A rat in the hugel bed

Two years ago around Christmastime, a rat decided to dig a tunnel into the compost bin. I therefore moved the bin and the rat disappeared. This year, there were again the telltale signs of a rat digging into the bin, so I’ve moved it and hope I can now forget about the bin for a few months. (Moving the bin also means that the rhubarb, which been underneath, now won’t be at risk of being forced. It has, on the other hand, been fed with a thick layer of compost.)

However, there has also been rat activity in the latest hugel bed. It seems that the bokashi solids have been discovered, as I not only found a couple of holes in the bed but a stray banana skin, which had been pulled out from under the soil.

I covered the holes pictured above with bricks, aiming to see if a new hole would appear, which by next morning it had. There was no doubt then that I needed to try to dissuade the rat from using the contents of the bed for meals.

So, I stuffed the holes with straw and covered the bed with cardboard – good to have reduced the stock of that behind the piano. Then I emptied the finishing-off compost bin onto the cardboard.

At the moment, I’ve only covered half the cardboard with a thick layer of compost. The idea is that this might smoother the smell where the rat has been getting in better than a thinner layer over the whole area. I imagine this will do little to prevent further activity but you just never know, do you?

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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13 Responses to A rat in the hugel bed

  1. Linda Penney says:

    thank you for sharing Helen got bad back so not been able to garden so been catching up with things indoors

  2. gaiainaction says:

    It is probably a cold winter in the UK this year and they are looking in your garden for food I guess. I hope you solve the problem Helen though like someone said, we are never more than a few meters away from rats even in this day and age…or especially so!

  3. Clare Pooley says:

    We were always getting rats in the compost bin despite trying not to keep it too dry. The only way we have found to keep the rats away is to never bury any vegetable waste, we have given up feeding the birds for the time being and my husband has put the plastic compost bins on hard-standing. We were getting snakes in the compost bin in the summer which freaked my husband out (they give him the horrors as do rats) so the compost bin is on a couple of paving slabs; not ideal, I know. We have a couple of compost heaps well away from the house but they have most of the grass cuttings and larger garden waste. I hope you manage to keep the hugel bed free of rats now.

    • Helen says:

      Snakes – ugh! At least I don’t have those. However, the rat got into the hugel bed again last night, but my guess is that once it has eaten all the ‘food’ in there it will be off to pastures new.

      I could see it had been down a tunnel to access the compost bin in the old position, so must have got a surprise when it surfaced into the air again. But the bin should be far enough away, so fingers crossed it will be happy with the hugel bed.

  4. Our neighborhood rats leave the compost bin alone, because it’s easier to eat all the oranges in the tree above! We have what is probably a 40 year old orange tree in the back corner of the garden. Daily, I pick up three to five gutted oranges. It’s almost comical. The tree produces hundreds of oranges, so we don’t mind. I wish I could send some oranges your way, for you, your daughter and your resident rat(s). Best of luck.

    • Helen says:

      Oranges would be lovely – thank you for the thought, Alys 😊😉.

      How wonderful for you that you can have oranges, though. I’m glad both that the rats leave you some and that the fruit act as a diversion.

      As for the attraction of the compost heap, I think it was because I was using liquid from the bokashi to speed up decomposition. That worked a treat but it does have a strong smell….

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