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Snooth User: outthere

Any Gardeners out there?

Posted by outthere, Jun 15, 2014.

Vegetables, fruit, whatever?


Reply by outthere, Jun 15, 2014.

Got a visit from my arch rival, Msr. Gopher, this morning. I was snapping this photo and noticed the mound just in front of the crookneck squash.

I turn the soil every morning with a pitchfork to keep the buggers at bay. This morning he was too quick for me. An hour later...
Damn it! I love gardening!
Reply by napagirl68, Jun 15, 2014.

The only successful way to kill them is to trap them.  I have tried fumigation, and it never worked.  The old hose down the hole only wastes water.   Poison works, but your have to locate it correctly.  You could encase the main parts of the root systems in heavy duty chicken type of wire.  I have done that successfully in the past.  They are horrible.  I finally solved my issue years ago with a golden retriever that was hell bent on catching gophers.  And he was good at it, but it did involve a lot of digging!

Reply by dmcker, Jun 15, 2014.

Hose down the hole works. I killed dozens that way growing up in SoCal. It just takes time and focus and coordination and knowing the warren network. And sometimes a club. My brother and I became expert at tagteaming. Boys and their viciousness.

Cats work. Used to enjoy watching mine hunt the buggers. Sitting down-sun over a hole for hours, then pouncing.

Gopher snakes also work.  ;-)

Traps work--are they still using those boxes with the pop up guillotine-effect wire?

Sinking fencing deep is a pain and not always successful.

You could always 'fence' the area by planting unpalatable or genetically-resistant stock around it. One example would be Euphorbia lathyris.

Have heard people talk about using pet waste as both fertilizer and repellant. Other than the occasional extemporaneous droppings by my pets, never have tried it.

Also haven't tried 'burrow blasters', though if I lived in CA right now would be tempted to. Probably requires a bit of research to find the right product.

Poison brings collateral damage and accompanying ambivalencies, to put it mildly. Generally not good for kids, pets and local non-rodent wildlife. Anybody doing any genetic targeting on the beasties (and only those beasties)?


And yeah, NG, even though you have to admire its dedication, I can just imagine what a big dog would do to the garden...  ;-(

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 15, 2014.

Dmcker,  I don't think OT has the luxury of flooding this year ;-)

Growing up in a rural area, I remember my Italian grandmother, who lived with us, battling the gophers to save her amazing gardens.  Once, she ran the hose all day, and flooded our neighbor's yard across the street, and at least an acre away!  The gophers lived because they have little burrows above the main tunnel.  Also, the property was graded slightly downhill toward the neighbor's, which didn't work to her advantage.  Being retired and in her garden all day anyway, she resorted to a pistol.

Traps seem to be the recommended method nowadays.  I don't like poison either.  Beyond any environmental impact, I don't want my dog or my neighbor's dog/cat, or other wildlife to ingest a poisoned gopher.  But man o man, they can be so destructive.  I have watched as whole plants shook, and disappeared.  They also, over time, killed some small trees I had.  I live in a heavy clay area now, and while gardening is more work requiring many soil amendments,  I am happy to report no gophers, no voles have reared their ugly heads.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 15, 2014.

Well SoCal adobe never stopped the gophers down there.

I and my brother mapped out whole gopher warrens two and a half times. One in our 'way back' (about a quarter acre, behind the backyard, where our kitchen garden was located). Once in a family lemon orchard, and once in our front yard. Since it required extensive use of shovels and picks to uncover multiple levels across broad areas to get at the whole network, my father wasn't happy when he came home to see what we were doing to the front lawn. Thus the 'half'.  ;-(

The effort that went into that mapping paid off. After that we could winkle out the gophers much faster, even using garden hoses.

I didn't mention guns, but they were employed on several occasions (if not on the front lawn in town). I was practicing for my marksman badges, and .22s of several varieties served their purpose.

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 15, 2014.

Nonna's weapon of choice was a S&W .38, IIRC.   Overkill, but that's how she rolled.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 15, 2014.

Hey, I was in the 8~11 yr range, after all. Did win my marksman badges before graduating to 30cal and larger (though 22magnums did fair damage of their own). Gopher kills served me in good stead, since live targets are so much more difficult than static ones. 

Took my family pretty much three generations to transition out of farming/ranching into city jobs. Starting with my grandfather who was a college professor but also bought and flipped ranches on the side, through my father who managed them when we had them while working swingshift as a computer systems designer at the Pacific Missile Range, to me who was grunt work (driving tractors from age 7, helping manage work crews not much older, hunting all sorts of vermin--even to culling deer from our avocado orchard--from that age or a little older, putting out smudge pots and getting windmachines going on frost nights by 10, working in plants processing our lemons when a little older, etc., etc.). Besides farm animals and horses, dealt with all sorts of squirrels, racoons, badgers, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, pumas and bears on a regular basis, as well as snakes, raptors and whatever else. Gophers were like comedians in that mix. My kids nothing of that, which I occasionally regret--almost bought a ranch near Walla Walla in the '90s so they could have summers there, but got sidetracked. Certainly would've transitioned to growing grapes if I had.

From here in Tokyo gophers seem such a comfy, easy, even nostalgic problem. Can smell the earth and greenery, feel the sun and breeze, imagine how to deal with them even now. Better than watching the construction crane raising a highrise out my bedroom window.

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 15, 2014.

Aww.. Dmcker.  You are missing California...   I completely understand, as I have lived nowhere else.  I commend your boyhood pursuit of gophers, as well as your marksmanship.  My Nonna was in her 60's at the time... lots of life experience :-)  She had nowhere the challenge you had with her simple, but pretty cool,  rural garden.  But the gopher stuff was so funny, and I will never forget it as long as I live.  She tried everything!  The neighbor across the street was also Italian and a gardener, and he cross-bred various fruits to attempt to form new hybrids- cherries, raspberries, etc.   I just remember them scheming on how to get the gophers, and keeping watch at times!   At one point, they were using my walkie talkies!

Reply by GregT, Jun 16, 2014.

Had no gophers but evil squirrels in NYC. They'd eat tomatoes, knock off tulips, scrape up daffodils, and massacre just about everything. I have pics of them - one stretched out on the railing to the deck eating a green tomato, another sat on my AC, looked me in the eye, took a dump and sauntered off, another stopped by for a minute, looked at me, peed on the AC and walked away. They'd dig up, tear out, scratch around and just destroy anything I planted.

Then I planted habaneros.

I guess they mistook them for tomatoes.

Came out one day and found a habanero on the path with a bite out of it. Right next to it was the bite.

Didn't see the squirrel but as the habaneros grew, unmolested, they intertwined with the tomatoes.

By the time we were done, the squirrels were leaving me alone. They apparently can't tell the difference between habaneros and any other fruit, so plant a lot of them and you're good.

Now I have all kinds of tomatoes that I never planted - they bring them from the neighbors, the seeds get strewn about, and they start growing.

I'd shoot the squirrels and make a squirrel stew, but they're Brooklyn wildlife and you don't know what they've eaten.

As far as gophers go, I heard that mothballs in their tunnels work.  Supposedly in the garden too, but I never tried that.

Reply by outthere, Jun 16, 2014.

Believe me when I say "Nothing works on gophers". I've tried it all. The only protection is raised beds with gopher wire below. The rest is all old wives tales.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 16, 2014.

Not tryin' hard enough, OT. None of my experiences are apocryphal. You just have to employ all possible techniques regularly for success. We achieved it back then, and I'm sure you can, too. ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Jun 16, 2014.

"Dmcker,  I don't think OT has the luxury of flooding this year ;-)"

Water, what's that? Who needs it, anyway?

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 16, 2014.

Such a funny word for water.

Good to hear all the gopher strategies, but feel I'd be helpless unless I was retired or had some serious free time to deal with them.

Reply by EMark, Jun 16, 2014.

We have occasional rodent issues, here in the inland empire--the soil of which is a combination of clay and rock.  I don't see many gophers, lately.  Mostly, I suspect because most of both my front and back yards are covered by concrete.  However, in the last few summers, ground squirrels have become a nuisance--much to the displeasure of farmer Peggy.  Thank you, very much, Greg, for the Habanero pepper idea, Greg.  I will pass it along.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 16, 2014.

Upside to urban gardening?  No gophers.  Downside:  Just about every other small animal that can subsist on garbage until your strawberries, figs, tomatoes, ripen.  Possums, skunks, squirrels, racoons and the neighbor's Manx cats that crap everywhere except his yard. 

When I was a kid, we had huge gopher issues.  Neighbor beat one to death, my mother poisoned many, and we probably only tried flooding once or twice.  I'll ask if planting hungarian wax peppers had any effect.  Good thing was that they had other places to go so they didn't hit a high density. 

All my vegetables are planted in raised beds with lining because the soil here is likely contaminated from the freeways.  Not practical in a larger space but works for the urban gardener, especially when you work at high density.

Now if I could just figure out what parasite has been building nests at the bottom of my pepper plants and killing them off. 

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