Market Garden Update: Can’t Take No More

Gophers. Rat-sized trouble makers that will drive you to the brink of insanity. The real problem with gophers is that everything about them is out of your control. It’s difficult to know where they’ll strike, it’s unreasonable to even guess at how many you’re dealing with, and it’s impossible to know if you were successful at getting even one. Challenge accepted.

a whole lotta maters

And here’s why. I planted this row of tomatoes which started out at 50 feet and has now dwindled down to 35 feet. 35 feet!

no mo' maters, too bad

Aaargh! The little buggers.

mo' maters! yay!

So I moved the next two rows farther out (away from gopher city) and I hope that we can keep them from reaching it. I must do all I can to protect these two sections of organic beefsteak tomatoes and red bell peppers. The covered section is just about ready to be unveiled. The little babies are getting stronger every day and what a shame it would be to lose even one to a nasty gopher.

heard of stake and tomatoes? get it?

But I decided to take my mind off the gophers for a bit and turn my attention to the tomatoes that did survive the attack. I could see they needed support so I used posts and string to tie them up. I saw this method used by a fabulous family on youtube.com that I follow – and so I copied them. I added the posts every 3 plants…

even tomatoes get a weave now and then!

…and then starting at one end, I weaved the string through the plants, wrapped the string around the next post and weaved it back the other way. Another row of string will be added above this as the plants grow taller, and so on. It’s simple and we’re using supplies we already have. Pretty cool.

plan of attack

But I had to get back to the issue at hand. By this time, the gopher mounds seemed to be heading toward my potatoes which wasn’t cool. (hand goes on hip, finger waves in the air, head does a roll) The hubby could see that I just couldn’t take it any more, so he heads out to the garden to help. Like a knight in shining armor, he shows up just in time (before my head exploded) with several traps he bought at the hardware store. He dug up one of the tunnels and got two traps set up and ready. He attached strings to each trap and staked them so he’d remember where he laid them. He placed them at least half-way down the holes in either direction and covered the whole thing back up (loosely). The next morning we went back to check on it.

a successful mission

Got ’em. We have found that this is one of the most effective ways to deal with them. I would still consider the underground “fencing” idea, where you dig a 3-4 foot trench and stick in gopher wire vertically; shutting them out and fixing the problem forever. But until then, trapping is a great solution.

lovely potatoes

I kissed the hubby, expressed my gratitude and turned my attention to the potatoes. With the gopher trouble subsiding, I now have the emotional strength and mental focus to hill them with a little bit more compost. I read (somewhere) that while you can hill them with only straw or grass, the potatoes don’t grow very well that way. So I used what was left of the compost pile (which is practically just soil by now) and was able to get about half-way up the plants.

perty colors

I hilled them the rest of the way with grass that’ll serve as a sunblock. (potatoes + sun exposure = green skin) This is the prettiest stuff I’d ever seen… purchased it at the feed store. One day, I hope to grow my own grass for mulch, etc. I think it’ll be worth it since the price has gone up in recent years, and not to mention that you only really know what you’re getting when you do it yourself. I watered the lot down and it stays nice and moist underneath. The plants seem happy enough.

can't escape

In other market garden news, we harvested a whole lotta garlic scapes which are delish! I am so glad I went with hardneck right from the start. (I wonder how hard it would be to find a good restaurant to sell them to?) I am now waiting on the garlic harvest which should happen in a few weeks or so. Yum. I also have a bunch of onions that are ready to pull up and a bunch that still have a way to go. Does that mean I can’t count on one big onion harvest each year? Do onions just grow when they feel like it? (shrug)

So that’s the happenings around here. My head didn’t explode with frustration over the gophers, I’m doing a little harvesting here and there, and all is well. I was going to include updates on the chicken garden too but there is a lot to tell, so I’ll write a separate post. Look for that soon, ttfn!

Resource: Good advice for gopher control