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Plants to Fend Off Gophers\Rats

 
Jeff Rash
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Hello,

Looking for info on what I can plant with fruit trees that will make a barrier to gophers and especially desert rats.

I have found that in Arizona, despite the terrible heat, I can grow anything with the right techniques. My next "big project" is fruit trees.

Trouble is, my handful of early trees were devoured by gophers and or desert rats. They attack from below and I really have no way to defend against that. Once they find a tree, they eat on it until nothing is left and it flops over. The roots are all gone and it looks like a stick!

So anybody have an idea of what I can plant with my trees to drive pests that want the roots away?

Don't let the fact that I am in the desert bother you, I can grow anything out here that grows elsewhere.

Thanks for any advice!

YLE
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
Posts: 127
Location: Orgyen, zone 8
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You might want to try the gopher plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa). This evergreen perennial member of the Euphorbia family is famous for emitting a nasty toxic latex from its roots and leaves that really turns plant-eating rodents off! This plant is hardy down to 5 F. and does well in my permaculture veggie garden/food forest. My root crops seem to survive with a bunch of gopher plants in the same bed. Unprotected root crops often get munched. These plants seed themselves but don't seem to be invasive in my area- but please check your local rules before planting. In fact, I've never planted a single one, they've always been in my main garden since I moved in. However, I've never tried them directly around fruit trees, so maybe someone else here has experience with that. The bees LOVE the flowers and can't seem to get enough. They seem to get some kind of buzz from the nectar in the flowers. Maybe someone here can help with seeds...Good luck!

PS: Some people plant saffron crocus around cherry trees- the bulbs are toxic and the anthers contain saffron- an expensive spice.
 
Jeff Rash
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Well thank you MK! I don't think I have any issues with invasive species, being as if you don't water something in my part of the desert it will die, but I will double check nonetheless.

If it's hearty to 5F, that should be great for my needs!

I will look into this.

Sincerely,

Jeff
 
Michael Qulek
Posts: 148
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What I've done to stop gophers is make wire pots out of hardware cloth. HC is welded screen with approximately 3/8" squares, too small for gophers or moles to get through. I make pots about 1 foot in diameter, place them in the hole I've dug, and then plant the tree inside the pot. The whole thing inside and out then gets filled with soil. This is the only thing that has kept my trees alive. BTW, tried chicken wire, but the spaces are too wide and the gophers got through it. I protect the trucks of seedlings with easy to cut plastic drain pipe.
 
Jeff Rash
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Hello Michael,

I thought of doing something like this myself. I would likely have to make mine bigger so that my trees can develop a good root base before moving out. I may try that as a passive deterrent to gophers and rats.

On a side note, some good galvanized netting works great around my grow houses to keep rabbits and rats out. I bury it a few inches deep so dog and human feet don't get tripped up on it. Then when some hungry bugger comes looking for a meal and decides to dig under my fence, he hits a barrier. Very difficult to chew through when it is buried like that. I see frustrated little scrapes around the exterior of my grow house from time to time and I don't loose vegies like I use to- so i know it works.

A grow house BTW, is a simple fenced plot of ground tall enough to keep rabbits and other veg eaters out. It IS needed in the deserts if only to prevent animals from consuming your small scale production vegetables for the moisture alone. Desert rats are FAMOUS for that trick.

Now that someone else has tried the method and succeeded, I will consider it for trees too. Its a little expensive, but nothing compared to what it costs to loose a producing tree!

Thank you for the tip.

YLE (Jeff)
 
Michael Qulek
Posts: 148
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Jeff Rash wrote: Its a little expensive, but nothing compared to what it costs to loose a producing tree!
Yes, it is rather expensive, but what I do is buy the 25 foot roll of 48" hardware cloth. What I do is cut off 12" strips, to get a flat peice 12X48". I lop off the first 10-11" and then curl the 37" piece into a cylinder. You cut the cloth such that the cut ends can be used to lock the seam together. i then place the 11" peice on the bottom, and use the protruding wire ends on the cut side to wire the bottom in place. If you have to pay about 50$ for a 25' roll, that's only 2$ per tree. All the cutting and splicing gets to you after a while. Hands cramp up and lots of little bleeding scratches. BUT, live trees!

BUT, even with wire pots, drain pipe trunks, and chicken wire cylinders 6' tall, I still loose fruit. My Stanley plum had it's first fruit last year. Counted about 25 plums. Watched them week by week, getting bigger and bigger. Then they started turning purple. Then one day, they were ALL gone, each and every one! Think it was raccoons that crawled under the chicken wire.

Oh well, practice makes perfect. Now I know how that saying "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched" came about!
 
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