Rat Battle

On the surface, our garden looks healthy. We have lots growing. There are lots of flowers. Things get fertilized. We have good soil. We have good irrigation.

Good light, good soil, good seed. That’s a winning strategy in most gardens. You’d think we are doing quite well.

You’d be wrong.

This year we’ve lost the battle with the rodents. In the Spring and early summer we lost nearly all of the citrus, peaches, nectaplums, and pears. Twice our apple tree has blossomed and had produced fruit. Twice all of them have been cleaned off in a single night. I had a full crop of mandarins. I woke up on the morning I was going to harvest and all of them were gone. Hundreds. Gone to the rats.

Cucumbers, tomatoes… forget it. All lost. The only thing I’ve eaten from our garden this summer? Hot peppers and grapes. We got about half the grapes off the vines before the rats took the rest.

We’ve tried to protect our crops. We’ve eliminated places where the rats live. I am killing rodents… probably 10 just this week alone. It’s just so frustrating. And it’s hard to not feel defeated about it.

Bounty Versus Beast

Our first couple of years gardening in this yard we experienced such bounty. But the last couple of years have just been a battle. The reason we have a rodent problem is actually because of our success in the garden. They are here and multiplying because the eating is good! The flip side is it feels like I spend a ton of time working in a garden with almost nothing to show for it.

So what’s the solution? More rat traps, I guess. Or a cat. We could really use a new outdoor cat. (If you have one, holler!)

Pretty tough being a pacifist and a rat killer.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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