A gopher problem at the pea patch

I'm cc'd on an e-mail discussion going on among the gardeners at the pea patch about how to deal with a gopher problem. Here are some excerpts.

It starts with Garden Manager Bill writing to the city liason at the Department of Park and Rec for guidance.
"We are having some problems with gophers. Someone suggested pouring old spice men's cologne down an open gopher hole. I did get some old spice, but only the spray kind (that's all Walgreens had). Worth a try. The gopher is doing some serious damage to one of the plots. If this cologne does not drive the animal away, what is Park and Rec's position on using castor oil down a gopher hole? It is not a pesticide, but it is a poison, although a 'natural' one."

Park and Rec Liason responds:
"I do not recommend the use of Castor bean oil/seeds/plants as a control for gophers or moles. There is no scientific evidence that proves it works as a rodenticide, but only as a temporary repellent.

The use of caustic lyes, gum(Juicy-Fruit), after shave lotion (that's a new one), flooding, even the planting of Euphorbaceae are not recognized as successful methods to control pocket gophers.

Why incorporate a noxious substance or poisonous plant material into a Community Garden that is frequented by children, pets and native fauna? You run the risk of affecting non target mammals and birds.

The tried and true control, trapping(Macabee traps) is the recommended method for gopher control."

Frustrated Gardener joins the discussion:
"Thank you, Bill. I'm hoping to come by later today or tomorrow to do a gopher check. We did lay down some netting as deep as we could get it to help protect the starts. I hear from several sources that there are some little battery-operated, frequency-emitting gizmos that really do keep the gophers at bay. Apparently one or two of them would be sufficient to keep our whole garden gopher free. They cost about $15 to $25 apiece. If netting and Old Spice don't do the trick, is that something we could consider? I know Esther and I have already spent too many dollars on starts and seeds for plants that are being devoured before they even have a chance." (my emphasis)

Finally, Concerned Gardener:
"Hey, let's let the fox pee have a chance. Should be arriving soon! I wonder if the frequency-emitting gizmos would disturb other non-garden destroying wildlife..."


On one hand, I want to chime in and make some (perhaps) more effective resources available to these people.

On the other hand, it's kind of fun to watch the spectacle unfold.

Besides, what is there to say about gophers that hasn't already been said? If you have gophers, you know what you have to do. Right? The rest is just pussyfooting around. It's not in my nature to complain about people's fun.

And, besides (again). If I keep my gardening resources and IPM practices confidential, I can enjoy the satisfaction of having the most productive and best looking beds in the community garden!

But that's not really the spirit of community gardening, is it?

What would you do?


Delphine said...

** looking in a dictionnary to find what a gopher is to give her opinion to her american friend **

chuck b. said...


Gopher; see also, mole.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

One must know what your IPM practices are before commenting or passing judgment on them. I think the Park and Rec response was pretty direct. Trap it.

What would I do? I'll let you know after I live with other mammalian varmits for a season or two. Here I have special candy bars for the rats.

JvA said...

I just live with the moles in our yard.

Hey, Chuck, I figured out what that castor-bean-looking plant in Ciscoe Morris's yard is. But you have to visit my blog to find out.

chuck b. said...

I'm not soliciting reader opinions on *my* IPM practices. As I said in the post, if you have gophers you know what you have to do.

I'm asking if you would comment on the methods of my co-gardeners at the pea patch, or just let them be.

Matthew said...

Mail order fox pee? You have to let them be; and keep blogging.

Karen H said...

Some of your pictures look like they could have been taken here in Charleston, SC! Enjoying your blog!

chuck b. said...

Karen, that's quite a compliment. I spent a few days in Charleston at an arts festival some years ago; what a lovely town!

Matthew, you get it!

lisa said...

Castor oil really DOES work, rather long-term for me. (Keeps them from burrowing under my deck.) However, if food is the motivator, it may take harsher controls-shoot them!

Annie in Austin said...

Darn it- I always hoped the rolled-up Juicy Fruit would work... mostly because it was so weird that I kind of wanted it to work.

I'm too lazy to make two comments, so will also say that's some wild looking E. sideroxylon tree int the next post. Chuck, we have Southern Wax Myrtle here which is a workhorse in the landscape, reasonably attractive but not flashy. The Pink Ironbark looks like a prop for a show in Las Vegas.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose