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gophers and moles in forest garden

 
Teretta Owen
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I got the book today " Secret Garden of Survival". I love all the info in it but need more info that wasn't included. We live in Oklahoma and have LOTS!!! of gophers and moles that are devastating our lawn and previous garden. We pulled everything up that was in the previous garden such as asparagus and strawberries, and put landscaping wire under it and replanted, but I want to plant a food forest. I am afraid the gophers and moles will devastate it like they did my last garden in pulling plants under the ground and eating them and destroying the rest. Is there any way to run them off naturally? I have put out traps and shot some but haven't made a dent on their activity and destruction. If I put the effort into moving trees and grapes to the new location I would be heart broke and very irritated if it happened again. I also want to know if starting from a clean slate means removing the grass from the top of the soil. We don't have a tree forest to remove but instead have a level lawn to turn into a food forest.
Thanks for the dream of a food forest cause I know we are gonna need it
 
Rick Austin
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Teretta Owen wrote:I got the book today " Secret Garden of Survival". I love all the info in it but need more info that wasn't included. We live in Oklahoma and have LOTS!!! of gophers and moles that are devastating our lawn and previous garden. We pulled everything up that was in the previous garden such as asparagus and strawberries, and put landscaping wire under it and replanted, but I want to plant a food forest. I am afraid the gophers and moles will devastate it like they did my last garden in pulling plants under the ground and eating them and destroying the rest. Is there any way to run them off naturally? I have put out traps and shot some but haven't made a dent on their activity and destruction. If I put the effort into moving trees and grapes to the new location I would be heart broke and very irritated if it happened again. I also want to know if starting from a clean slate means removing the grass from the top of the soil. We don't have a tree forest to remove but instead have a level lawn to turn into a food forest.
Thanks for the dream of a food forest cause I know we are gonna need it


Teretta:

The beginning of the book talks about how to set up the garden in the first place... setting up the proper infrastructure is going to make all the difference in getting everything to work right. Yes, you will have to remove the grass- by scraping it up/ rolling it (you could use it for sod someplace else)...and the cheapest and fastest way to do that will be with a tractor with a blade or backhoe or other equipment that is cheap compared to trying to do all that by hand. (and you can get it done all at once that way -instead of piece meal)

Then you really should put in terraces., swales, and berms and that is also something best suited for heavy equipment... (See my Infrastructure Chapter 8.) Once you remove the top soil (and save it to be spread back on the ground after you set up the terraces) you will dig down into the clay and create the terraces/berms/ swales... When you do that you will destroy all the holes and habitat for those gophers in one fell swoop.

You will "eliminate" them in the process, or they will run off and find someone else to bother.

The backhoe/tractor can then put back the top soil, and after that, then spread out some good decomposed mulch on top of everything.

My backhoe guy - for the entire 1/2 acre garden- cost me $30/hr and he did the entire project in one day-a total of 10 hours- so the whole thing cost me $300. It was a huge time savings and it enabled me to start planting right away.

After you get the infrastructure in place, my book also has a whole chapter on natural pest control that will then keep those critters at bay...

Fencing that area in wouldn't hurt eventually, and having a couple of good garden watch dogs that will chase out anything that tries to get through, around, under or over the fence, would help as well.
 
Teretta Owen
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I don't understand how to put in terraces, or swales if the ground is level. How far down are you talking about digging? We actually have access to a tractor my dad is letting us borrow to move some mulch that we got from a tree cutting company and are putting it down like Paul says in his You Tube video about Back to Eden Gardening. Thanks for any info. In your book I only read about good bugs and bad bugs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, but nothing about moles, voles, or gophers. I'll have to look again. I didn't see that the book said anything about removing grass either, but instead a clean slate. I'm just a goober I guess, but I do want to do this and do it right.
 
Julie Mo
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Hi, since you already have your garden started, it depends how wore out you are from losing to the gophers, et.al

I lived in SoCal five years and would find new gopher holes in the yard every time I blinked. I Tried everything, including the electronic thingamajigs to get rid of the gophers. I even tried filling their tunnels with water. Which wasn't in the short supply it is now, out there.

Finally a neighbor the next block over suggested not chewed sticks of Juicy Fruit gum. The sweet smell attracts the gophers, they chew they swallow but they can't digest the gum and pretty soon they have gone on to gopher heaven. They should have left when I tried to drown them out.

I would think it would work on moles and voles but if you live in a rural area, good luck wiping out or greatly reducing their population. I also read somewhere on line there is a certain time of year to treat their tunnels and reduce the populations.

Good luck, if moles and voles have any other purpose but to chew the roots off good grasses and plants, somebody needs to inform me. It won't change my mind about them but I will have at least learned something
 
Rick Austin
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Teretta Owen wrote:I don't understand how to put in terraces, or swales if the ground is level. How far down are you talking about digging? We actually have access to a tractor my dad is letting us borrow to move some mulch that we got from a tree cutting company and are putting it down like Paul says in his You Tube video about Back to Eden Gardening. Thanks for any info. In your book I only read about good bugs and bad bugs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, but nothing about moles, voles, or gophers. I'll have to look again. I didn't see that the book said anything about removing grass either, but instead a clean slate. I'm just a goober I guess, but I do want to do this and do it right.


Teretta:

My book does talk about using fish scale swales if you have flat land...terracing is optimal, and also helps you use land that otherwise would not be thought of as "usable" garden land...

I did a consulting job for a guy in OK, and he had relatively flat land, but it did have a bit of a slope, and I recommended terraces that were wide and not that deep to allow for water collection for the perennial plants.

The terraces/berms also act as a form of Hugelkulture, in that we put old trees, logs, debris under the berms, to not only build up the soil, but to add long lasting nutrients to otherwise "dead soil", like clay.

In the book about a number of ways to eliminate rodents... one is using hot pepper flakes...I also discuss in the Welcome Back Rick Austin thread some tips for pest control here on permies.
 
Becky Proske
Posts: 43
Location: Wisconsin, USA (zone 4b)
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food preservation tiny house trees wofati
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Hello Teretta,

I once heard that moles would leave an area if we planted castor beans. We tried it for a couple seasons and it seemed to work and logical when considering the toxicity of this plant. It might not be a solution for everyone, especially with free range animals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricinus

The best way I've found to kill grass for a new planting is to heavily mulch the area the first year and plant the following year. My favorite is a thick layer of fresh lawn clippings. If done in the heat of summer the grass clippings will cook the unwanted plants underneath, decomposes rather quickly and leave a patch of ground that is much more manageable. After that I keep mulching with what ever I can find: straw, leaves, more lawn clippings, etc. It takes some planning ahead, but it really saves energy.

Becky
 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Teretta, I have had good luck with finding a native perennial weed/plant that the gophers leave alone. Make sure it doesn't have any growth inhibitors connected with it. For me it is curly dock. It has low green leaves and a tall spike of seeds. I clip the seed stalk and leave the lower leaves to maintain it. I plant them on either side of a fruit tree, about 3 feet apart among vegetables and in the greenhouse. I save some of the seeds to spread them around to other parts of the garden. They are easy to get rid of if they reseed themselves.

I am not comfortable encouraging native grasses as they are hard to maintain, and some, like timothy, have growth inhibitors and will encircle a plant rapidly, are hard to pull out, take too much maintenance.

I have used daffodil bulbs to encircle fruit bushes (maybe 5 around a 1 gallon rootball) and fruit trees, planting them at least at hand depth. They are poisonous and gophers leave them alone, but they aren't always available. They are also quite drought tolerant, and are one of the first things to appear in spring, so they are a nice addition.

I see mole trails circling around in my greenhouse sometimes, but they avoid the densely planted vegetables and that curly dock. I walk on their tunnels to also discourage them from putting them back again, which may go on for a while, but it's the weed/plant that really discourages them.

Hawk poles with a height of 12 feet/ 4 meters in addition to a nearby evergreen tree, are another good helper. Leave a tall tree within 100 feet/30 meters of where you see gophers and moles. Hawks and owls want to take their prey back to a leafy tree to eat it, so they need some nearby protection, but they will sit on tall poles to wait for the gopher or mole. I have tall gate poles on either side of my gate, and I often find owl barf there, so I know they are on those poles at night. Try to keep dogs and cats out of the garden so the birds of prey can hunt there comfortably. That also allows for smaller birds to pick through mulch and eat bugs, BTW

I was once standing in the door of a motorhome talking on the phone, watching a gopher pushing dirt up into a mound about 30 feet/10 meters away. I didn't realize there was a hawk over my head on the TV antennae of the motorhome who was also watching, and suddenly it shot straight down and grabbed the gopher by the neck, held it down, looked around for a safe place to take it. So they know about gopher mounds and what to watch for, if they feel safe enough to swoop down to get it.
 
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