Wednesday around noon I checked on the garden then left for an hour. When I came back there were rat teeth marks in my biggest eggplant. Cringing, I picked it and then cut off the part that had been gnawed. After all, eggplants are rarer then a pink elephant in Seattle gardens.
An hour later I went back out. There were teeth marks in another eggplant. I repeated step one from above. Then I picked some mint and covered the remaining eggplants with it since I had read rats don’t like the smell of mint. I immediately ran to the shed to get my deer netting and covered the entire eggplant diamond, anchoring the netting into the ground with garden stakes.
By the time I got back a third eggplant had rat gnawings on it. I repeated step one from above. Then I noticed quite a few of the tomatoes had rat gnawings on them too so I hastily picked all the ripe ones.
That night I did some research online. I couldn’t find any information about whether it was safe to eat non-affected areas of food (i.e. after cutting out the gnawed parts.) These were my 3 biggest eggplants. I’ll probably never be able to repeat this success again. And freshly picked eggplant is a cat of a whole different class then even farmer’s market eggplants. I wasn’t about to chuck it in the compost.
And then is that even safe? If it’s not safe to eat, is it safe to compost? What I was able to find about rat-related diseases is that they seem to be spread specifically by rat urine in a wet environment. So swimming in the sewer or other stagnant water seems like a bad idea but probably even if a rat peed in your garden or on your compost pile you would be ok. Certainly cooking foods would be enough to destroy it, especially if you were going to pressure can it which takes things up to 240 degrees (the temperature necessary to destroy bacteria.)
Except I had no pressure canner.
And then just for grins I did some research on the side effects of botulism. Not pretty. Even with lipstick on it. So I freaked out and bought a pressure canner the next day.
I’ve always sort of prided myself on the fact that I didn’t own a pressure canner despite putting up massive amounts of food at certain points in my life. Honestly though, I think I feared the pressure canner. I’ve several times had my espresso machine blow off on me and it’s a little daunting. Not to mention difficult to clean espresso grounds off the ceiling, walls and cupboards.
So now I’m the proud owner of one 23 quart pressure canner. I’m pretty stoked too, reading through all that it can do. As we speak I’m making up my own version of V-8 juice for bloody marys without care for pH. My husband is going salmon fishing in Elliot Bay tomorrow and should he catch anything dag nabbit I can can it. Next year when the asparagus are producing (and they WILL, yes they will) I can can some.
And tomorrow when I’m sick and tired of freezing, drying, jamming, leathering and chutneying the 32 pounds of peaches I picked up today from Rama farms I can can me some. In short, I can can.
And now back to the rat…
Whilst on my internet journey the other night I read that if you stick a piece of Wrigley mint gum down their burrow they’ll move out. So I went to the store and bought quite a few packs. Two days later I’m still pulling off about 10 tomatoes daily with filthy little fang marks on them. So today I finally let me husband go the store and get some poison.
I made him buy some PVC pipe to stick it in so that our dog, stray cats or escaped chickens can’t get at it. He bought one T section with end caps for the two T parts so the rat could crawl deep in the burrow but nothing else could get in.
I hope I haven’t damned my organic garden here but if this keeps up there won’t be a garden left. There you have it. Rat: 34 tomatoes and 3 eggplant, me: karma down a notch.
Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass.