Hartley Magazine

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A Mouse in the Greenhouse? – Part 11

All greenhouse owners have experienced it at one time or another, munched on plants, missing leaves, and more.

There are more than just bugs in my greenhouse.

Over the years I’ve seen a whole menagerie of creatures setting up home in my greenhouse. For years I had a huge warty toad that helped despatch slugs and snails fro the nooks and crannies inside my greenhouse. Sadly he died this summer, but I’ve seen lots of tiny toads crawling about the garden and I’m hoping one or more may take over where he left off.
There’s a comfy chair in my greenhouse, the idea was to occasionally sit and read and escape the phone, but the reality was that one of my cats found it and claimed it as her own.

On very hot days in the summer I leave my greenhouse door open, there haven’t been too many very hot days for a while now, but back in June when we had what was probably the hottest day of the year I found a large snake basking in the sun just inside the door. It had distinctive markings and at first I thought it was an adder, we do get them where I live, but in fact it was a grass snake, perfectly harmless, but scary nevertheless. Hopefully it is still around munching on the many slugs and snails that still frequent my garden, but I’d rather not see it too often.

But more recently there’s been some other creatures munching on my vegetables and herbs. I’ve spotted the caterpillars on the beans and tomatoes and picked them off where possible. I’ve barricaded the greenhouse door to keep my hens out after they ate the seedlings I was growing for a photo shoot and I’ve collected up the slugs that I’ve found slithering around in damp corners and put them outside for the hens to investigate. But something is still lingering and eating my plants. The chopped off young courgette plants should have been a giveaway. And the holes chewed in a cotton hammock under the potting bench. There’s a mouse in the house and it’s set up home.

Wouldn’t you think the cat would put off the furry little fiend? Or that maybe the cat might get off her haunches and chase the little mouse around a bit, like a scene from Tom & Jerry? Fat chance of that it seems. And so in my quest to keep at least some of the greenhouse bounty for the family and to yet again avoid killing, maiming or poisoning anything, I set up a couple of live (humane) mouse traps. Baited with peanut butter and chocolate, I placed them within what is now pretty established cucumber undergrowth near where much of the damage seemed to be. The thing with live mouse traps is that you need to keep a close eye on them, as if you catch a mouse, there’s not much room and it can get very hot in there very quickly.

For days and days I checked the little traps for signs of brown, furry creatures, to no avail. Each morning the greenhouse pilgrimage included watering, picking ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and chillies and checking the mousetraps. Each evening it was the same. The mouse was obviously immune to the scents of chocolate (it was quality chocolate too) and peanut butter, but it was still feasting on my plants.

Then one morning I had to leave very early and was going to get in the car and just go. On a whim I poked my head into the greenhouse just to check all was well and lo and behold I saw that one of the traps had sprung and a fat little mouse had gorged itself on peanut butter and chocolate and now sat terrified in the little box that was now its prison. You are supposed to then take the mouse a few miles away to release it, but I was already running late, and it looked so pretty. So I rushed out into the woods and let the little creature run free, feeling really glad I hadn’t resorted to its death and destruction. I haven’t seen any sign of it since and so perhaps it’s safe to say that the mouse in the house is gone, for now anyway.