Hi All - I did some hugelkulture beds last summer and they have returned great strawberry plants except where the shrews/voles agte the plants and built a big colony in there. Any ideas other than a cat (my son is allergic) that can help me keep them out of my hugel beds? did I do something wrong? Help!
(This is a repost looking for help in lots of places!)
I have planted castor beans and am creating plenty of habitat for snakes. I don't know if the first will work and the plants are exceptionally poisonous and a lot of people have snake phobias. You are dealing with a problem I have not been able to solve -- yet.
I had mice initially but they seem to have gone away after the material settled. But mine aren't real hugelkultur, I'm using buried wood beds, which might not be so mouse-friendly. But there were definitely mice in there for awhile. I have snakes, but none I've seen large enough to actually eat mice, though they may keep mice away just by being snakes, even little ones. So I recommend making some snake habitat to go along with your mouse habitat. Snakes especially like rock piles.
hehehe wow. The rodentator! Yikes! Thank you all for the responses! I failed to mention that I'm in Alaska, so the snake thing is kind of out of the question. But, the idea of some kind of predator (other than a cat) is something to think about. I wonder if I could somehow encourage hawks or owls to hang around. hmmmm
Maybe you can get your hands on some "cat-by-products" (aka litterbox content) from a neighbour or friend. I've found that that's a real deterrant to mice, moles and other critters I don't want burrowing in my gardenplots. I open up a few tunnels, dump in the content and close it up again. I once actually saw I mouse moving her babies out of the holes and in to the woodlands. It's no-kill, no-poison. Just don't dump it on any foods you want to eat, but buried deep in the beds it will be composted eventually.
Ferretdroppings or dogdroppings might do the trick also.
Seems like chickens might be a good way to keep the population down. Build their run on the north side of your garden so it's not blocking the sun then let them in for a week or so in the spring and again in the fall. They'll help you till and give a little N boost.
"Instead of Pay It Forward I prefer Plant It Forward" ~Howard Story / "God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir
Hmmm well I've got mice-in-the-mulch. Air holes in straw seem inevitable sadly. However, I'm heartened by Tyler's post that they might push off as the material settles. With all this rain that should happen more quickly - I hope. That reminds me, I'm off to see if my pea seeds are up or if they got eaten.
Keep a cat outdoors . We have a farm cat - a Tabby that has many generations of farm mousing in her genes. In the warmer months she prefers the outside and spends days and nights catching moles and mice. You can build her a nice cat house lined with carpet for the colder months. Just a suggestion - nothing beats a cat.
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We have 4 cats! Admittedly one is probably too old to be a really good mouser. One is a brilliant rat-er, another does rabbits, and the third is quite good if the mice DARE to run across the floor in the house but the outside mice seem to have the life of Riley. I hear owls close by but I reckon the mice are too well hidden, or there's just so many. The buzzards are quite active in the fields by day. Guess I'll just need to plant extra this year to take account of the losses.
Personally I'd just fill in holes with some super liquidy mud poured in and then pile on more dirt over the whole pile. If you can get your hands on crushed oyster shells (feed & seed 8$) add that to the mud mix ..rodents hate to dig through them. I used to line my double dug beds with it back in Santa Cruz where gophers are the county bird., it worked great...also used it when planting trees, as it kept the gophers off the main root ball. You could also cover the top with the shells before you add another layer of dirt, for another layer of discouragement. I had skunk problems with my new piles this year because the dirt settled down into bed and exposed the bones (logs) of the pile and giving the critters a way in. So I will also be re-covering and fine tuning the beds I made this year before winter hits.
AKA Wilde Hilde
S.Oregon High Mountain Valley 8b
"Ensnar'd in flowers, I fall in the grass."-Marvell
On mice voles etc nesting in beds, hugel or otherwise: Consider salvaging some metal screen 1/2 in. grid squares or so, like hardware cloth to cover the soil - or just the strawberry part. Lay it out in winter when the foliage dies back to the ground. It's a good idea when you're just starting a new bed of small stem plants like strawberries. It also keeps kitty kats from leaving buried treasure in the bed. If you are keeping out cats but nothing as small as mice, chicken wire is cheap and handy. It can be a headache, but it's worth it for some special plants. Like strawberries!
Also, I have some typical 4x8 raised beds that I found a nifty cover for. Home Depot carries 4x8 panels of wire welded on a 6x6 grind that bends into a nice low arch to cover the bed. It's lightweight and easy to bend and lift off the bed when I want to get into the bed. But the best part is I can lay on top it a piece of remay/row cover, or a piece of bird cloth mesh stuff, or shade coth -whatever. They are called concrete reinforcing grids, which is what they are designed for - to be buried in wet concrete. They rust, but I don't mind too much - it makes them disappear. they cost about $4- $5 each. Well worth the price imo. They come in handy for all sorts of things. We keep about 8 around the yard for temporary barriers, pea vine supports etc. Highly recommended.