Coping with Gophers

On the central coast in California, we have one of the best climates in the world to grow food. However the cost (besides the stupid-high rent) comes with a large amount of gophers. There are 35 species of gophers spread throughout northern and central america, although many people on the east coast of the US and areas with more extreme climates have never heard of them. And unfortunately, the species that live on the central coast can be an extraordinary pest.

5 Efficient Ways To Get Rid Of Pocket Gophers - GardenTipz.com

They are territorial with networks of tunnels, covering up to 2000 square feet. “Gopher densities can be as high as 60 or more per acre in irrigated alfalfa fields or in vineyards.” Within this range, they will harvest as much as possible from underground to bring to their “storage chambers” that can be up to 6 feet deep in the ground. Using their kangaroo pouch cheeks, they are able to bring huge amounts of food at a time – like an entire 4-foot tomatillo plant *heavy, sad sigh*.

If two gophers – strangers to each other – meet in a tunnel, they fight to the death

Gophers – mymotherlode.com

Pest Management

So let them fight.. I suggest encouraging nature to take care of these pests for those growing food, in combination with traps.

Ecological Solutions

As ecological solutions, try installing an owl house for both the biodiversity and the reduction of gophers. Gopher snakes are great too for the land as underground predators. Cats on the other hand, can be a great solution but it will come at the cost of losing a diversity of birds and maybe even chasing off or killing the owls who just moved into the owl house you built.

Gopher predators:

  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Snakes
  • Weasels
  • Cats
  • Coyote
  • Talented dogs
Trapping

For the rest of the pests in your garden, you will need to take matters into your own hands. The “Gopher Hawk” and “Cinch” traps have been a success for us. If you catch one gopher, leave traps out and move them around, at least until no fresh eruptions of soil appear from their boroughs. There will likely be a pair or neighboring gopher tunnels leading to your area since the soil is lighter, more moist, and there is an abundance of food.

Gophers as Game

And, hey, call me crazy, but they are edible game and abundant! I will admit that I have skewered one up myself as an experiment. If trapped and cooked safely, they are not too bad – like a gamey duck!

What gophers avoid (knock on wood)*:

TIP: Plant what you care about near these plants

  1. Rodent-resistant native plants to plant among your crops (see list below)
  2. Gopher spurge
  3. Rhubarb
  4. Garlic
  5. A variety of flowers
  6. Peas and beans
  7. Grain, like oats and corn
  8. Squash
  9. Perennials like berries and trees (after a few years of establishing a woody root system)
Deer and Rodent-Resistent Plants:

Achillea (Yarrow)
Aconitum (Monkshood)
Agastache (Hyssop)
Ajuga (Bugleweed)
Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle)
Antirrhinum (Snapdragons)
Aquilegia (Columbine)
Armeria (Sea Thrift)
Artemesia (Wormwood)
Aruncus (Goatsbeard)
Asarum (Ginger)
Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
Astilbe (False Spirea)
Baptisia (False Indigo)
Bergenia (Heartleaf Bergenia)
Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss)
Calendula (Pot Marigolds)
Celosia (Cock’s Comb)
Centaurea (Cornflower)
Centranthus (Red Valerian)
Cerastium (Snow in Summer)
Ceratostigma (Plumbago)
Chelone (Turtlehead)
Cimicifuga (Bugbane)
Cleome (Spider Flower)
Coleus
Convallaria (Lily of the Valley)
Coreopsis (Tickseed)
Dahlia
Delosperma (Ice Plant)
Delphinium (Larkspur)
Dianthus (Hardy Carnations)
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
Digitalis (Foxglove)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Echinops (Globe Thistle)
Epimedium (Barrenwort)
Eschscholzia (California Poppy)
Euphorbia (Spurge)
Ferns
Filipendula (Meadowsweet)
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
Gallium (Sweet Woordruff)
Gaura (Wand Flower)
Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath)
Helichrysum (Strawflower)
Helleborus (Lenten Rose)
Hypericum (Saint John’s Wort)
Iberis (Candy Tuft)
Iris
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Lamium (Dead Nettle)
Lavandula (Lavender)
Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)
Liatris (Dead Nettle)
Ligularia (Golden Ray)
Limonium (Statice)
Liriope (Lily Turf)
Lobelia (Sweet Alyssum)
Lupinus (Lupine)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not)
Nepata (Catmint)
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Oenothera (Evening Primrose)
Oregano
Ornamental Grass
Pachysandra (Spurge)
Papaver (Poppy)
Perovskia (Russian Sage)
Penstemon (Beard Tongue)
Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox)
Platycodon (Balloon Flower)
Poleonium (Jacob’s Ladder)
Primula (Primrose)
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Rodgersia (Rodger’s Flower)
Rosemary
Rudebeckia 
(Black-Eyed Susan)
Salvia (Sage)
Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)
Solidago (Goldenrod)
Stachys (Lamb’s Ear)
Tagetes (Marigolds)
Tanacetum
Teucrium (Germander)
Thalictrum (Meadow Rue)
Thymus (Thyme)
Tiarella (Foamflower)
Veronica (Speedwell)
Vinca minor (Myrtle)
Zinnias

Shrubs:

Bamboo
Berberis (Barberry)
Budleaia (Butterfly Bush)
Buxus (Boxwood)
Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
Caryopteris (Blue Mist)
Cephalanthus (Buttonbush)
Cephalotaxus (Japanese Plum Yew)
Clethra (Summersweet)
Forsythia
Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)
Hydrangeas
Itea (Virginia Sweetspire)
Kalmia (Mountain Laurel)
Myrica (Bayberry)
Pieris (Andromeda)
Potentilla (Bush Cinquefoil)
Prunus (Cherry Laurel)
Pyracantha (Firethorn)
Spiraea
Syringa (Lilac)
Weigelia
Yucca

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