Monday, April 17, 2006
$%%@#@^&**^ Mice Redux
We recently have been getting a lot of mouse or chipmunk damage to our pepper seedlings. Some critter gets on the light tables and eats the heads off of the baby plants. This is real nice to find first thing in the morning after you have spent half a day, the day before, making soil blocks and moving germinating seeds to bigger blocks. So we have been doing many superfluous things to stop the critter and few have worked.
One night we put cardboard guards around all the legs and cords thinking this might stop the critters from climbing onto the stands. No dice, they breached our system easily and beheaded more seedlings. We have traps and about once a week one gets a mouse and on Friday put out more traps in the grow room. Took down the plastic sheet that was dividing the room in half making it easier to heat the area where the seeds are germinating. And than we moved all the stands away from the walls (thinking mice can climb rough brick walls easily) on Saturday with the help of an old friend, Scott, who showed up to volunteer his time on our farm (he helped put in 2 peach trees and start the trellis for the grape arbor as well). We also moved a lot of the seedlings out to cold frames since no critters are eating the seedlings in the cold frames. But because a cold front came through last (Sunday) night it is now too cold to keep things like peppers and eggplant in the cold frames so back to the warm grow room they went. It's a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. Leave the peppers outside and they will get cold damage. Take them inside and they may get killed (but at least if they do not get beheaded they will produce later in the summer, the cold damage seedlings will not, been there, done that)
Yesterday evening Navin the senior cat had killed a mouse outside the grow room door.
Maybe, just maybe, all these things together will stop the pepper seedling carnage. There was no damage Sunday to what was left of the seedlings so perhaps we have made it too difficult for the mice to get at the seedlings (we also have removed all germinating melon seeds from the barn altogether as these seem to be prized fare for the critters and a huge attractant). I have not checked things out this morning. But I am hoping that I will not go in once again to see all my work destroyed.
Today the plan is to replant the peppers and if these get killed than I will have to either buy pepper seedlings (very expensive), plant again and hope it is not too late in the year to get a crop (it takes about 8 to 10 weeks to get peppers ready for transplanting than it is another 80 to 110 to get ripe peppers and if these things get planted past mid June there is not enough time left in our growing season for this to happen) or just give up altogether and have no peppers at all (not acceptable, we make decent money off of this crop plus I use a lot of peppers in my cooking).
I hope, at this point, the critters have found the room not as hospitable and better things growing outside now and will leave the seedlings alone.