Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow….or outfoxing possums

We have no air-conditioning. In Summer we rely on our grape vine to drape over the pergola to keep out the morning sun. It’s been that way for many years.

Until the last couple of years when the possums discovered the tasty new shoots that emerge. So I joined the large group of gardeners suffering from The Attack of the Possums, working out ways to out-fox the critters. Mine seem to be the very cute little ringtails, rather than the big boofy brush tails. I am hoping that the small ringtails eat less!

Of course they are excellent climbers and the trunks of the vine, the fence and the supports for the pergola make excellent highways. They can hang and nibble on those tasty shoots. The top of the vine is perfect for them. Not so good for the vine.

By December this should be a canopy of leaves and tendrils.

Fortunately the vine is also persistent and sends shoots out from below. I am relying on them to create the shade.

My thoughts are that if the possums can’t get a secure purchase they won’t be able to nibble. So here’s the plan….to encourage these shoots to grow up to the top, away from the grasp of the pesky pests. That plan needs a few things.

Firstly, strings attached to the wires at the top and then tied to the shoot. Climbing a ladder and trying to throw the string wasn’t the best method. With some lateral thinking I realised the rake was the perfect solution. I could put the ball on one of the tines and direct it over the string, making sure the shoot is growing up away from anything that might give a secure footing. (Then dodging as the ball of string came tumbling down!)

This one is certainly reaching for the sky.

The second part of the strategy is to wrap the new shoots up at night as possums are nocturnal. Each night I go out and tenderly wrap the little ones up in an old bedsheet. Each morning I take it away so that they can photosynthesis their little hearts out.

So far my strategy is working. However I am sure you can see the flaw in it….what happens when the shoots reach the top. I have tried to put the strings into places on the wires that aren’t so easy to reach. As well I am hoping that these upright ones will provide some sun protection.

So far I am out-foxing those pesky possums, but who knows what the outcome will be!

The glory days of the vine!

P.S. You know how WordPress gives you a link to similar posts at the bottom of each post? Well, after I published this I saw one titled “Pesky Possums”. Not only have I told you about this problem before, but used almost the same language!! That made me smile!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

Pesky possums*

* Warning: alliteration ahead!

Pesky possums have been a part of life in Melbourne for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house next to a park, so we always had possums playing. They loved to chase each other around the roof, sounding like marauding hordes. Then there is the unholy scream they make, enough to chill your bones.

I well remember one time when we were woken by our dog, Galahad barking on the front verandah. We had long ago dropped the “Sir” from his name, as he did not live up to his gentle, ethereal namesake. So image our surprise to find that a baby possum had ousted Galahad from the door mat and was keeping this big dog at bay. I felt sorry for this wee, frightened creature and went to pick it up. My reward was a bite on my finger, and later a tetanus injection that hurt more than the bite! From memory the possum scampered off, and probably grew up to be one of the marauding hordes on the roof.

Then I moved to my own house and I would listen smugly to gardening shows where there were inevitably complaints about possums.

“The possums have eaten all my rosebuds. What can I do?”

“The possums eat the rind off the lemons and leave the fruit to rot. What can I do?”

“The possums…..” “The possums….”

I say smugly because I didn’t have pesky possums. My roses and lemon tree had many other problems, but not possum problems. However, the Gardening Gods do not like smug gardeners…….and you know where I am going with this……..

Yep, I have possums, pesky possums.

My pesky possums are not pilfering the roses or the lemons (and that is not smugness ~ just give them time!). No they are plundering the vine.  And this is a problem because it is one of our main forms of summer cooling.

You may remember me talking about the vine before. We have ceiling fans rather than air conditioning, and rely on the vine to cover and shade the eastern side of the house. It’s been a great system as the morning sun doesn’t get a chance to beat into the house. But now the possums have come to play, and they just love to nibble the new shoots of the vine down to little nubs.

The weather has been hot this November ~ 36º today. We seem to have gone straight from the cold of Winter to the heat of Summer, without Spring in between. We are missing the covering of the vine.

So, I am trying to out-fox the pesky possums. Surely with some human ingenuity and the rampant growth of the vine I can get the tendrils up the wires. My thoughts are that if I can overwhelm the possums with young shoots some of them will sneak past and take hold. Armed with a ball of string and a rake I have been tying and training, trying to keep the young shoots away from places where the possums can reach out to take a nibble.

This is the state of the vine:

If you look hard you can see the string amongst the tangle of tendrils.

At the moment I think it is nil all, but it’s only half-time! And a long hot Summer ahead of us. I will let you know the final score!

Other gardening news….

It is time for the jacarandas to flower. Again I have written about them before.

I have had a delightful volunteer in the front garden, in among the onions!

A red poppy was a delightful surprise, and I wonder where she came from.

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