I’ve been let in on a little bit of unpleasantness: there’s a rat living up the block.

An especially unwelcome feature of this guy is that he likes to travel. One evening he visited our yard and dug out the fava beans and peas I’d planted. Got ’em all except one, which sent up a lovely shoot with beautiful broad leaves, and which he gnawed back to the ground. Promptly.

Oddly this guy doesn’t care for our lettuces, but he chewed up my neighbor Katie’s plastic gardening clogs. Katie’s spotted him trotting along the telephone wires in their yard.

So I’ve had to engage in some trickery to get vegetables going this spring. I started a new set of plants indoors. I keep seedlings on a sunny outdoor table. They’ve done well, thus far.

Two years ago a rat got into the compost; the solution was a ring of bricks sunk around the basin. But this is a different problem. I can’t control what food sources others leave around, meaning there’s no way to starve this guy just enough to make him pack his bags. One solution may be neighbor Christine’s cats who are often out roaming the block, but so far the bandit has eluded them. I’m wary of rat poison, since our dogs love sampling foods and non-foods alike. And what if a poisoning was successful? The stuff could easily move up the food chain to the cats, or to the owls that live in woods nearby. (Thanks to Kale for Sale for supplying some of the arguments.) So the latest brainchild is to grow seedlings to a decent size, then try fencing ’em in after transplanting.

I’d welcome any organic wisdom on this issue.