11 May 2012

We've been robbed!

For months and months now I've been nurturing the soy bean crop in the Country Garden.  It's been growing so slowly, and I've had to continually defend the space it's been taking up from my aunt who wasn't seeing much value in it and was dubious that it would ever produce anything of substance.  But I've been determined to see it through to me sitting with a glass of wine and a dish of freshly cooked edamame, one of my favourite snacks.  

Last week it was nearly ready, so I planned to harvest it this week.  And then, DISASTER!!  Something has got into it and attacked every single pod on the plant that is ripe. Instead of eating the whole pod, it has taken three nibbles into each one and eaten the three beans out of all of them!  I was watching the pods on the top of the plants, which have been ripening slowly, but the ones underneath were actually ripening a bit quicker, and were all taken.  All that is left is a big pile of empty pods hidden underneath the plants, and my total harvest has been one small handful.  I'm so sad...

But that's not all... I then went to the next bed and discovered that some nasty critter has burrowed into the bed from underneath and has eaten all of the beetroots that were of any decent size.  I think we've lost about 50% of the crop, of what were really delicious heritage variety beetroots grown lovingly from seed.  Argghhhhh!!!  From the size of the tunnels that I found and the teeth marks in the vegies we think it might be a mouse or rat.  The tunnel also had a few fronds from the tops of the carrots next to the beetroots, so I'm sure they were next in line.  
Has anyone else had similar unwelcome visitors to our two?  Do you know what they might be?  And how did you solve the problem?  I've never experienced it before, but are mice common garden pests?  If we get any more garden beds our plan is to attach some fine mesh in the bottom of them so that nothing can burrow from underneath.  I have also since read that sage is supposed to keep mice away, so we will plant some more of that around the garden.  And we've spread coffee grounds all around the plants.  I'm hoping that this will put the critter off the scent of the vegies and if they try to lick it off their paws they (hopefully!) won't like the taste and so go somewhere else.  Either that, or they'll become hooked and be lining up at the kitchen door begging for double espresso's every morning!!  At least then they might be distracted from robbing us again...


  1. Oh no! I had some beets look like that last year. Our neighbor has an open compost pile, that tends to attract rats :( I set traps in the bed, and did catch a few, but sadly I also caught a bird. I now have a trap box, to keep the traps covered, and anytime I go past my neighbor's compost pile with the tractor, as a 'favor to him' I turn it over, hoping to displace any rodents that might be dwelling there. As we don't poison though, keeping the rodents (rats, voles, and gophers) at bay, is a real challenge!

  2. Yes I suspect once they are established it would be pretty hard to dislodge them. I hadn't thought of the compost bin as a potential source, but as it happens, on Friday it was completely emptied and turned over, and there didn't seem to be any sign of rodents in there which is good news. I know a while ago there was a blue tongue lizard living in it (largish Australian lizard), but we didn't find it so I think it must have moved on. I guess if it is still in the area it would keep mice down.

  3. Heartbreaking! I hope all the barriers you have put in place will help keep those pesky pests away.

  4. I have had mice or rats nibble my radishes and broccoli before. From the amount of destruction my guess would be rats. I really feel for you. Out of interest when did you plant the edamame? I was thinking of giving it a try next summer.

    1. I'll have to go back through my notes and check on the edamame, but I think it would have been in December - the same time as we planted the first lot of beans. So that means they are basically a 6 month crop that take quite a lot of space and all for nothing... sorry, I'm still heartbroken! I don't think we'll plant them again, which is a real shame because as far as I can tell, there is no-one in Australia producing them commercially that you can buy in small quantities. The only ones I've ever been able to find are frozen Chinese ones in Asian stores.

  5. It definitely looks like the work of a rodent of some kind. Do you have a cat?

    We keep losing our cats to the owls, but both are good at keeping the rabbit and mouse populations in check.

  6. Definitely seems like a rat doesn't it? Blahhh! There are too many good native animals around here for a cat Kathryn, but I like your thinking about predators. Maybe I should try one of those plastic snakes, see if that helps. There is a local eagle couple that fly around sometimes, they might help, although the vegie patch is probably the perfect hiding place in such a situation!