an excellent pest removal idea when the masking tape we put up ended up covered in bugs!

Cockroaches were dealt with by a pest control visit, and for almost a year we have been doing well.  But this summer has been a good one for spiders, as they are everywhere.  Including large huntsmen running in under our security door on a number of occasions.  I don't have any pictures, as I am usually too busy screaming and jumping on the lounge while my husband gets the fly spray.  I understand that is irrational, and that they won't hurt me, but the furry little blighters freak me out - and they move so fast!!

Last week I came home late one evening, and realised I needed to water my garden, as it was a bit parched.  So with the torch on my smart phone I stood outside and watered away, until I noticed what I thought was a normal slug on one of the pots.  As I tried to decide if I could just flick it off with a stick I realised it was bigger than I thought - and it kept getting bigger.  In the end it was about 15cm long!  On further investigation (later, after the salt was liberally employed) I found it was a leopard slug, common in Sydney and usually 10-20cm long.  No wonder so many of my seedlings haven't made it lately - it's not just my lack of a green thumb.

Initially I thought this was two slugs having some kind of hanky panky

That is one big slug

Then Saturday morning I had a lovely trip to the Orange Grove Markets, buying up big on seedlings to plant out.  I came home to get straight into it.  First I was transplanting all the self sown tomato and capsicum plants which sprang up when I moved my compost heap. When I opened the compost to throw in the weeds - a rat scurried away!  Suffice to say I was not impressed.  The neighbours may have been concerned by the shrieking.  I had heard of rats getting into compost before, but I thought because I was very careful not to put in paper or anything other than plant matter that the rats would steer clear.  I also thought the neighbourhood cats skulking around, and trampling my garden beds, should keep them away.  I was obviously wrong.

And then finally, when I got my courage back and tried to keep transplanting and planting out my seedlings - another spider (which was later pointed out to me only has 6 legs?) tried to spoil my party.

Some kind of jumpy spider that didn't like my repotting efforts

So any good tips for how to keep these pesky critters out of my garden (and out of my house) would be gladly accepted.  I am certainly not averse to chemical control, and I do also have the devices that you plug into the powerpoints and which apparently emit a frequency which mice and rats avoid, so I am hoping that keeps them out of the house.  Anything else?!!

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