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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Gardening at night

Have you ever gardened at night? I mean really AT NIGHT, 3am in the morning? Well, that's what I did this morning. I woke up at 2am and for the life of me couldn't go back to sleep (it happens quite often, I believe it's an "old age" thing. I've always been an early-to-bed early-to-rise person, but it's never been this bad!)

I discovered it was warm and balmy outside when I took my cup of coffee out to the patio. We have quite a few garden lights which stay on at night, and as I sat drinking my coffee, I noticed that one of my Nasturtiums in a pot looked like it had been broken off, so when I finished my coffee, I went and had a look, finding that something had eaten the stalk off, probably some cut worms. I immediately emptied out the pot onto a piece of plastic sheeting I found in the garage and proceeded to search for the culprit.

And find him I did! Two of them! They immediately went into a jar that I kept for insects to feed to my chickens and this they were going to love!

I then had to put all the soil back, added a bit of compost and planted a few Nasturtium seeds I still had from last year, waiting to go into the garden this month.

I also noticed that the river pebbles flanking the pathway were full of soil, a mole had surfaced right in the middle of the pebbles! That's always such a nuisance, it means getting rid of the soil and re-packing all the pebbles again. Which is exactly what I did.

I have this mole, or probably a whole mole family, traveling around under my garden, surfacing and leaving their mounds in the most annoying places, like in the middle of my river pebble arrangements. I don't mind in the middle of the lawn, I just level the heaps over the grass, it's the most wonderful top soil that they deliver, ready to use as topping! And to top it all, it is the common Mole Rat (Cryptomys hottentotus), found throughout Africa, that I have here - They are herbivorous, mainly eating geophytes (plants with underground storage organs) and grass rhizomes, in other words, the roots of the plants in my garden!

Mole (Cryptomys hottentotus) Image credit

I don't use any poison or traps to get rid of them, usually I just put the hosepipe down their hole, hoping to make things so wet and unpleasant for them that they would move to the other side of the wall outside the garden. But they must have a maze of tunnels, sometimes the water can run the whole day without it getting full or surfacing anywhere else.

Mole Rat (Cryptomys hottentotus). I apologise for the image quality, but this fellow was hopping mad and wouldn't stand still for one second, looking for a way out of the bucket. I caught him to release him on the other side of the garden wall. 

The Golden Mole, native to Southern Africa (family Chrysochloridae) and one of the ten most endangered mammals in South Africa, which eats termites, insects, earthworms and snails, would be most welcome here!

After all that, it was 5am and time to go inside for another cup of coffee and to sit down and write this post. Hope you all have a perfect day!

 (Photos taken in my garden at 3 am - Camera : Canon EOS 500D. Setting: 'Night Portrait')



  1. Smile!!! Love all your stories Maree, even those born at 3 o'clock in the morning!

    1. Smiling with you Liz! What better way to spend late nights (or early mornings) than in the garden? Thanks for stopping by!


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