Do Not Use Dynamite to Blowup Garden Gophers

grendel2As ugly as Grendel, my garden’s gopher invasion has fueled a full on war against these mini monsters of the soil. Three of four beautiful kale plants-gone; two blossoming pea vines — history; all artichokes — devoured; and the final blow was my most beautiful yellow-flowered vine that I have babied for the last year through drought and deer attack.

Like the Middle East, this garden vs. gophers is a historical war. My next door neighbor just nukes the furry beasts when he finds them. But, I, Ms. Organic, won’t bait them with poison, so they tunnel under our property lines and into paradise—my garden.

A local feral cat helped me out for a bit-but he also thought my garden beds a perfect place to potty. He’d leave behind the most gawd-awful guck for me to discover while weeding. So I added that to the ongoing catastrophic garden events.

Mind you, this is a teeny, tiny little garden in my teeny, tiny south-facing yard. When I managed my near one-acre garden patch in New Mexico, I didn’t battle half of what I battle now (except for squash beetles—but that’s a whole other story).

The big garden was never fenced. This garden is. But the neighborhood deer float over the fence like Santa’s reindeer. They feast on my roses, striping them of their leaves as if “Let Me Entertain You” plays in the background.

A few birds sing for my seedlings, and then rip them from the soil, that is, if the snails don’t slime the seedlings first. Raccoons patiently await for late summer’s squash—a rare delicacy in my oceanside garden.

And it goes without saying that this wretched drought challenges every thing I know about gardening.

But I prepared for drought in February. What I thought a touch of brilliance as I completely dug out old garden beds, lined them with chicken wire, then built charming stone boxes filled with fresh soil, compost, manure, etc. is now the focal point of this full on war—complete with my own version of mustard gas.
Grendal Gopher chewed right through the chicken wire, luxuriated in the gentle new composty soil and destroyed my assumed brilliance. The three-foot diameter artichoke plants, thick with fruit, were the first to go into gopher’s gullet.

Last evening when I went for some kale for dinner and discovered one plant left, I recollected World War 1’s legacy, mustard gas. I buzzed the garage door open, found a trowel, followed my nose to the cat’s sandbox, dug deep into the ammonia-reeking lumps of clay, filled a bucket with the first ingredients in chemical warfare, marched upstairs for the gallon of white vinegar, marched back downstairs and into the garage for a shovel, dug into the garden box until I found Grendel Gopher’s tunnel, I chanted, “Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble,” as I dumped the cat’s pissy clay into the hole, and then poured vinegar over it. “SSSSSSS,” went the mix.

Voila! Take that Grendel!

The surviving kale remains this morning, as does one blossoming pea plant and the cilantro. Did Grendal retreat?

Like a good soldier I remain vigilant and refilled my weaponry knowledge this morning, with this one piece of advice from a website: “Do not use a dynamite stick to blow up these rodents, as it does not work one bit.”

I feel Carl Spackler’s angst.

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