I’ve spent the day on my knees, clearing out the greenhouse. Mostly stuff (densely packed pots, fleeces, watering gadgets, feeds, labels and inventive covers accumulated over a number of years) that resides under the long bench. I’ve been finally forced to confront this cluttered, dumping-ground by the mouse of the post’s title. At least I hope it’s only one! It must go. I am tired of the heartbreak of seeing destroyed bulbs, cuttings, seedbeds and seedlings. I thought that the problem had gone away over the summer with the sliding doors being left open all the time and no obvious damage occurring. Maybe the mouse did indeed take a summer break, but with the colder nights it is definitely resident/back now.
The method of eviction is still to be decided. I had hoped it would just run out the door with all the disruption I was causing. No such luck. I know this, because I saw it jump out of the last cardboard box I was sorting, watched it shimmy passed a bunch of nearly unreadable min/max thermometers and disappear back under the bench somewhere. Yes, I know that I brought this on myself. I agree that I should be a tidier, better organised gardener. There’s theory and then there’s practice though!
Anyhow, I thought that I might as well do a mouse-orientated Six this week …
1) We start with the clues …
Pots of cuttings (salvia) and new seedlings (kale, fennel and pansies) have been turning up strangely empty or apparently clipped to soil level. While it’s been horrendously wet recently and there are definitely slugs and snails in the greenhouse, yesterday I found a pot of moss curled parsley half eaten and I began to suspect mice again:
2) A Sighting
I was working outside, near to the greenhouse when I registered the sound of tapping or scratching on glass. I thought it was coming from behind a stacked pile of module trays next to the water butt, but as I continued to investigate it became clear it was happening inside the greenhouse, at the corner. I spotted movement and when I went to the doorway I could just make out a tiny head and protruding ears behind the tomato collar. Amused, I went to get my camera and after a few attempts at spotting it again, it returned to the corner and I took the shot (camera remember):
3) Clearance and a nest
So, I started to try to determine where its retreat was and in the process ended up sorting hundreds of pots and covers. It was when I moved some bundled frost protection fleece that I discovered a pile of nibbled damson stones and shredded bedding (capillary matting I believe) inside a stack of biodegradable paper pulp pots (insulated – very clever!):
4) Snug within layers and leaves
I started to tip the nest into the bin, but then was fascinated by the tightly packed lining of birch leaves in the middle of the nest. All the soft stuff (fleece and matting) was used for the outer layers.
5) A gruesome remind of mortality and multiple generations
As I continued to tidy and sort through the accumulated gardening paraphernalia (home-made seed tray tampers, paper-pot making tools and a collection of bagged walnuts from a number of different species/cultivars – half of which had been eaten), I uncovered several other places where nests of soft padding and assorted debris had been constructed. Oh dear, that’s a worry! And at the bottom of a watering tray I found a tiny skull. Definitely not the first generation then …
I finished clearing under the bench and was just working down the pile of gloves and boxes to the side, when the mouse jumped out and escaped beneath the bottom shelf.
So, now I have to go a buy a humane trap or two. Wish me luck!
6) A happier note to finish
There’s a nice startling pink display of nerines in the greenhouse currently, but this is a photo of some outside in the border, against a much nicer background:
A mousey six today. Back to normal next time.
To see more pretty flowers and interesting gardening stuff head to Jonathon’s blog where he hosts the ever-growing Six on Saturday meme.
Have a good weekend!
Lovely nerines! And good luck with your mouse eradication. Every fall we face similar hurdles as all those who summered out in the fields come back for winter residence. The cat has been helping with the ones foolish enough to venture into our living space!
A traditional approach! Our dog, Sadie, is useless on that front, sadly!
Always a source of autumn angst as they like to make their winter quarters snug! Wishing you lots of luck with getting the greenhouse clear of them. Your nerines are beautiful.
Thank you! Some years we get mice in the garage too and it is incredible the damage and mess that they can cause. One year they ate through all the picnic kit, sun umbrellas and soft play toys to make cosy nests!
I enjoyed reading this very much, as I am presently dealing with a similar situation in the back storage room of my house. But my mouse population is much larger, and they are a different kind of mouse, I think. I haven’t taken any pictures of them yet (don’t want them to feel that I am fond enough of them to take family photos) and I am not leaning towards humane traps. Inside the house, even in a very back room, is not really acceptable to me.
Ahh, I can see your point! Inside the house feels quite different. I’m going to try these traps first and must remember to check daily!
From your photos it seems you have a vole not a mouse, mice have more pointed noses. I’m happy to have voles in my garden because it means I have a resident tawny owl, although I don’t think it would want to come hunting in the greenhouse! Good luck with the humane trap.
Yes, I had wondered if it might be a vole as I know they run around the garden eating crocuses etc. I am not good at ID though and last time I declared a vole, people told me it was a field mouse, lol.
There are many clues! You were a perfect detective: now it remains to make it go elsewhere…
Humane traps ordered … I was debating using crocus bulbs as bait 😉 !
Oh I hope you manage to sort him/her out- but you can at least be grateful that it gave you the push to tidy the greenhouse so thoroughly! And what a lovely pot of nerines – the most blooms I have had in a pot is three…
Thanks. When I walked into the greenhouse this morning, it felt like a different place! 😉
The main issue in my working greenhouse is an accumulation of empty compost bags!!
Lol, mine are in the garage!
I’ve always tolerated a mouse or two in the glasshouse but Mary took exception when they began eating her potted crocus.
Yes, that’s how it started a couple of years back. Last year I lost all my tulips. 😢
I hope you manage to rehome your mouse successfully.
Thanks! The traps to move it/them have been ordered.
Your remark about using crocus bulbs as bait made me laugh. They are cute little critters, but the year I found not a mouse house but a mouse subidivision in the woodpile was the year I learned to steel myself against their cute presence. Here’s hoping for a quick and painless capture!
That’s the worry about mice. It’s never mouse is it? I’m pretty certain this is a vole now. Not any further with catching it in the humane traps though. I may HAVE to resort to crocus bulbs rather than nuts 😉
DOUBLE GEEZ! They are definitely annoying critters once they get in…
Yeap! I’ve still not caught it. 🐭 🤷
I loved this post. I could pucture the events. Then the reveal. Lastly the ghastly skull…perfect for Halloween. I too am fascinated by nests. Good luck with the trap.
Thanks Flower! That tiny skull was gruesomely fascinating. Not doing well with the traps so far. Need to bait them with something more attractive than mixed nuts I think!
Good luck – but then you may have caught him/her by now! You’ve got a great picture. Your nerines are gorgeous and I think there is a fabric design hidden in that picture!
Sadly not 😞. Like the fabric idea, but not sure I could take the pink glow ensuing!
Excellent post! As someone else said, great plot/detective story. I have to say the vole and its nest are quite cute. But I understand why you wouldn’t want it in the greenhouse. Better than in the kitchen, though…
All the best 🙂
Thanks. Very sweet, yes, but making the greenhouse resource rather useless unfortunately. With the number of cats that prowl through the garden, I guess it is a wonderful sanctuary!
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