Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Rodents should know I’m on their side. I’ve been living with a brain full of them for years. Indeed, after so long in their company I am part rodent. So do they have to declare war on our new plantings?

Until we ripped out the lawn and put in less thirsty plants – a plan that surely satisfied the Mouse Nation’s environmental concerns – the rodents and I got along fine. I didn’t bother them–indeed, I kept many of them very well fed, with the vegetable scraps on the compost heap. And they had the grace to stay out of sight.

But in recent weeks the balance of nature has tipped. Someone, probably a rabbit, has been chewing certain plants down to the nub. And voles have built criss-crossing freeways just below the surface of our beds, sometimes charging straight through the roots of new plants with unfortunate results.

Someone suggested pepper spray, but all that did (apparently) was to improve the rabbits’ dinner, raising our Jacob's Ladder from fast-food to two stars in the bunny Michelin guide.  Chomp chomp.

So on Christmas Eve, with death in my heart, I cruised the local garden stores for poison.

Maybe it was the season that softened my heart. Maybe it was because none of the stores had appropriate poison. I decided to try a kinder, gentler approach, one that would simply urge the rodent population to go elsewhere, no questions asked. This involved a double-barreled strategy. You put crystals of fox urine around the tastier plants, implying they have a hidden bodyguard ready to pounce. And you sprinkle castor oil granules over all the rest.

I couldn’t help imagining the conversations. Rabbits maybe daring each other to dash in and have a bite. Voles looking at each other suspiciously, as evil smells waft through their burrow. (“Hector, did you do that?”) Maybe moving to another part of their vast condo, then another– pursued by evil odors–before deciding to pack up and leave.

Do they know that a neighbor two doors down is planning to devote her whole yard to vegetables? Maybe I should put up a sign. . . 

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