I went out to the veg patch the other morning and ambled over to the strawberry patch with my bowl only to find that ALL my strawberries had been eaten. They were netted, so I knew it wasn’t the birds. I assumed rats, but the next day, I caught the thief in the act – a squirrel!! I’ve never known squirrels to steal from my veg patch before, but it’s not the only rodent I’m dealing with this season.
Pictured above is evidence I found of more rodent activity – a chewed up golden beetroot (which are my favourite, I don’t know why they couldn’t have gone for the normal purple beets!) lying in a raised bed on a ridged mound of compost that had been created overnight. It looks like someone has been tunnelling in amongst the raised beds just below the surface. Some of the chard was completely uprooted too. At first I thought moles, but now I suspect voles. They tend to tunnel quite close to the surface of soil, and are quite partial to root veggies. Moles prefer worms.
Finally, there seem to be a lot of rats around. They kind of go hand in hand with having hens, but I do find them very annoying in the veg patch especially when they make themselves at home in the compost pile. Luckily I have a very keen terrier who is more than happy to help me track them down and quite quick at dispersing them. However, this is not ideal when it involves digging furiously in a raised bed full of newly planted veggies!
This is definitely the most rodent-based activity I’ve experienced in my veg growing years, and I put it down to the wet, mild winter that we had. This would have both extended the breeding season and made food more readily available. For my plot, there’s not a huge amount I can do about rats, mice and voles – I’m right in the middle of the countryside and they are here to stay. Also, I think it is only fair that we let these guys live their lives too. But that’s not to say I don’t quietly hope that the owls eat the voles. And the squirrels can frankly get stuffed if they think they’re having any more of my strawberries – I’m covering the strawberry plants with insect-proof mesh and I’m going to secure them really well at the sides, so that the squirrels can’t get in. Hopefully.