Monday, March 29, 2010

Mice management to avoid pepper tragedy

In nearly every grower's life will come a time of trial. A time when (s)he finishes transplanting the 2-week-old pepper seedlings into cells, places them proudly on the greenhouse benches, and returns the next morning to find virtually the entire crop gone.

The mouse droppings nearby readily explain the mystery of their disappearance. The leaves and even the seeds of peppers are among their favorite early spring treats. Typically, mice and other small varmints seek a warm place to winter over, and the potting shed attached to many greenhouses provides the sheltered labyrinth they seek, amidst the trays and boxes of partially-used supplies.

This tragedy is best avoided by utilizing traps, baits, or an active cat with access to these storage areas the fall before. An even better solution is to store these potting materials in a building separated from the greenhouse, or to delay their delivery until the time of use to discourage overwinter nesting.

The devastation is felt so keenly because, by the time the seedlings are eaten and new seed acquired, the unfortunate grower has lost a full month of growing time.

- Benjamin Wilcox


Jennifer said...

argh! your pain is felt by many... any suggestions for rats who have taken over one's compost pile?

Barb Mann said...

Dachshunds, Jennifer!

Patia said...

Hot pepper! For small scale home growers with pepper seedlings on your windowsills, sprinkling cayenne pepper on and around plants also seems to deter mice, at least for me. Can't help you with the rats in the compost, though!

Anonymous said...

I have heard fron a book that mice do not prefer peppermint. So, this year I am planting peppermint completely around my greenhouse.