Monday, November 5, 2012

Man vs Gopher


To really understand this epic struggle for supremacy, we have to consult an Integrated Pest Management expert.  This is a rapidly growing field that seeks to use poison and pesticide only as a last resort.

Carl Spackler, assistant greenskeeper at Bushwood Country Club, specializes in gopher eradication.  When asked his approach, he replied “I have to laugh, because I’ve often asked myself, my foe, my enemy, is an animal.  In order to conquer him, I have to think like an animal, and whenever possible to look like one.  I’ve got to get inside this dude’s pelt”.

If you’re dealing with bugs or mildew, thinking about the root cause of the problem makes sense.  You might be able to correct something before using a pesticide or herbicide.

When it comes to gophers, don’t mess around.  We tried planting one section of Wildwood Farm three times, each time thinking the gopher wouldn’t bother the plants.  Wrong. 

This time, we’re planting perennials that have a scent, like Nepeta and Salvia nemerosa.  These two plants are gopher resistant.  Resistant as in the enemy will leave them alone once they are established.  Getting them established is the trick.  Gophers prefer local, organic, fresh roots.  We wrapped chicken wire around the roots and folded in the bottom.  Crafting a special basket isn’t necessary. The roots will find their way outside the wire.  We like the salvia because it will carpet an entire section with purple blooms.

We went the extra mile and planted onion too.  Not just any onion, but one of the ornamental varieties.  We get 3-4” drumstick purple blooms in the spring and the gopher gets a whiff of onion.  Allium sphaerocephalon never sounded so good.  

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