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How not to get eaten by Rats, if you’re a Seedling

August 13, 2012 | Farming, Gardening, Market Garden | 10 comments | Author:

If you are a pak-choi seedling and you live at our farm, you face certain challenges in life. Even before you get planted in the garden and battle the delights of our climate, things are risky. Especially in early spring, when Mumma rats are hungry, and there is little lush greenery about.

As a luscious small green thing, coddled by time indoors and not dormant like everything else on the farm, our seedlings flap their axial leaves like beacons to hungry rodents, who, if they get a chance, will do what rodents do best: eat things.

The solution is a seedling rat-proof-house, re-purposed from steel shelving. It saves our spring seedlings from the jaws of rodents, and subsequently also prevents us swearing more than is proper.

Stephen and Michael made this very effective rat-proof seedling raising solution out of an old set of steel shelves last summer, after the farm’s swear-word count in response to nipped-off seedling tops was getting quite off the scale.

They used rodent-proof mesh and took care to join the sections as you can see above. The unit also has doors of course, which are kept shut with a bar across them. It worked! No more seedlings nipped! Huzzah!

This spring we’re using it again, covered with a tarp on all sides but north, as we start off early pak-choi, beetroot and gazillions of other greens in soil blocks and seedling trays. A simple solution to a big problem, made out of what we had to work with (plus the roden mesh).

Grow, little seedlings, grow!

>> More adventures of the Milkwood market garden here…

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  • SUE

    Good job!!! I re-built my vegie garden after Black Saturday…started off with four old sleepers in a square…then sourced some very cheap, arsenic-free, new ones at a dispersal sale (provided I buy a whole pallet load of 60) so we ended up with a huge ‘raised-bed’ monstrosity called The Vegetorium. I used the lasagna method to build up the soil in the beds with mulch and layers of flattened cardboard cartons from the supermarket – they’re more than happy to give them away. Our cows donated barrow loads of manure to enrich it all and the vegies really took off. The rabbits, birds, deer and kangaroos thought it was Heaven – I can well understand the swearing part as every morning I came inside sounding like a bullock-driver (or worse) as I recounted how much of our hard work was being eaten overnight, grr!!! Although there’s plenty of natural feed handy they soon get a taste of ‘the good stuff’ and will come right up near the house to get to it. So we ended up fencing the whole thing in with mesh (amazing what one finds at the ‘Transfer Depot (tip) and the effort has paid off with 99% of our vegies surviving the critters…although, believe it or not, a baby rabbit can squeeze through chicken mesh!!! The adult rabbits are still a major problem in this area and, seeing how much rabbit meat costs in the supermarket, I would be a millionaire overnight if I could just catch the varmints. The garden is being destroyed at a great rate but at least the vegies are safe. Now if I can just find a way to stop the parrots from eating holes in the bird netting we may be able to enjoy some of this year’s fruit crop. Makes one wonder how the early settlers defeated the wildlife long enough to survive.

  • Marshall Chrostowski

    Nice little design to exclude the rodents. How do you keep them from browsing through the newly transplanted beds of these baby greens?

    • milkwoodkirsten

      We don’t have a prob with rodents down in the garden (maybe cause there’s no significant cover for them), only up near the greenhouse, where there’s lots of things to hide under or behind. In a seedling house area, it only takes one rat to find it and they can eat everything, conveniently located in one tightly packed space… out in the garden it’s a different story… fingers crossed!

  • Little Sis

    I’m tempted to build houses like this for my tomato plants to keep the squirrels out. They get more of them than I do I think. Thanks for sharing.

  • bob tatnell

    I think the warmth of the greenhouse can be a factor… we lost a series of apricot seedlings and peanuts when roddy found a way in
    in the garden itself roddy seems to exist harmoniously with his surroundings and keeps himself safe by an intricate labrynth of tunnels
    roddy is a bush rat, brown with an exaggerated posterior !

  • narf77

    Great job and an inspiration to us to get our act together and protect our own tender babies from rats, possums, wallabies and Earl, our plant pruning American Staffy. We breed them tough here on Serendipity Farm and they have to be! The rats get eaten by the feral cats before they can eat our seedlings as do any baby possums and wallabies but our insects and fungal preditors are waiting in the wings to take up the fight…sometimes you have to wonder why we do this?!!!

  • Pingback: Breaking new ground in the market garden « Milkwood: permaculture farming and living()

  • Rachael Letham

    I’m eagerly awaiting the article titled “How to kill rats without using poison or cats”…

    • milkwoodkirsten

      Hmm. *apparently* you can buy carpet snake poo and sprinkle that about to keep them away? or a buy a carpet snake?

  • Pingback: Making cold frames from glass doors « Milkwood: permaculture farming and living()

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