Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mousey mayhem

Tragedy... up at the allotment first thing this morning, and a scene of devastation met my eyes. Along with the November-sown broad beans I put in the other week, I had also tried an early sowing of Meteor peas, raised just the same under glass and overwintered, then hardened off and planted out. They were doing just fine - but then the mousies got them.

They've been chewed right down to the ground, beyond all hope of recovery. It's just so heartbreaking when this kind of thing happens - you try your hardest, nurture things lovingly, only for them to meet a grisly end.

Well, there's nothing for it: I shall have to start again. And remember, in future, to apply proper protection against mice even when the peas have already germinated into young plants.

Last year I tried holly prunings, which seemed to work quite well, though then the slugs got a lot of the plants anyway: then there are other little tricks I've heard of, like plastic snakes left among the plants (wouldn't like to risk my baby peas with that one though).

I've tried conventional humane traps: the mice just laughed at them. I reckon they held open the gate with their feet while feasting on the peanut butter inside. I also tried unconventional "humane" traps - plastic long toms (very tall pots) sunk into the ground, some bait in the bottom so that the mice fall in and can't get out. These trapped mice, all right, but they had an alarming tendency to drown if it was raining (which it was, a lot, last year). Not very humane, then.

Last resort is the good old-fashioned mousetrap - I'm trying to avoid it, but it's beginning to seem like there's not much option...

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