Our community has been growing our own vegetables and fruits organically on an acre near the coast north of San Francisco since 1970. After finding Gaia's Garden six years ago, we're stopped tilling and now grow vegetables in beds mulched with compost; we mulch with wood chip on the aisles and under the fruit trees, and we've added areas for beneficial flowers and plants under trees and around vegetables.
Pocket gophers are and have always been our worst challenge; for instance one ate a 60' bed of lettuce last spring.
As gopher deterrents we have planted 800 daffodil bulbs around the fruit trees; planted euphorbias and "gopher getter" trefoil for their poisonous roots, and we spread mole max each time we replant a vegetable bed. We've put elderberry twigs with our transplants with some positive effect (ala John Jeavons).
However, this year, we would not have had what we needed for our food without trapping regularly for about 10 weeks. Few of us are willing to trap; for us it isn't a sustainable means of control.
Putting wire under the beds isn't feasible for such a large garden, besides, it rusts out.
Look around you to see what plants are generally unaffected by gophers. Go dig up that wild licorice you see so prevalent on the California landscape. Take the roots and soak them in ethonal, vodka works fine. Theres a nor cal distillery that produces organic rum, Humboldt distillery I think its called, you can use that. Soak the roots for about a week, then strain it. Do the same thing with cinamon bark. Take the resulting liquids and mix it 50/50 with organic evaporated cane juice. Ferment ginger, and garlic in sugar water, strain and combine with your alcohol extracts. Start adding no more than a tablespoon a gallon of water and water your garden with this. Spray your plants with it too. Watch what happens Watch what DOESN't happen.
What a beautiful garden you have. Ground squirrels are the critters that have done the most damage in my garden. They are similar to gophers in that they tunnel under everything and eat it up (except for potatoes, for some reason.) I have tried noise makers, putting water in their holes, and, as suggested by a farmer from California, flares. The flares, when lit and placed in a tunnel opening, and when all of the exits you can find have been filled in, emit cyanide gas that puts the critters to sleep, FOREVER!. This was a last straw effort as I did not really want to kill anything. Problem is that there are more of them than I could ever reach this way. It helped for about a week,
Most of our gardens are raised, about waist high, 4 X 4 wooden boxes with 12 inch sides set up on stacks of pallets. We had some luck with putting 12 inches of metal sheeting around the top edges. yhis kept most of them out but our game camera caught one bold ground squirrel sitting up in a box one night. I also found snowshoe rabbit tracks there. The only thing that actually works for us is, wait for it, bathtubs set on cement blocks, 2 high at each corner. No critter has yet been able to climb them. Actually, they have left my tomatoes alone as well. I plant tomatoes in stacks of tires, again about waist high. I fill them with dirt and anything that might be compostable, including chicken straw, kitchen scraps, etc.
Given our 90 day growing season I cannot afford to start over, and over, and over. Deer are also an issue but adequate fencing keeps them out, usually. Stock water tanks would probably work as well as bathtubs but they cost money and old bathtubs are often free Because we garden on the roof of our earth sheltered home everything in the garden has to be hauled uphill. For this reason fiberglass bathtubs are better for us than cast iron. I wish that I could plant things in the ground, and certainly my garden of tubs is not beautiful, but gradually we are gaining some food security.
Best wishes to you.
Each generation has its own rendezvous with the land... by choice or by default we will carve out a land legacy for our heirs. (Stewart Udall)
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