The Experimental College Community Garden is a fantastic place to grow vittles, but there is a persistent threat of gardening labors being consumed by veggie thieves. These capers are pulled off by all sorts of pests, but an especially difficult variety are the gophers. I've written a blog post about the where, how, and why of doing battle with these vermin.
The basic truths are:
i. we work hard at gardening, invest countless hours and most of our measly salaries to produce fresh fruits and veggies,
ii. despite the good karma we'd receive for spreading our wealth, the primary intended recipients of our labors include ourselves, with over-abundance going to friends, family, and the compost, in that order, and
iii. when the produce is taken unfairly, it causes much aggravation, gnashing of teeth, and high blood pressure.
The pest pressures in the garden are high, and various organic methods are available to deal with some of them, copper for slugs, diatomes for bugs, netting for birds, and fences for humans, but the hardest to fight are the gophers, since they travel underground and can wreck an entire bed of garlic before you even notice their work. As such, the best option is the trap and destroy any gophers operating near a garden at the first sign, before they can move into the hard-earned veggies.
Methods to the Madness
The best method of destroying gophers is to fight them with mechanical traps on their own turf. In order to effect this strategy, one must dig down and find a sizable gopher thoroughfare and set the killing machines therein. Often, by digging back down a tunnel which has arrived at the surface, one can fine the main route. Other times, probing with a long, skinny bamboo stake can help discern where to dig. In any event, once the main-line is located, a hole is dug large enough to easily slide a trap in each direction along the route, thereby insuring that the gopher will be caught coming from either direction. This is the most important part, once an active tunnel has been found, then the traps often work very well.
The most effective tool I've used so far is the macabee trap, a wire based contraption that has a spring-loaded set of jaws which clamp shut on the beastie when the trigger is pushed. The jaws very neatly dispatch and hold the gopher. These traps work best when placed as far down an active tunnel as possible, or about 6 inches or more from an opening. Other equipment include shovels, trowels, gloves, and wire or twine to tie off the trap (gophers have been known to carry the traps back into their holes during their death dance).
That's all there is to it, check the blog post for more detailed information on tools and techniques, or to check in on my gopher tally.
Happy Hunting Everybody!!