Monday, May 10, 2010
Gopher It - Baskets & All
Spring time and baskets are rollin’…into the ground. Gophers in the west (certainly around my home) have sprung from the womb and are seeking new territory. This means there’s a mass migration as each gopher tries to stake out it’s new home. Thus many gophers means plenty of damage to roots. In my neck of the woods, gardeners are “planting” wire baskets with the transplants inside. It seems to work, but not all the time. I lost an apple tree to a gopher who simply climbed over the wire and into a protected paradise of yummy rootlets. I spent hours in the USDA Ag. Library (the largest collection of ag. and hort. books in the country) looking for “the answer”. I finally found a report where the researchers wanted to capture live gophers. They built a “V”-shaped live trap with 10-inch-tall wire sides. The gophers simply crawled over the wire. Alas, my futile attempt at a four-inch exposure above the mulch didn’t save the apple tree. However, I learned a lot about roots after I dug up the roots of the apple tree. Nearly 90% were inside the two-foot wide by 24-inch deep wire basket. Most roots where eaten off just as they tried to leave the basket—as seen in the photo on the left. Here is one of the lone roots that escaped the greedy gopher mouths.
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Let me know what you think. Visit my web site to learn about my new book on drip irrigation and other gardening books. Thanks, Robert