Food attracts pests and rodents. And rodents attract snakes.
These are facts of life if you choose to use a root cellar to store your food over the winter months. They’re handy, but you must know how to battle the intruders, or your crops will be gone.
When we built our root cellar, it was my favorite place. I’d go into it regularly and look at all the fantastic foods we had stored. I was proud!
One day, I went to retrieve an onion to go with our dinner. I reached into the mesh bag for the onion, and when I did, mice scattered. I screamed like something was after me and refused to go back to the root cellar until we figured out how to reclaim it.
The fact is mice, rodents, bugs, and other pests will constantly try to find their way to your food source because it’s also their food source. But here are a few effective root cellar pest control methods to help deter your unwanted guests:
1. A Little Freshness
If you’ve grown mint, you know it’s essential to grow it in a container or it will take over everything.
This isn’t a bad thing when battling rodents in your root cellar. Consider sprinkling peppermint or spearmint inside of your cellar. The visitors hate it.
You could also boil some mint in water and put it in a spray bottle. Spritz your root cellar with the minty mist for an added layer of protection.
2. Grandma’s Closet
When I was a little girl, I remember opening my grandmother’s coat closet and smelling the scent of mothballs.
It’s strong, but it works. Add mothballs to your root cellar. Most rodents and snakes avoid this scent when possible. This may be all it takes to move them out of your space.
My husband wasn’t a fan of this suggestion at first because the smell can be overwhelming, but I’d rather have a strongly scented root cellar than mice and snakes running rampant in my food storage.
3. Here Kitty, Kitty
Someone dropped the little guy in the restroom, and we couldn’t leave him. It was a great move on our part because he’s an excellent little mouser.
When I go to the root cellar, I take him with me. He’ll catch and kill anything which scurries, and he guards the root cellar door to make sure nothing comes out which isn’t supposed to.
4. Don’t Retreat
I told you how I refused to go back to the root cellar when I had mice scurrying around my potatoes and onions. This was the worst thing I could’ve done.
Mice don’t like us any more than we like them. Therefore, if you make your presence known, they stay out of the way.
Go into your root cellar a couple of times per week. Check for any rotting crops and keep the area clean. Your presence alone may cause some critters in your root cellar to leave.
5. A Little Peanut Butter
Mice are the hardest creatures to get rid of in a root cellar because they can fit through the tiniest of holes.
If you don’t have any small children or animals which hang out in your root cellar without supervision, set some traps. A little peanut butter in the trap should draw them out and send a strong message to any survivors.
Also, you can consider sprinkling poison on the ground (away from your food) which will help take care of your problem too. Again, don’t do this if you have small children or pets which hang out around your root cellar.
Alternatively, invest in an ultrasonic pest repellent which is a more humane approach to keeping your cellar your domain.
I don’t enter my root cellar without my garden hoe. Why? Because if I come across a mouse or a snake, I’m not going to be caught unprepared.
When digging in bins for crops, I use the garden hoe because I don’t want to stick my hand in a bin and get bitten.
Therefore, make sure you use a garden hoe or sturdy rod to do your digging when inside a root cellar. Play it smart to avoid bites, which can cause many unnecessary problems.
7. Hardware Cloth
Did you know mice have a hard time chewing through hardware cloth? If you’re concerned about them living in your crates or bins, wrap the sides in hardware cloth and attach it across the top of the bin too.
I still wouldn’t stick my hand in a bin which I couldn’t see exactly what was in it because we all know, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way.’
It can serve as an extra layer of protection too. Some people will line the walls of their root cellar in hardware cloth to keep pests out and claim to have had a good experience with it.
8. Lock Everything Down
The most important step you can take with keeping your root cellar safe from mice, snakes, bugs, and other unwanted guests is to secure your root cellar.
Make sure you have a sturdy door which seals your root cellar from the outside world. You should still have proper ventilation in your root cellar.
However, make sure you have hardware cloth over the ventilation pipes or screens to make it as difficult as possible for this to be an entry point.
9. Guinea Fowl
I can’t speak highly enough of guinea fowl. They’re loud and can be quite bossy with other poultry, but they’re worth their weight in gold.
If you have mice, snakes, or bugs inside your root cellar, they’re coming from somewhere. If you kick them off your property, they won’t make it to your root cellar.
Guinea fowl are excellent at hunting and killing mice, snakes, and bugs. They also eat ticks and are wonderful alarm systems. If you can add guinea fowl to your flock, you have a higher chance of keeping unwanted critters out of your root cellar.
Root cellar pest control can be a struggle and on-going battle, but it’s worth the fight.
If you don’t stay on top of root cellar pest control, you could end up losing a good portion of your harvest or could end up injured by coming across one of these pests unexpectedly.
Keep a watchful eye and utilize these tips to keep your root cellar efficient, effective, and safe for you and your loved ones.