Garden Corner:

Effective gopher control

By Dan Eskelson
Reader Columnist

One of the most persistent and damaging pests in our landscapes is the gopher. When we first moved to our property, it was home to literally dozens of gophers and ground squirrels. I really don’t know what has happened to the ground squirrels over the years. Perhaps they have moved on to more remote areas. But if they still were digging tunnels through my yard, control would have to take a violent turn.gopher

gopherSimilarly, gopher control has evolved from very passive to very active control. In the spirit of nonviolence, we had previously attempted to control these damaging critters by flooding their runs regularly. I believe all we gained with this technique was clean gophers.

Then we were convinced by advertising that a regular, low frequency sound would disturb the gophers and cause them to leave the area. To cover all our gardens, I invested over $150 in these “sonic gopher chasers” and inserted them in the ground at prescribed intervals. This time all we gained was gophers who could appreciate a sonic concerto.

The next rage was an “all natural” liquid that was “guaranteed” to repel the critters when sprayed over the areas with a hose end sprayer. The active ingredient, Castor Oil, certainly didn’t repel the pests—I believe all we gained was some very healthy gophers.

Speaking of healthy gophers, during one of our early years here, we lost an entire 50 foot row of garlic to these ravenous pests. So much for gopher control!

OK, I finally figured out that if I wanted to maintain my sanity, my blood pressure, my vegetables and my ornamentals, my gopher control methods would have to change dramatically. I forced myself to drop the attitude of nonviolence (pertaining to gophers, at least), and I purchased a pair of MacAbee gopher traps. These sinister looking, and potentially dangerous, mechanisms were the final answer to the gopher problem. Finally, real gopher control.

It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but after a short apprenticeship, I was achieving a capture almost every time I set the traps. I still haven’t become insensitive to the act of killing these rodents, but protecting my food supply is the highest priority. I imagine it will all be worked out in the end.

Check this link for tips on using the Macabee gopher traps:

We have been experimenting with a  relatively new product that seems to be repel gophers effectively. Persistent insertion of these units actually “herds” the gopher away from the garden area. It is a small biodegradable tube that contains concentrated garlic oil. Surprisingly, even though the gophers love fresh garlic, the sulfur compounds in the concentrated oil drives them away. The only maintenance after initial application has been re- inserting the few that the gophers pop up out of their runs.

We have not yet added this product to our web store, but we certainly will if interest is shown. Let us know.

Garden Questions?

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