Gardening is my guilty pleasure but for the last two years burrowing rodents have harshed my earthy vibe.
Last year, I thought building a raised bed planter could forestall the terrestrial invaders, but I was wrong.
This year I added two more raised beds that had metal lath stapled to their bottoms. Then I filled each box with estate blended garden soil from the dirt store in nearby San Pasqual. I dumped about 900 pounds of vintage blended garden soil into each box.
That was just the first of several mistakes I made this year. Turns out when I was shoveling dirt into the new raised bed, I ripped out several staples that held the garden lath wire at the bottom of the box. I didn’t realize this until after I planted six heirloom tomatoes and planted two rows of corn I had started in small six pack planters. The corn was unmolested for two days before I notice a six inch tall plant wiggling in the evening breeze.
I know exactly what corn stalks waving in the breeze means. Damn burrowing rodents. To add insult to injury, the same evening I saw my corn stalks waving surrender, I noticed something very strange in my original raised bed. It had been savagely invaded by a large rodent,
I’ve not given up on gardening or on winning a war against gophers and squirrels, but I have some observations about my struggle.
First most of the gopher and vole remedies you see advertised in gardening magazines are totally useless.
Case in point solar powered sonic spikes. The two I purchased may have attracted rhythm m loving gophers beaus within 8 hours of my sticking the useless contraptions in the ground I notice a gopher hole right next to the spike.
I had a similar results with a wind powered clacker.
I now have a mental image of two gophers curled up around the spikes an clackers, grooving to the music of my defeat, laughing at me in little tinny gopher voices.
A few weeks ago I thought simply “If you want war, you got it”. Then I called a pest control service who trapped squirrels and killed gophers. Within10 days, the number of squirrels scampering arcos my yard dropped from ten to two.. And I haven’t seen a new gopher hole in any of my three raised beds.
It could be a pyrrhic victory since after the expense of the pest control service, plus my own rodent remedies the cost of growing big honking heirloom tomatoes is probably four times greater than hat I would pay for them at any of the four local farm stands.
the really bad news, burrowing rodents have killed seven avocado trees, one Avalon peach and two hybrid apricots.
The really good news is I that one of the Christmas gifts I received last year was a $100 gift card at my favorite local nursery, El Plantio, here in Escondido.
The other cheery thing about living near the intersection of a city and wildlands is that the squirrels and gophers have attracted natural predators.
And, the image of a California long-tailed weasel hauling off a screaming gopher, or a hawk soaring skyward with a dead squirrel in its talon is more than OK with me.
And as I learned a long time ago in a place called Khe Sanh, like a home, a garden is where you dig it.—Jim Forbes on 25 May, 2016.