The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

And the culprit eating my pea shoots was…


Image by: John Good - NPS Photo

Image by: John Good - NPS Photo

I’ve been busy tackling the mystery of what was eating my pea shoots. These peas were planted in October under fleece. They germinated well and were at the stage where they needed to be supported by twigs. At first I suspected slugs. My open beer traps didn’t attract a single slug. Then Cath gave me the tip that traps need to be covered and I remembered that years ago my mum gave me the ultimate in slug traps. I found it in the greenhouse and set it up with a trill. But even the mighty Slug X beer fest didn’t attract a single  mollusc reveller.

Also there are a lot of tasty pak choi and lettuce seedlings under cloches and these haven’t been touched.

Meanwhile Jo from Little Ffarm Dairy suggested mice. I thought mice were only a danger at the seed sowing stage. Even though my patch of peas is just a few feet away from a mouse hotel – I’ve seen them playing when the Min Pins are indoors – the seeds didn’t appear to attract mice before they germinated.

I like mice but I love peas.

Feeling a bit of a pig, I set two traps in the giant cloche – perhaps mice like their five a day too? Yesterday morning the cheese had been gently eased off one trap.
“Ah ha!” I thought. “It’s just a matter of time until I catch my suspects.”
This morning I found a dead mouse in the other trap. So mice like eating pea shoots. I wonder if they ate the carrot seed?

I have set both traps again. Although the dead mouse was very plump it couldn’t have eaten so many shoots on its own. So I’m expecting more visitors who would welcome a little cheese with their pea shoots.

Image by: John Good – NPS Photo

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Jo

    Thank you so much for leaving this story – it warmed the cockles of my heart!

    I’m still catching mice and am planning to start some more peas in an old gutter in the greenhouse as most of my pea plants are quite bare.

  2. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    BTW another mouse story…

    A couple of weeks ago Moriarty the Merciless (one of our massive Maine Coon cats & Head of Pest Control on the Ffarm) came sauntering up with a tiny field mouse clutched between his mighty jaws. He dropped the shivering creature on the ground at my feet, apparently for inspection.

    The little mouse turned to him, sat on its haunches, & clasped its paws together in an aspect of prayer. Moriarty observed it through half-closed “I’m bored” eyes before casually taking a swipe & batting the poor little creature several feet from where it had been apparently pleading to him.

    Moz followed after it & the poor little thing again sat facing him on its haunches, again clasping paws skyward in a gesture of begging desperation.

    I could see that Moriarty wasn’t moved & was keen on continuing his heartless game before turning the exhausted, miniscule rodent into a furry canape.

    But in a moment of weakness I admit that I did, indeed, feel sorry for the suppliant – & I scooped Moriarty up into my arms & took him into the cottage for a slap-up fish supper as his reward for being such a clever pest preventer.

    As for the wee brown mouse? Well, he/she scuttled away safe amongst the brambles, nooks & crannies of an old drystone wall; hopefully never to meet his evil adversary again. Just so long as it leaves MY peas alone in gratitude….!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jo

    Love it – the mouse dies from overindulging in cake!

    Hello CPC

    Thanks for your tips. I must look out for one of those traps. Our wooden ones froze solid during the recent cold snap which was no good at all!

    Hi Izzabella

    I’ve just checked those out and they are very nifty! Thanks for dropping by.

  4. iszzabella

    I Think all gardeners should know of a brilliant and The BEST Slug control method on the market today …I and most gardeners suffer from slugs and snails in this damp weather and in fact now that the climate has changed all over the world we have the slug and snail problem all year round, I have tried beer traps, copper tape after 5 days has no affect as it builds up an anodised coating, also tried salt, egg shells, even throwing them in my neighbours garden ( just kidding ) etc,etc all these methods are not practical long lasting and are harmful to our wildlife. Go to this site they use both Organic or Normal Metaldehyde bug pellets and that the small amount of pellets needed will last up to 3 months.!!! as they don’t dissolve in the soil and are Child ,Pet i.e. Cat , Dog wildbird and other wildlife Safe Brilliant for pet owners , whilst protecting natures cycle It is also the most attractive. and can Easley be moved around the garden…The Best slug control method on the market today…..try it.

  5. Cambridge Pest Controller

    I’m afraid I’m with Jo@LFD on this one….sort of.

    It is a shame to kill them, as with all pests, in my opinion, they only become a pest by virtue of where we find them. If they kept themselves away from your juicy pea shoots I expect you would have been more than happy to leave them be!

    With regards to bait for traps anything thats sticky is great- they cant then whip it off leaving the trap none the wiser.

    I prefer the plastic traps with a small bait cup under the treadle plate (they have to work to get the bait then)

  6. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Hi Fiona – I feel a bit guilty now as I’m indirectly responsible for their deaths! However a pest is a pest – & they are destructive. The ‘humane’ traps just transfer the problem elsewhere – IF the mice survive. As you say, very often the terror of capture can literally frighten them to death; not nice. At least the only thing they know about the ‘snap trap’ is that they were tucking into a tasty snack before – crack, instantaneous, nothing.

    If you’d said it was a rat I’m sure very few would quibble over extermination – & after all a mouse is just a smaller less threatening model.

    Incidentally when I was a child a mouse made a home in the family airing cupboard – as it was chewing our undies it had to go! I remember Mum put a bit of her chocolate cake in a snap trap. It did the trick – but the trap didn’t spring, it seems the cake killed it! Fortunately it didn’t have the same effect on us…. 😉

    Glad you enjoyed my Blog photos BTW – as you say it looks lovely but sometimes it truly can be Hell in Paradise!

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Paul

    Thank you – I’ll try that! I like dark chocolate too ?

    Hi Barbara

    Peanut butter is now on the shopping list. Thanks.

    Hi Rosa

    Apple chutney – we’ve got plenty of that! Great idea.

    Hi Rae Mond

    I think that mice are intelligent creatures. I know what you mean about humane traps but think of the terror of being caught and moved – the traps are quick. Also I wouldn’t want to pass on a pest to someone else however cute they look. I’m happy if they stick to sharing the bird food but not my peas.

    Hi Mandy

    The Min Pins catch quite a lot of mice in the garden – they kill them very quickly so the mice have no chance. But the Min Pins don’t hunt much in the winter.

    Hello Paula

    When I had cats they’d torment the mice for hours so generally I caught the mice and put them back in the garden.

    Love your flayed mouse story! One of my cats would catch worms and put them under rugs to jump on them – I saved the worms too.

    Hi Sebbie

    That’s interesting – I had no idea that they like pea shoots. Now the berries are all gone there’s not a lot for them to eat.

    Hi Danny

    When I first moved to the country I hated trapping mice. There was a sweet little one that lived in the Rat Room for about a year until I saw the damage that was being done. I’m still not keen on killing them but if they are eating our food they have to go.

    Hi Mandy

    That’s worth trying. I’ll definitely give it a go.

    Hi Michael

    I’ve just popped over to your blog to see the great mouse photos and video! Brilliant.
    Hi Cathy

    Yes I agree with you. If the mice don’t eat our food they can stay!

    Hi Katyvic

    Yes our budget means that growing our own veg is a must – and they taste far better too. Perhaps I’ll try using a humane trap and then taking them to some woodland near by.

  8. Mice ate all my broad been ‘sproutlings’ last year in the greenhouse: I came down one morning to find neat lines of holes in the trays where the 1″ plants had been.

    I set a ‘live capture’ trap with chocolate cake in the far end. It worked a treat, and I relocated three mice to the far end of the village – near some stables, so I hope they found a nice new home. They never came back. But I’m afraid I would have set the snap-traps if the live-capture ones hadn’t worked. We really needed the veggies last year to help make the budget meet, and I just couldn’t afford to lose a crop like that more than once.

  9. I’m squeamish and always hope for humane responses to pests of all kinds, but I’d be setting traps if mice were eating my peas.

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