I love my vegetable garden but this year my 75x35 foot patch has been repeatedly ravaged by a pack of vile burrowing rodents. It’s ridiculous.
At one point my garden was loaded with 28 vigorous tomato vines, four potato mounds, five water melon vines, four Italian zucchini vines, three Brussels sprouts stalks, three eggplants, numerous perfect pickle cucumbers, a row of lettuce and two rows of radishes. Plus my annual two-plant deep, 40- foot long row of tobacco plants, which I grow as an insect barrier.
As of this evening, my garden has one dead artichoke, and three surviving heirloom tomatoes that just might make it through to harvest.
I am absolutely convinced somewhere deep on the earth, an evil female vole is plotting to destroy my current and future gardens while pumping out evil legions of babies equipped with homing devices that direct them to my garden.
My war against the critters has escalated to the point where I’ve nearly exhausted my arsenal: dry ice, two boxes of firecrackers and (I prefer not to use Type I poisons such as strychnine because of its unintended downstream effects on the lazy-ass predators that should be feasting on the voles.
A little bit of critter knowledge goes a long way in defending a garden. Voles and gophers tend to be diurnal, so at sunset and sunrise, I’m out on the small rise over my garden with a scoped Beeman air rifle or my trusty iron-sighted single shot .22 rifle. I use .22 CB shorts—a low power type of ammunition that uses the power of the bullet’s primer to drive the bullet to its target and which has a report that’s about as loud as a hammer striking a nail in piece of lumber. This surprising low tech approach to critter control is both effective and rewarding. Since I took to the high ground, I’ve dispatched 12 voles that have popped up in my garden.
I don’t feel bad about sending the furry little bastards to their just rewards. I feel good, like I knew that I would! And the heirloom beefsteaks now maturing in my garden will taste mightyfine when I pick them in about six weeks.—Jim Forbes 07/15/2012