We have long been told there are no parasites that attack vanilla, and this certainly appears to be the case. The biggest problem being root rot, which we quickly worked out how to avoid.
Nevertheless, I worried. It just isn’t reasonable for there to be so much untouched food. I am unworried by plastic pollution, because I know that creatures that eat plastic will evolve in short order, and indeed that is happening. I believe there are a dozen organisms already eating plastic. But I digress.
I found a slug eating the vanilla, the shoots!
When I mentioned this to Dadap, he said yes, he had also found a nocturnal caterpillar.
I said, right, we must collect lots of keeled slug eating snakes and release them in the gardens. Dadap looked alarmed – Indonesians don’t like snakes. No, no, he said, we have found a cure. When we spray with onion water, they don’t like it and keep away.
We spray the vanilla with alternative treatments each week. Odd weeks get a spray of water with cow manure in it, very dilute and matured for a week. Sufficient here in the tropics. Even weeks get water in which is dissolved sugar and full of chopped red onions. Again, matured for a week. Or longer.
These organic treatments cause the vanilla to thrive, and the slugs and caterpillars don’t like the onions.
I still want the snakes, one of my favourite. They are nocturnal, and have an amazing way of removing a snail from its shell, biting into the snail then the lower jaw working like a ratchet, easing the snail out.
A Keeled Slug-Eating Snake
If you want to see this snake in action, here a link to a video:
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