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April 14, 2017 at 3:39 am #450
I’ve been finding little trails of raised soil running all along the sides and through the middle of my raised vegetable bed. When I poke the little furrows with a stick, I can feel the empty tube where the mole tunnels run, about 9 inches under the surface of my garden soil. One of my recent transplants seemed to keep needing more and more water than all of the other plants around it. It finally withered and died. I’m wondering what a Sausalito gardener should do about a mole problem! Do those solar-powered noise-making stakes work? Is a chemical the answer? Traps seem like a big deal… Help!
I thought it was all over when the RACCOONS came too! They tore up a rectangular planter box that was in my backyard. Luckily there wasn’t anything planted in it, but I’d just filled it with fresh soil. They threw the dirt everywhere. They also ripped up my lawn. Please. What’s going on?
– PesteredApril 14, 2017 at 3:42 am #451
You are not alone. All of this March and April rain has loosened topsoil and brought worms and other soil dwelling insects out of their usual hiding places in your lawn and garden. Because of this, our insectivorous Sausalito moles and raccoons have been especially active as well. Moles are not after your plants, but rather looking to dine on your earthworms and other good and bad bugs that live in your soil. Moles burrow around looking for bugs, and the tunnels that they leave behind act like waterslides, diverting irrigation water meant for your plants, elsewhere.
An otherwise healthy plant, slowly dying without any signs of demise other than possible lack of water, even if you are watering the heck out of the thing, may be dying because of a mole. To add to the waterslide theory, their tunnels can also destroy root systems all together. Dang moles with their cute little faces and strange little hands!!
Raccoons, with their little masks, are cute too! darn pests! They too have been searching for worms and grubs, this time in your lawn, tearing it up along the way. As for your planter box, perhaps fresh compost in your new potting soil may not have fully decomposed to the point of smelling just earthy, but rather had that irresistible rotting-food or manure funk that smelled too much like a rotting garbage can. “Yumm-meee” says the raccoon!
There are solutions. Modern day thinking and good practice, is to steer away from harmful chemicals. There are wonderful organic alternatives out there, so better to not put neighborhood pets, bees, good bugs, snakes, birds, human babies, our watershed, or our Bay, at risk.
Here’s what I’d suggest for the moles: If you are planting a new raised bed, or have plans to redesign an old one, make sure to lay down rust-resistant hardware fabric (wire fencing that’s got smaller-gauge holes than chicken wire, available at Goodman’s in Strawberry) at the bottom and up the sides of of your box. This physical barrier will keep moles out. Clearly, you’re dealing with this problem right now, and want a quick solution, so rebuilding your bed won’t help. Sprays and repellants are quick go-to’s, but even the all-natural ones work by killing the moles’ food source, including good earthworms in your soil. You don’t want to do that. So I would spring for a trap! They’re harder work, and you’ll probably have to handle a dead-rodent at some point, but they’re a surefire way of knowing you’ve eliminated the pest for good, and you avoid damaging the ecosystem. There are countless YouTube videos on how to set and place a mole trap. Traps are available for around $15 and are reusable.
As for the raccoons, honestly I’d wait out the rainy season and the damage will probably pass. If you’re determined, Critter Ridder is an all-natural repellant derived from chili peppers that irritates mammal senses and may steer them clear. It’s available at Goodmans and Sloat. If your dog or cat shares that lawn with your pests however, pet sinuses will be irritated too, so be careful.
Does anyone else have tips or tricks? Experience setting mole traps? Please chime in, correct me, help out a neighbor!!
- This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Olivia. Reason: Type-o
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