Visits to the allotment stopped around late summer due to close family bereavement. Last month I began visiting again after some time out and noticed the carrots were disappearing, I assumed it was slugs having the time of their lives after a summer of hiding from the sun, but then out of the corner of my eye a flash of something furry alerted me to a vole-shaped hole in the soil.
Voles are similar to mice in looks although they have shorter tails, smaller eyes and fatter heads (even fatter now thanks to me). They create a network of shallow underground tunnels, round entrance holes on the surface of the soil are a tell-tale sign.
Apart from my carrots they dine on vegetation, seeds and fruit but they are also known to eat other rodents, dead animals and insects. Nice.
Well, they’re certainly not wasteful creatures. Of course some of this could have been avoided if I had harvested the purple carrots before the end of summer, they don’t store in the ground very well for me unlike the maincrop variety which I enjoy pulling all the way through winter. No chance of that now.
So, what to do if you discover voles have moved in on your allotment? Visiting your plot regularly particularly from late summer onwards might deter them but it’s tricky if not impossible to prevent voles tunnelling. Personally, I don’t wish to trap, poison or kill them. Annoying as it is they’re part of life’s rich tapestry, a valuable food source for owls and foxes which is a positive way to look at it.
I have accepted the loss of my carrots, mourned them and decided to leave what is left in situ. I pray this keeps the voles away from my broad bean seeds which have so far escaped their attention, germinating nicely nearby.
I can only hope the voles move on once the carrots run out. The ups and downs of allotment life, never a dull moment!