Ahem… Seed Potato Protection

I wasn’t going to show you my failed attempts at protecting my seed potatoes from the mice that live in my potting shed. But I’ve decided they’re too comical to waste. Last year, I fed all my seed potatoes to the shed mice, not on purpose you understand, but they did eat them all.

This year, knowing that their hungry little tummies were waiting, I tried to protect my potatoes while still allowing them to chit nicely. I thought I had come up with a genius plan – contain them in a wire basket on top of an upturned pot. And it worked, for a few days at least. I think they were actually figuring out a way to get up the flowerpot rather than into the wire basket.

Then, yesterday, I checked and yes they had got in, eaten two of them and scarpered. Then I realised that while the wire mesh was decent enough there were two huge holes at the top where the handles meet. Doh! Sometimes you can’t see what’s right infront of your nose.

So… my options are:

  • 1. Buy more seed and plant without chitting (not a problem says Monty Don)
  • 2. Buy more seed and construct better protection (this option = time. A commodity I have little of these days).
  • 3. Poison mice (oh but no…)
  • 4. Poison mice by inserting poison pellets into seed potatoes (more fun for me and at least they die happy, oh but no…)

Option one it is then.

23 Comments on “Ahem… Seed Potato Protection

  1. LOL – they will try and get in where ever they can.

    Have you thought of option 5: get hubby to tie some wire strands across the holes, leaving a thinner space for the handles to fit through?

  2. Oh dear how annoying but you are right not to kill them it’s not their fault that they like your spuds!
    I wonder what type of wee timorous beasties these ones are – my Pa has some absolutely adorable little field mice who visit his bird table seasonlly. These ones seem so shy and truly timorous beasties they have big ears and eyes and such cute, tiny little hands that we could never kill them even though they probably do eat some of the bulbs and plants i’ve put in for my Pa. One thing we noticed is that they don’t seem to breed very well , there’s not many of them and we think there must be only one little family in the garden – the female one (we think she’s the minnie mouse) is the one who comes to the table, usually she grabs a single nut in her little fingers and then dashes off she’s very slim and very nervous.

    I wonder if you could set out another ‘decoy’ box of some cheap supermarket spuds as a kind of distraction tactic? But it might encourage them too…this one’s gonna be tricky.

  3. Hi. I chit my spuds in the house on a windowsill. I use a box from the supermarket that was used for kiwis. I just sit the spuds in the kiwi spaces n leave them to do their thing. It works fine. The window is west facing if that makes a difference. I haven’t had any problems foing it this way.

  4. I’ve heard that mice can get through a hole the size of a pencil, so I think you’re doing the right thing.

  5. I love the fact you refuse to kill the mice. I know what you mean, I kind of feel sorry for them too.

  6. Sorry, that should have been “doing” it this way, not foing it! hehehe.

  7. I have mice in my potting shed too, gave me quite a shock one day when I opened a little wooden box in there and one ran out over my hand! He was probably more shocked than me though. I couldn’t kill them either. I just make sure my seed is secure in a big tin.

    I chit my spuds in my small lean-to conservatory, it’s more of a utility area at the side of the kitchen and is very bright. The perfect place for starting off seeds and spuds. And mice free!

  8. I’ve lost half my spuds this year to mice in my shed. They ate 4 totally and have nibbled a lot of the others beyond saving. I’ve bought them indoors now (the spuds!) to finish chitting in the utility room. My hubby complains every time he goes in there about them taking up too much room, but he hasn’t offered me any space in his precious garage so they’ll stay until ready for planting! I’ve two cats who are too lazy to catch anything, so I will have to put up with the mice I suppose and try to think up some protection plans!

  9. I chit my potatoes in the house on a windowsill and for added mouse protection, one of my cats has taken to napping on top of them. I now have slightly furry seed potatoes but not a mouse in sight!

  10. My potatoes are chitting in the spare bedroom to save them from mice. I thought I might have a few grandchild problems such as re-sorting so I wouldn’t know what was what – but no! They kept their little hands off them – bless their little cotton socks!

  11. Regarding killing the mice – I sort of feel they’re OK in the shed or garage but – if they come into the house it’s war!

  12. Although many remarks are already made, still a few comments:

    1. I started laughing directly seeing the pic and the word that this was supposed to be mouse protecting. Forget the big holes at the handles, they can go through each mesh hole without a doubt.
    2. Monty Don is definitely right: no need to chit patatoes at all. They are so terribly growsome that often potatoes start growing just from bits of peel in the compost heap. The first years after we bought our house I tried to convert the then horse training area into a vegetabe plot by putting all our compost including kitchen scraps on the sand and had hunderds of potato plants over the whole area just by doing this!
    3. From experience I know that a cat in the neighbourhood really helps. ( we don”t have one but are neighbour ones are feasting on the mice in our kitchen garden barn).
    4. I used to catch mice with a live trap (a sort of plastic box) and set them free far away. If they’ll come in your house this is an option. For shed mice not, they will keep coming.

  13. I also chit my potatoes on a windowsill in an unheated room but not sure it’s really necessary – I just like the ritual!

    But my problem with mice is that they eat all my stored spuds in the shed … but I have had great success with humane mouse traps baiting them with chocalate or peanut butter and then setting them free a few miles away under a hedgerow where there should be plenty for them to eat – and they are so cute!

  14. You were doomed from the start. The mice would have dieted till they could fit through the mess, slither inside, then gorge themselves to where they couldn’t get back out. You would have discovered a bunch of sleeping mice with great big smiles on the pointy little faces.

  15. I’ve never really understood why it’s recommended to “chit” potatoes. After all, when you accidentally leave some potatoes in the ground at the end of one season they always come up the next year as “volunteers” – and they’re always strong plants! I don’t think I’ll bother with chitting any more.

  16. I chit my potatoes in a largish propagator by the garage window and put a stone on top to weight it down. They don’t seem to chit particularly fast. I like the ritual too so wouldn’t want to miss this bit. It feels so hopeful

  17. No need to chit, only use I can think of is to limit the number of shoots – by cutting out the excess ones – which would only be a concern if you are growing for show were you’re looking for smaller amounts of evenly sized spuds. Otherwise plant them straight in the ground, they’ll grow from a trench of potato peelings so it shouldn’t be a problem if they’re not chitted.

  18. That’s pretty funny! Well, at least the mice were happy. Good luck planting!

  19. Just saw this website for the first time today and I like it!

    Well, I agree, mice are really cute.
    But they are also vermin who proliferate when encouraged. Here on East Coast US, the white-footed mouse — really adorable! — are the main carrier of the tiny “deer tick” which carries Lyme disease.

    If I see just One mouse, usually in my garage, I treat it as a plague of Biblical proportions. I unleash my 3 WMDs (Weapons of Mouse Destruction, aka Cats) in the garage in shifts until the vermin have been decimated.

    Give them an inch, and let them get comfy, then next thing you know you find Stuart Little sitting on your sofa having a beer when you get home from work…

    Just sayin’…

  20. How about attaching a 9v battery across the cage. Won’t kill them but they won’t try twice.

  21. Mice certainly can get through the smallest spaces, and I agree with Tanya – the mesh would not have posed a problem! We used to live in an old farmhouse and it was not unusual to see a mouse come under the door from the hallway and sit on the step into the kitchen nibbling the nigella seeds gathered from the dried flowers on the hall table. Speechless didn’t come into it..
    As for chitting potatoes, it is a lovely ritual and a feel good one at this time of the year when the north wind is blowing outside. I use egg boxes and sit them on the sill in the utility room

  22. Try screwing two hooks onto the shed roof and hanging the wire basket up there. My intelligent shed mice somehow manage to get onto the top shelf in the shed to eat my blood and bone packet. I hang things in string bags now from the central beam.