I’ve never understood (or admittedly bothered to research) how other gardeners manage to have their ducks live in harmony with the precious fruits and veg of their labour. When we first introduced our five eager quackers to our gardens, we were pleased with the efficiency with which they hoovered up slugs and bugs. Oh, how quickly these feelings changed. The sight of our steamrolled lettuces and carrots soon saw them evicted from the gardens, separated by a chicken wire covered wooden post fence.
A stone wall that parallels the fence is lined with wild blackberry and fuchsia bushes and their wee pond sits at the entrance. It’s a long, rectangular space near double the size of what’s pictured above. When not exploring the areas surrounding the house, the ducks relish the security and privacy of the tall, wild, grassy weeds that we let overgrow between the wall, the fence and the pond.
I always envisioned transforming this area into something more colourful with a look that’s still carefree without the current look of neglect. With this idea, I did some research and over the years have purchased packets and boxes of seeds to plant here. However, when faced with the task of preparing the soil, armed with the knowledge of how much heartier weeds are compared to wildflower seeds, I turn my back to it and instead toil on the tame side of the fence.
I don’t want to spend an enormous (meaning ‘any’) amount of time weeding this field; my gut feeling is that it would be a constant and futile effort. So each spring I do nothing but watch the grassy weeds regrow and put it off yet again.
My dear friend Sandra, aka Wild Daffodil, recently quoted Bill Mollison’s permaculture principle, “The problem is the solution” and this week I put this thought into practice. Perhaps it was more a challenge than a problem, but either way, it became the solution I was looking for.
Last year I successfully grew a half-dozen verbena plants and, to quote my ten-year-old son Adrien, “Who knew seeds so tiny could turn into things so big”. He was talking about tomato plants, not verbena, and I would have known their ultimate size had I read the package more carefully, but anyway, they grew to be three feet tall and unsuitable for the forever home I chose to plant them in as young seedlings. Teasel is another, grown from seed and now five feet tall and no longer fit for their placement in the garden. And there you have it– the problem plants became the wild field solution. Some of the plants are lining the fence in the photo above and this week I transplanted them into the duck field.
Lesson learned. I’ll gradually add more plants but will grow them separately first, then transplant to the field rather than spread seed. That way I’m optimistic they’ll live in synthesis with the existing grasses and create something that we and the ducks will all be content to live with.