How to Get Rid of Rodents Eating Your Root Crops

I was so excited to be harvesting my potatoes this year—until, however, I pulled the first large tuber out of the ground.

That potato, a gorgeous red Pontiac, must have weighed three pounds. Its height was impressive and I was already salivating, just imagining all the delicious food I could make with it.

I was absolutely thrilled – until I got all the bite marks on it. I had to throw it out which, as you probably know, is every gardener’s worst nightmare.

Rodents, including rats, mice and voles, can harm a vegetable or flower garden in all sorts of ways. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and get rid of them.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is eating my root crop? common garden pest

There are some common enemies of the vegetable garden. If you notice damage above ground, with primary targets such as leaves and stems, it is likely an insect pest. Common insect pests in the garden include aphids and leafhoppers.

These organisms target plant parts that grow above the ground.

Some insects are pests that can also go after roots and underground growth. These include root aphids, fungus gnat larvae, root weevils, root mealybugs, and root maggots.

However, if the damage is widespread and widespread, it is probably not insects that are eating your crops, but instead, mammals such as rodents.

Before you notice any damage to your plants, you may be informed of their presence. In fact, many people notice the nests or burrows before they see (or damage) the insects themselves.

Here are some signs of common rodent infestations that may occur in the garden.

rats

Mice, like other rodents, are nocturnal feeders. However, if you see them during the day, it’s a sign that there are a lot of them – and they are running out of food.

Before you can see the rats, you can hear or smell them. Their munching can be quite noisy and their droppings, which are about half an inch long, are quite smelly.

They dig burrows that are about two inches in diameter. These are usually found mostly in undisturbed areas. They can also cause smudge marks where they run along wooden, stone or metal edges.

Mice will chew on almost everything. They don’t usually target root crops, but they can – so be cautious. Large vegetables like sweet corn, pumpkin, squash and tomatoes are his favorite targets. They will eat plants even when they are in storage or actively growing.

These rodents can cause even more extensive damage to your garden, damaging building foundations and paths as they gnaw on.

mice and voles

Mice and voles are also common in gardens. If something is gnawing on your root crops, there’s a good chance that rats and voles are to blame.

These creatures will eat a variety of vegetables, including root vegetables such as carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes. Fruits are also common targets before they are fully ripe.

They will also eat freshly sown seeds and bulbs and corms. There are often holes behind the bark of woody plants.

Both rats and voles build systems of tunnels to live in. Voles form a network that is quite shallow, often making your garden soil look soft and uneven.

If these are mammals gnawing on your root crops, you’ll see tiny nibble marks. You may also see pieces of paper around the garden, as rats use it as nesting material and may collect it when they are passing by.

How to protect your plants from rodents

If you suspect that rodents are going after your root crops, you can take these steps to get rid of them.

1. Know Your Enemy

Before you can get rid of rodents in your garden, you need to know which specific pests are targeting your plants.

Usually, this is mice and holes in the back of your plants, but this is not always the case. Familiarize yourself with the different symptoms of rodent damage so that you know which pest you are dealing with.

2. Eliminate Hiding Places

One of the most important things to do when you’re dealing with rodents in the garden is eliminating any entry points.

Can you put up a fence around the garden that keeps most pests out? Rats only need half an inch of space to gain entry, while rats need about a quarter inch. Good fencing is important!

Another option is to remove potential nesting sites. Keep your garden tidy by removing old, rotten fruits and vegetables, disposing of garden clippings, and cutting back overgrown areas.

If you have a compost pile in the garden, make sure it is covered. All the lids of the dustbins should be closed and the food should not be left outside for a long time.

Lastly, if you feed birds, avoid scattering the feed on the ground. Use a bird feeder instead.

3. Timing is Everything

On any given day you may find it difficult to find the time to spend in your garden along with all the other chores in your home! However, whenever you can, make it your goal to regularly check on the condition of your garden.

Checking on the conditions will help you see if there is a problem that needs addressing – such as rodent damage. While you can’t know right away if rodents are chewing on your root crops, since you won’t be pulling the plants until they’re ready to harvest, you can get a general idea by looking for other issues. may be capable of, such as nesting sites.

4. Use Rodent Trap

For small populations of rodents, traps may be suitable. Install these near suspicious entry points and check them frequently so they are always empty.

5. Screen Them Out – Use Raised Beds

Creating raised beds is another technique you can try to keep rodents away from your root vegetables. This doesn’t always work perfectly, as they can still get into the beds, but the more you make them, the more effective they will be.

Some gardeners also use screens or earthen traps to repel rodents. A piece of netting laid under the soil can help deter rats and mice, although some determined rats will still chew through them. You can also place a plastic mesh tube around tender plants, although this method won’t really be feasible for root vegetables.

6. Use Castor Oil Repellent

There are many repellents that can keep rodents away from your plants as well. Some of the best include peppermint oil, ultrasonic devices, and castor oil. Castor oil is a safe, completely natural rodent repellent that can be sprayed anywhere in the garden where rodent damage is evident.

7. Build the Screech Owl Nest Box

Whenever possible, consider attracting predators to the garden. They will help control the rodent population for you in a natural, ecologically friendly way.

Of course, if you raise other livestock, such as chickens, you probably shouldn’t rely on this method. However, if you are only concerned about the garden, consider building some Screech Owl nesting boxes near your plot. This will attract animals that are more than happy for you to take the rodents off your hands!

8. Plant Strategically

There are certain plants that are bound to attract more rodents – like most fruits and vegetables.

However, if you are growing a vegetable garden, you are defeating the purpose by avoiding certain vegetables and fruits.

Instead, consider what you can do add In your garden instead of taking it away.

Rodents are not fond of certain plants and herbs such as marigold, garlic, rosemary, onion, lavender and daffodils. Consider growing these in your more desirable fruits and vegetables to keep rodents away.

Can you eat root vegetables that have been chewed?

Although it can be frustrating to see that all your hard work has gone to waste, dealing with rodents in the vegetable garden is ultimately something you might have to hope for.

In most cases, you can still eat vegetables that have bite marks. Just be sure to wash these thoroughly and cut away any bad spots – rodents can spread a variety of diseases to people through their saliva. It’s often not worth the risk.

Also, try not to keep these vegetables in long-term storage. If you usually store your carrots, parsnips, or potatoes in a root cellar, know that those with rodent damage probably won’t take hold.

While there’s not much you can do to save your chewed-up root crops, rest assured that next year, you can implement the tips you read in this article!

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