California North Coast

Gallimauphry Friday: Foiling The Gophers

 

gopher

Botta’s Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae), back when I thought is was cool to see a wild mammal on the property. I got over it because of the destruction.

I like to garden and we have an acre to do it on. It’s great exercise, especially for easel artists like me who are either sitting or standing most work days. Lots of range of motion…reaching, kneeling, carrying yard waste to the compost pile etc. so it’s a good workout in the fresh air. And results in flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit and berries. But, like many people who live in rural areas, we have gophers. The cats account for some (Alexander a Really Great Cat got a big one last month), we set traps in live holes, but of course they’re never gone for long. Nature finds a niche and fills it. I’ve lost a lot of bulbs and even some roses over the years. So when I wanted to replace a couple I decided that I wasn’t going to just plop them into the ground and cross my fingers We had some leftover gopher cloth from what we had put under the raised bed and there was enough to line a couple of planting holes. My goal is to give the roots enough safe growing space that they will stay alive and thrive. We’ll see.

The Black Hole gopher trap is the most humane solution that we’ve found. When triggered it crushes the thorax and they die pretty much instantly. Plus it doesn’t endanger our pets or other wildlife. A few years ago while I was on my annual seven week trip to Mongolia my husband trapped nine and the cats got eight. That stopped the worst of the damage, but we have to be eternally vigilant, especially now when they’re getting active again and hungry.

I thought I’d post a few photos of what we did in case you might find it useful. If you have found any non-toxic gopher controls that work, let me know in the comments.

The roses are “Graham Thomas” a beautiful golden yellow David Austin rose that can be grown as a climber.

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The first try. I dug the planting hole and we folded the mesh into it, dug out some more, tried it again, repeated until it fit the hole just below soil level.

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And this is what it looks like with the rose planted with the addition of a river rock edge. It’s at the base of one of the vertical posts on the potting shed.

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Out front planting space was tighter in the bed next to the garage door. I scooped the dirt out onto an old tarp.

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Fitting the mesh into the hole

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Then we formed the “basket”, folding the corners securely together.

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The rose and its root ball in place. Next step was to refill the bed. Managed to not disturb the daffodils.

We’ve had a series of those “atmospheric river” storms, heavy rain and wind, so haven’t gotten much done other than to start pruning the roses. But in the next week or so I think the 2017 gardening season will be on!

 

 

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