A backyard vegetable garden is a true labor of love. It’s your opportunity to get your hands dirty and create delicious, homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more. But when rodents arrive on the scene, all your hard work could easily go to waste.
Mice and rats love vegetable gardens for a variety of reasons. Not only are they reliable sources of tasty food and much-needed water; many also provide a great place to call home. This is especially true in urban environments, where small patches of any vegetable garden act as a welcomed oasis in the rest of the concrete jungle.
Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the country, battling rodents in your vegetable garden can be frustrating indeed. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to safeguard your veggies and keep mice and rats at bay.
1. Secure Your Compost and Birdseed
These are two of the most common attractors in backyard vegetable gardens. If you practice composting, it’s important to contain the material in a hearty metal or plastic compost bin. Open-air compost pits are irresistible to rodents. While you’re at it, be sure to put away any birdseed you might be tempted to leave out. Mice and rats will gnaw through a bag or, in some cases, a plastic container, in no time.
2. Eliminate Hiding and Nesting Areas
Take a quick inventory of any spots near your garden that might be attractive for rodents. This includes tall grass, wood piles, low bushes, gaps under your deck, or openings in your home’s crawl space. Rats will be drawn to any area that seems warm, safe, and cozy, because it offers a place to hide from danger and potentially, to build a nest. That, combined with a vegetable garden, is like rolling out a red carpet for mice and rats.
3. Pick Vegetables Early
Another easy solution is to pick your veggies as soon as possible. This will limit the opportunities for the garden itself to attract rodents.
In addition, it’s important to watch for any vegetables that have fallen off the vine. If fallen tomatoes or other veggies are left long enough to rot, mice and rats won’t be able to resist.
4. Seal Off Entry Points
As best as you can, create a barrier that will keep rodents out. Unfortunately, mice and rats can squeeze through surprisingly small holes. (Some young mice can fit through a hole the size of a No. 2 pencil!) That’s why typical garden fencing and even chicken wire won’t keep rodents at bay.
Some gardeners find success by reinforcing their fencing with garden netting. Just be sure to watch for evidence of rodents trying to burrow under your fence, which is an indication you’re dealing with Norway rats, who are great diggers. If that’s the case, you can seal off burrows with steel wool or copper mesh wire.
5. Use Self-Resetting Traps
If you’ve tried all of the steps above and you’re still having rodent problems in your garden, it’s time to consider options for eradicating them. However, it’s important to think through which approach will work best in a garden. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting time and money—without making any progress toward getting rid of the rodents.
Traditional snap and glue traps aren’t very effective in a garden environment. The traps’ bait would be in direct competition with your vegetables, so it’s unlikely a rodent would even bother with it. Plus, unless your garden is a tiny plot, you’ll have to use several traps, which can require daily resetting and rebaiting. Meanwhile, poison traps can be dangerous to humans when used in a garden.
Instead, opt for self-resetting traps, like the A24 Rat and Mouse Trap, which kills rodents instantly with a CO2-powered shot. The trap automatically resets itself after each kill, which means you can eradicate more rodents with less effort. The lures, which were specially formulated by bio-attractant specialists, will effectively attract rodents, even in the midst of your tasty vegetables. Gardeners also appreciate that the A24 and its lure are completely toxin-free, so they’re safe to use around your plants.
Ready to better protect your much-loved vegetable garden?