There's A Gopher In The Hole!

Getting rid of gophersCredit: Xandert

My family and I made a little bed in the early spring to try to accommodate part of my forthcoming collection of spring plants. My husband and daughter did the digging whilst I mixed the soil up with compost. Before returning it to the hole, however, we lined the hole with gopher wire from the hardware store to protect all my anticipated plants and save us from getting rid of gophers later.

I’ve been planting my little bed over the last couple of months and over the weekend I completed the bed with half a dozen more Lisianthus seedlings. Every morning I step into my little garden to check on every single plant in the back garden and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

This morning was no different except that the sun was actually shining for a change which put an extra spring in my step.

Imagine my horror when I bent over to check my new seedlings only to see that giveaway mound of soil right next to them and right by the stem of my Desert Campanula!  I looked around and saw a couple more mounds across the bed. How was this possible? How did the gopher get through the wire?

They say that gardening is not for the squeamish but I am a very squeamish gardener. I am impeded by a distinct reluctance to kill any creature. It’s taken years to come to terms with stamping on snails. In fact, yesterday evening I came across a whole collection of snails feeding on some very questionable material on the path, obviously left by a passing animal. Because they weren’t on my plants, I didn’t have the heart to stamp on them. (Nor did I want to stamp on the questionable material). By the way, did you know that a collection of snails is called a walk or an escargatoire?

When I came across Hawkeye caterpillars or hard backed beetles in Zimbabwe I would call the closest child to come and take them away from the area. They were good sports until they got old enough to become squeamish too. So I am not the one to deal with getting rid of gophers.

Getting rid of gophers, gopher holeCredit: Kathy RM

Just after lunch I was taking photos of bees when the gopher boldly stuck its head out of a hole at the front of the bed and I realized he had simply hopped the little fence and burrowed into the nice, soft soil. Drama ensued as I called for help to dispatch the wretched creature which just stayed there, surveying the scene, munching on a wild mallow that had self seeded in my bed. That’s how I knew it was a gopher and not a mole because moles eat insects, gophers are strict vegetarians.

My daughter brought out the big spade but I stopped her from using that as she would have dug up all my Lisianthus as well as the gopher. My husband showed very little interest in helping me out and took some vocal urging to try to grab it with a small garden fork (I can’t believe I don’t own a decent pitchfork!), throwing up a couple of Alyssum plants as he did so, but the gopher ducked back into the hole.

Getting rid of gophers Campanula after gopher attackCredit: KathyRM

In the meantime, my Campanula is looking the worse for wear and I fear its roots are eaten or it has no soil left around them. What’s next? I could just dig up all my plants but don’t have anywhere to put them, having run out of pots and other bed space. Aside from that, the gopher might just jump out at me whilst I’m digging and I’ll have an instant heart attack!

A wonderful old lady down the road once told me that she pierces gophers through the heart with a carving fork and I thought that was pretty barbaric. But now I have mine lying next to the bed, waiting for an opportune moment (and a willing husband) to do the deed. I have my doubts that the two will coincide. The next best thing is to borrow a gopher trap from someone but I can’t bear the thought of coming out to find a gopher with a broken leg looking up at me. Then I’ll have to take it to the animal rescue center.

The third option is to try to catch it live and drop it off in a field near by but I don’t know how well that will go down with my neighbors who are all from farming stock and have little sympathy for my squeamish behavior. Perhaps I have an entire bed of gopher resistant plants and, having eaten the mallows and my poor Campanula, the gopher will wait until the coast is clear and just leave, never to return. Perhaps it’s already run for its life as I type this. I can only hope.

Gopher Eradicator.Credit: KathyRM

I’ve now read up on getting rid of gophers and, while none are fool-proof, caster oil granules seem to be the latest deterrent, along with poisoning them (and any other wildlife in the area), gassing them with exhaust fumes, planting sonic rods in the holes, drowning them, choking them with juicy fruit gum and catching a gopher snake to pop down the hole! I’m hoping that my new feline friend who has taken to dropping in on me will devour it as a tasty treat but, since this gopher eradicator spends most of his time asleep on my bed, I won’t hold my breath.