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Pesky voles

Hi all, 
I was hoping to get some advice around dealing with voles on my allotment plots. I've seeded metres of fall/winter veg, planted tens of plug grown brassica and am growing squashes and strawberries (freshly planted in June) and they have virtually all been tunneled under and negatively impacted - in the case of the seedlings, mostly killed :-( 

The woodchip path covering I disingeniously put in place seems to provide a moist ewsily-tunnelable conduit for them from neighboroughing overgrown plots. I've scrapped it all off, but I know seem to have a resident community.

Every trip to the allotment entails 30 minutes of collapsing their tunnels and resettling my plants.

I've tried creating mini trenches around my plot, but they just seem like convenient resting points, as the little blighters just tunnel in and out.

I have lots of leeks, parsnips, beetroot and carrots that have yet to be touched, but I'm worried they will eventually find and devour. Oh, and not to mention my developing row of apple cordons. 

I'm getting quite worried, as I gather the vole problem is more acute in autumn :-( and to be honest, I am concerned about the future viability of the plot. As such, I am seeking members wisdom on ways to address this. I certainly don't have any thoughts of killing them (Buddhist leanings) and I gather any form of live trapping is very traumatic for them, so that is out unless my understanding is incorrect. Also, I gather buried fences of 6mm wire can be used, but this seems a very expensive option. 

Any advice or comments would be hugely appreciated!

Kind regards. 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 64,629
    Flippin' wildlife eh?  ;)  I suppose you could encourage owls and kestrels to frequent the area? 🤔
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • I think voles, field mice and shrews are all partial to a nice seed or two. The only way I have found to work is never sow seed direct into my open  garden. I start everything off in pots and pot on at least once, sometimes twice, once the shoots appear and the plants are growing well I transplant into the garden. The blighters do not seem to like strong smelling plant seed, my radish do not seem to be eaten by them, nor beetroot, leeks and parsnips. Any peas and beans do not stand a chance.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,851
    Voles or shrews were the bane of my life when I had several quite high (2') raised beds. They used to tunnel up and under the veg and eat them from below. Many a fine looking carrot or beetroot was harvested only to find that the (very healthy looking) top part came away in my hand and all the carrot or beetroot had been eaten leaving just a thin top shell.

    Strawberries were also attacked. There were plenty and I don't mind sharing - but I do object to taking one bite out of a fruit and then moving on to the next one...

    I'm afraid I never found a solution and the beds were dismantled a couple of years ago - too disheartening😢
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • neilbradburnneilbradburn Posts: 136
    Hi doveFromAbove, Wildlife, eh! - Can't live with it, can't live without it :-) encouraging natural to predators to balance the system sounds a good idea. I think I may errect some sort of perch for such birds. 

    Hi Joyce GoldenLilly, useful information, thanks! I generally do plant out plug plants, but it's not feasible for large numbers of plants - and a bit of a waste of compost :-) having said that, the voles don't aren't playing fairly even if I do this, as they are uprooting some decent sized plants :-( interestingly, they do seem to have a penchant for the roots of cavalo Nero. It's reassuring to hear they tend to avoid some of the plants they haven't yet touched. Note, however, they did go for my 5 rows of winter radishes - perhaps these are less pungent that summers!? 

    Hi top Bird, sorry to hear of your woes and the eventual need to surrender. I hope you are finding nourishment - literal and metaphorical - elsewhere. I guess I better inspect my carrots and beets... Gulp..... 

    I will persist with my efforts and will keep you all updated. I think I'm going to setup a wildlife camera to see what I'm dealing with.

    Any other strategies or thoughts much appreciated... 

    Thanks again! 

    Kind regards 

  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 988
    I had them one year very badly, apparently they go in population cycles so they can be very prolific one year and not the next, so maybe next year it will be much improved?
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 938
    I gave up and bought a vole trap, it works wonders we've caught lots of voles, one mouse and the dog. You might find the trap type marketed as a mole trap but it works well for voles it goes inside the tunnel (don't put it in a mole tunnel of course!) they make so it doesn't catch many random things. If you do end up getting that type of trap I would say put a bucket over it to stop accidental dog catching (she knew it had a nice yummy vole in it, pulled it up and while extracting the vole managed to get her lip stuck in it, no harm done except to my stress levels and the trap.. )
    We lost half a greenhouse of potatoes to a watervole (which are a pest species here not a protected rarity like the UK) several apple trees to voles eating the roots. and over 10m of parsnips/carrots that I had stupidly left in the ground over winter. It most certainly has been a bumper year for the little hairy pests.
  • neilbradburnneilbradburn Posts: 136
    Hi skandi, 
    Yikes! My heart goes out to you! - and sinks to new lows :-(

    Did you try other measures before the traps? I really don't want to trap them, being a practising Buddhist.  I'm thinking buried mesh or deep surrounding trenches, encouring vole predators on-site.... 

    Could I also ask how old your apple trees were? I'm really worried now, as I have 8 cordons and 2 espalier apple trees, 2 szechuan peppers bushes and a plum Bush establishing. They're mostly 2 years old. Interestly, one of the peppers was almost ring barked last winter. I assumed it was a rabbit and put a tree quard around it, and it has managed to pull through. But now I know better re the culpret :-( think it may have been a harbinger of things to come if I'm not careful, as I gather the super active vole season is approaching.

    Kind regards. 
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