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THE GOPHER TALE

by Tina

Gophers are the bane to the gardening experience. When I first moved to Descanso, I was excited to have my own large yard for a garden. I thought: "I can grow anything I want! No landlords to tell me what to do." So I made friends with the neighbor who had lived here 20 years or so and asked many questions on what grows, how to go about growing it and when. The first thing I was told was "put everything in wire baskets". I was curious about the reason for going through so much work and trouble to put in a $2.00 plant.

Well, it wasn't long before I found out! Anything with a root is gone overnight. So, ok, I will wire basket my plants to have something to grow in my yard. I bought a role of chicken wire and used wire snips to cut my baskets. If they aren't secured all the way around, gophers will find their way into them. If you don't leave several inches above ground, a gopher will come up out of the ground, climb over and eat his way into the basket (usually starting at the low hanging branches.) Roses are especially yummy to them. If you do make it through the first few years of the plant's life unscathed, don't think you have won! After a while the wire breaks down and rots. I had a five-year-old lilac that was dead one morning. I pulled it up and found the wire was gone and so were the roots of the lilac!

So, my husband has become a gopher hunter. He traps them constantly. One year he trapped over 60. But unfortunately, we live in the country and they keep coming from all the neighbors' acres of unused land that don't have to be "gopherized". So the fight never ends.

Then you have to deal with the squirrels. But that's another story...

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