Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gopher Tales

I planted a late winter/ early spring vegetable garden of Brassica and lettuce leaf vegetables in early February. I was just beginning to reap the rewards, harvesting Swiss chard and kale for my vegetable soups. But then I noticed that the four of each plant began to reduce one by one by one each day. I had four lovely kale plants, and then  . . .

It didn't take that long to figure out that I had a gopher. The Swiss cheese like holes and the magically disappearing veggies confirmed it. I even watched it happen! It was surreal - like a silly cartoon. This can't be happening, I thought, my cabbage just got sucked down a hole! Hubby was ready to declare war on the pesky creature after it started munching on his precious collards. Unfortunately, setting up shop on the roof sniper-style is not acceptable in San Diego. So, we tried and old wives' tale trick: Bounce dryer sheets. Supposedly the little buggers hate the scent. But my plants kept disappearing. So, we tried gopher repellent made mostly from castor oil. We would never introduce actual poison into our garden ecosystem because we do not want predators up the food chain to suffer and / or die. Too many times, rodent predators such as owls, hawks, and neighborhood cats have died terribly due to eating a poisoned gopher or rodent. Please, please resist the urge to got to this extreme. These predatory animals are a gardener's best friend in the war against vermin. Please do not put them at risk!  

Earl on gopher patrol among the cabbages.
Frustrated, I spoke to my neighbor about the vegetable thievery. He recommend that I use his cat, Earl, as pest abatement, citing the fact that he had already killed all the gophers on his family's property, as well as a property belonging to a neighbor. I hired the worthy assassin, promising payment of one handful of kibble now and one later. I don't know if Earl got the gopher or if the repellent did its duty, but the gratuitous vegetable murders have abated in the last couple of weeks. The early spring, cool season vegetables have run their course and have since been removed in favor of the warm weather offerings: tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash. Either the gophers aren't interested in them or they have moved on to other pastures. I have a theory that they don't like plants from the nightshade family, specifically tomatoes, peppers, and basil. There was not a nibble on those plants during the same period of the Brassica assaults. I continue to stay vigilant, looking for tell-tale gopher holes and chewed plant stems and I continue my overtures of friendship to the neighborhood cats.

No comments:

Post a Comment