Mesh and Remay trying to protect the cover crop from birds. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mesh and Remay trying to protect the cover crop from birds. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Looking at the garden as Alfred Hitchcock might

Alfred Hitchcock must have been a gardener.

By Mary Lowther

Alfred Hitchcock must have been a gardener. What else would inspire him to make a movie about evil, winged scavengers, hell-bent on attacking and devouring innocent gardeners and their precious seedlings? One can easily imagine him discovering that tiny winged marauders had torn holes in the mesh cover protecting his cover crop and wriggled through to eat every last seed, then rushing to his old manual typewriter to write his next screenplay.

That’s my theory. I came to this conclusion at my Rear Window, watching with Suspicion as The Birds wriggled under my Torn Curtain to Sabotage The Pleasure Garden to drive me Psycho. That, without the Shadow of Doubt, was not what drove me into a Frenzy of action. What finally drove me outdoors was our cat, Mrs. Premise, jumping onto the mesh cover in a hopeful attempt to pin down the avian interlopers long enough to tear through the mesh To Catch A Thief. By the time I got outside the guilty had all departed, leaving The Farmer’s Wife alone with the fragments and some Rope to repair The Family Plot.

Hitchcock died in 1980, which is a shame because were he alive today he might have directed Cats. Given the difficulty of herding cats though, directing a movie full of them might have made the great Alfred think they had hired The Wrong Man.

On the subject of horror stories, according to Science News, hunting felines kill a billion birds a year, and the International Union for Conservation claims that each domestic cat kills nine. I confess to some doubt as to the provenance of these figures, as Mrs. Premise seems unable to catch one even if it sneaks up on her and whispers “Tag, you’re it!” She’s much better at tearing apart stationary balls of wool.

But I digress. My experiment with covering a bed of freshly sown cover crop with gardening detritus didn’t work well enough to try it again. Perhaps there are not enough easy pickings elsewhere for the birds because they pecked through the detritus to eat most of the seeds. I decided to make more of an effort with the last two beds and, once they were cleared of vegetables and sown with cover crops of rye and fava beans, I stuck hoops over the beds and covered them with what I had on hand: Remay spun cloth cover and half-inch mesh. The Remay had holes in it so I clipped them shut with clothes pins. Next year I’ll bite the bullet and buy some new, wide (and preferably beak resistant) Remay from Integrity Sales in Central Saanich.

I battened the covers down with eight foot long lengths of rebar, but clearly the birds found gaps with Mrs. Premise’s hopefully unwitting assistance, because in the last two days I’ve seen three birds inside the mesh, enjoying the smorgasbord. They may look weak and tender, but don’t let that fool you; they can muscle through the most difficult, unlikely gap. It took me three trips into the pouring rain to fix the holes, so I felt guardedly optimistic this morning when I saw a flock of juncos and starlings hopping outside the mesh and alongside the bottom, vainly seeking access. So far.

I just hope Mrs. Premise loses interest in them. Perhaps if I sit down by the nice warm fire, with a lovely cup of tea and my knitting…

On the subject of cats and birds, I read a news story years ago about a town in England that banned outdoor cats, but the bird population dropped alarmingly anyway. Further study determined that the proliferation of predatory rodents (I think they meant rats) led to the eggs being eaten in their nests. Sometimes the internet brings me an overload of information, and turns me into The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone has been re-elected as chairman of the board at the CVRD. (File photo)
Aaron Stone re-elected as chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

Salmon Blaise, director for Mill Bay/Malahat, elected as new vice-chairman

North Cowichan strengthens some COVID-19 safety protocols, and introduces new ones, as the pandemic enters ts second phase. (File photo)
North Cowichan and CVRD implementing new COVID rules

Municipality reacting to new public health orders

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Most Read