Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis) is a disease humans can catch from rats through water or wet vegetation contaminated with rat urine. Rats also transmit salmonella. Prevention is a matter of good practice and common sense.
- Discourage rats by securing compost in bins and not putting cooked food on the compost heap.
- Rat-proof compost bins with wire mesh if necessary.
- To reduce the risks from salmonella avoid using rat-infested compost on edible crops, especially those not cooked before consumption.
- Protect from water-borne diseases such as Weil’s disease by wearing waterproof gloves, clothing and boots when clearing out ponds.
- Always wash your hands after gardening and especially before eating.
- Keep a hand sterilising gel down in the potting shed if clean water is not available.
- If you have poultry or pigeons on your allotment then you should ensure that foodstuffs are securely stored in a way that prevents access by rodents
- In the case of poultry or pigeon keeping, your feeding routines should be ones which ensure that only your livestock can access the food.
Anyone who thinks that they have rats on their allotments should firstly secure all compost bins as above and dispose of unwanted rubbish which could provide shelter for rodents such as rats. If you need to take your rubbish to the tip then do so.
Of course there is some rubbish that you can dispose of by burning but please observe the good practice concerning fires on allotments so that you do not cause unwanted damage to your plot or that of your neighbours or otherwise cause undue upset in the area.
Also sheds, cold frames and other storage spaces should be inspected and secured so that they do not allow access and provide shelter for rats (or mice or other unwanted rodents) in severe winter weather.
You can talk to your allotment committee if you need further advice on a rat problem as it could be that these are coming in from neighbouring houses/factories/buildings rather than from the allotment site itself.
No material other than that produced on your plot should be burnt on site.
Only burn when suitable weather conditions permit to avoid causing a nuisance to local
residents (wind drift etc.)
Only organic matter such as wood, prunings and dry vegetable matter should be burnt.
Do not set fire to massive piles of material; it is better to start your bonfire with a medium stack and then add more material when it is very hot. Use a brazier if you can.
Non-vegetable matter such as plastic, rubber, roofing felt or bitumen, carpet, etc. must not be burnt. Flammable liquids such as petrol should not be burnt or used to light fires.
Extinguish your bonfire before leaving the site – do not let the fire smoulder after you have gone.
Only burn on your own plot, do not light fires for others.
In the event of a reasonable complaint to the plot holder from another tenant, or a member of the public, with regard to a nuisance being caused, the bonfire should be extinguished immediately.
When you take on the tenancy of an allotment you agree to abide by the rules that you are given. This means using your allotment as a space for growing crops of fruit, vegetables and flowers. To leave it uncultivated and claim you are growing for wildlife will ensure that you are asked to leave.
However this does not mean that you cannot have spaces for wildlife and wild flowers on your allotment within reason.
If your allotment has hedges you have the idea environment for allowing garden birds to nest and ones which may provide winter food if there is hawthorn or ivy. Ivy forms berries in a very blank period at the end of January and into February when there is little food for garden birds.
Remember that some of your crops will encourage wildlife in the garden. Before you all cry out that you don’t want rats on your plot, cabbage white butterflies and whitefly on you brassicas or slugs in your spuds, remember that there are other plants such as all the common beans and peas which will benefit from butterflies, bees and hoverflies. And that you can grow herbs such as lavender, oregano and rosemary which are friendly to bees and butterflies. Also a few annual flowers will be good additions to your compost heap at the end of the season.
The internet is full of useful information on how to encourage wildlife on your allotment or in your garden whilst still growing the food that you want for your family.
A little light reading for you: