• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • jordan barton
  • r ranson
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • thomas rubino
  • Beau Davidson

Raised death bed

 
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is one of my new raised beds. I built it as a hugel beet.  I dug into the ground 2 feet.  Filled the bottom with old almond wood.  Then native soil.  Then branches and small pieces of wood, N soil, compostable stuff (kitchen scraps, leaves, left over garden stems etc), n soil, wood chips n soil, organic compost, organic soil, organic composted chicken manure, more organic compost/organic soil until full.  I planted late. I planted a zucchini on each end, a petunia, a lunchbox pepper.  Planted cantaloupe seeds, and lots of flower seeds. For a month everything was growing better than ever.  I finally put wood chips on for mulch.  A few days later the pepper died.  I thought I hadn't watered it well enough.  A few days later one of my zucchini died. Again I thought I didn't get it watered, mostly because it looked totally fried, and it's been very hot.  Next the petunia died, now I'm totally confused. Last night I noticed the longevity herb I planted only the day before was totally gone.  Today my other zucchini died.  These were huge very healthy looking very productive plants. That died in a matter of like 2 days.  I thought maybe I watered to much. The soil was damp, but I couldn't squeeze any water out.  So That's not it.  I pulled one of the zucchini out, and it looked like something had been eating it. My first thought was gopher, but there was no sign of gophers.  Next I see white specks all over, now I think some kind of bug. I pulled the other zucchini, sure enough it also looks like something ate through the main root. Maybe they were in the wood chips.    If anyone knows I would love some info.  I put the same wood chips in a different bed, and it seems fine.  I have zucchini and squash in other beds and they seem fine.  Mater of fact everything has been growing super well this year.  It happened so fast, I worry I will end up with empty garden beds.  Thanks
I'm attaching some pictures of the root, dead zucchini, a squash in the next bed built the same way, this year too, and the other bed the same wood chips are in placed the same day. Thanks again.
IMG_20210701_211832385.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_211832385.jpg]
IMG_20210701_211716565.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_211716565.jpg]
IMG_20210701_205550083.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_205550083.jpg]
IMG_20210701_205339498.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_205339498.jpg]
IMG_20210701_205403931.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_205403931.jpg]
IMG_20210701_205459207.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210701_205459207.jpg]
 
gardener
Posts: 4355
Location: Southern Illinois
914
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorry about your dead crops Jen.

As soon as I read “Little white bugs” I immediately thought about aphids.  Aphids can wreak havoc on a garden and are fairly common.  Maybe a piece of wood had a part of an ant colony and had some aphids with them.  

About all I can think of is Diotomaceous Earth.  It is OMRI listed and is harmless to everything but the nasties.

There may well be other pest pressures at work and other remedies available.  This is just where I would start.

Eric
 
master steward
Posts: 8859
Location: USDA Zone 8a
2674
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
White specks could be whiteflies which will suck the life out of your plants.  This is what I am seeing from your pictures.

Is there a sticky substance on the plants like honeydew or a sooty mold?

Try washing them off any remaining plants with a soap solution.

If my guess is wrong, I am hoping other forum members will have some suggestions.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1030
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
309
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know if aphids would do such a number so fast. And they wouldn't explain the roots looking like they were chewed off. Super frustrating for you.

I just wanted to mention that DE will kill beneficial insects as well. Anything with an exoskeleton is toast.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks.  I just don't know.  I have dealt with aphids on veggies and roses before.  The white dots are smaller then aphids, and the damage is to severe, and the plant died to fast.  I'm not exaggerating when I say one day it was a huge beautiful zucchini, the next day it looked a little wiltie, and the next it's dead.  
Nothing makes sense.  The timing says something was in the wood chips, but the other bed I put wood chips from the same pile, on the same day, and that bed looks great.  It has tomato, eggplant, cucumber, pepper, radish, marigolds, and bachelor buttons (flowers were planted as seed, and haven't bloomed yet)
Everything on the internet says squash Vine borer, or squash bug.  I haven't dealt with those bugs before, but I can't see the damage I should see.  The root looks like it was eaten from under the soil .  Also the first to go was the pepper plant.  I don't know anything about white fly, so I will have to look into that suggestion. I did remember the cantaloupe and petunia were victims of the chicken, not bugs.
It's very strange.  I have been very lucky over the years. I have had little problems, but never an entire bed, and so fast.  I usually plant a lot earlier. By now the garden is usually full of marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, dahlia, and chamomile.  I love to mix herbs and flowers with the veggies.  I think this helps a lot.  This year I tried to do the same, but the flowers either didn't germinate, or are growing slow.
I have other zucchini and squash plants, so I can afford to loose them, It happened so fast I'm worried about loosing everything in my garden.  Im not totally against using organic bug control, but usually I wait and see if nature will balance itself out.  It usually does. Maybe this time waiting will cause me to loose all. It's a gamble.  Thanks for the info everyone.  I always say gardening is an adventure, and no adventure is complete without a little adversity.  Thanks everyone
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know, white fly doesn't really match either.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4355
Location: Southern Illinois
914
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen,

Let’s rule out aphids.  They were just the first thing that came to mind when you said white bugs, but the damage does not exactly scream aphids.

I have had squash bugs, but they are not white.  They are brown/gray and take a few days to kill a plant.  When they do, the plants wilt from the outer leaves inward and the stems don’t get chopped through like yours (my experience, mileage may vary).

I don’t know about white flies.  Maybe they would be worth investigating.

As for treatment, predators are an obvious option, but with an infestation so advanced, maybe you don’t want to wait.  Neem oil comes to mind.  Neem is repulsive to most herbivorous insects and if they do eat the neem, it has an appetite suppressive quality that turns them anorexic and they die of starvation.  Neem is also OMRI listed.

I have tried Insecticidal Soap (again, OMRI and not actually a true ‘cide).  This only works if you catch the nasties at work.  Basically they have to be soaked in the stuff for it to work.  Some people swear by this but I never had much luck.  Seems like the nasties abandoned ship just before I sprayed them and after it dried they came back.  You can buy insecticidal soap mixed with neem as a sort of tag-team approach.

There are probably other options (OK, there are definitely other options) that I have not mentioned for control.  I have heard of plant covers which will work if the nasties are coming from outside.  If they are coming from the mulch, I don’t know exactly what to do.

Just a few thoughts of mine and I hope this helps.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 4355
Location: Southern Illinois
914
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess scratch the white flies as well.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When the longevity herb disappeared I thought maybe rat. One night after dark I saw a rat run out of my garden. I haven't seen it since, and with my schedule I do a lot of my watering after dark, sometimes very late.  I'm not an expert, but I see no signs of rodent. No digging, no missing or eaten veggies. I know rats are smart, and maybe it knows to hid when it hears me, or sees my light, but to leave no sign at all?  It just doesn't work for me.
My daughter thought see would be helpful and dusted the hole garden paths and all with diatomaceous earth.  Looks like it snowed last night.  So much for letting nature balance itself out.  Oh well. The nice things about DE is all I have to do is wet it down, and it's not a problem anymore.  So far the rest of the garden seem unaffected. I did remove the infected plants from the garden instead of leaving it like I would normally do.  Time will tell.
Thanks
 
pollinator
Posts: 868
Location: Chicago
260
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You say there were "white specks" not specifically "white bugs."  Were they maybe specks of fungus or bacteria that is causing stem/root rot?  If so, improving drainage and letting the soil really dry out before planting anything new would probably help.
 
pollinator
Posts: 224
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
109
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Got ants? Ants on the surface or ants nesting in the roots of the plant when you dug it out?
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't seen any ants in that bed.
Maybe to much water, but not one stem seemed mushy or even soft.  Like I said before I grabbed a handful of soil and squeezed as hard as I could. It felt damp, but I couldn't get even one drop of water.  The soil looks good, and smells like soil.  Nothing funky or off about it that I could detect.
 
Posts: 15
Location: Garner, NC, USA
2
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Check for ants. I had two huge zucchini plants that were producing lots of leaves and fruits. then suddenly the leaves started dying off I fortunately caught them in "time", I hope, and got the stems off the ground and staked up. I even took one one stem that broke off and replanted it and it seems to be recovering. But most of the branching stems had died off and had to be removed.

My step mother sent me this link about zucchini that lead me to trimming and staking them as have:

https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/youve-been-growing-your-zucchini-all-wrong/
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Chris. I have never staked, or pruned my zucchini, except for a dieing leaf.   Is it safe to assume the same for yellow squash too?  It's basically the same.  
I have looked, I really don't see any ants in my veggie garden.  My poor artichoke in my forest garden is covered with them, but they haven't invaded my veggie garden yet.

On a side note.  I have lots of little toads in my veggie garden. Will the diatomaceous earth harm them?  It didn't seem to bother the lizards.  I figured it shouldn't cut them up like the bugs, but I was worried it may dry them out.  I just don't want to harm my bug eating friends.
Thanks everyone
 
Posts: 35
Location: Piedmont, North Carolina - 7b/8a
13
forest garden fungi urban
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am going to guess a mouse or some other small rodent.  I had a similar issue earlier in the spring in one of my hugels.  There were several second year parsley plants scattered around and they were doing beautifully, then they randomly began to wilt and die.  Everything else in the bed was happy and healthy. I pulled one of the dead/dying plants.  There was nothing holding it in. What was left of the root 'stump' showed clear signs of being gnawed on and there was a bit of a hole in the bed where the culprit made room for himself.  I've found mice in my compost occasionally, so I am pretty sure a mouse was the culprit.  I haven't had any issues lately, so I assume a neighborhood hawk took care of the problem for me.
 
pollinator
Posts: 291
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
27
forest garden hunting trees solar greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree, field mice or voles. They're opportunistic feeders and will ravage a garden in hours.
 
Debbie Ann
pollinator
Posts: 224
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
109
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just a suggestion.... the next time a plant goes down don't pull it out...... instead.... dig it up. Take your shovel and turn over the whole root ball/zone and examine the dirt surrounding the roots. It can be full of surprises. And your zucchini are beautiful.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks everyone. I have no doubt we have all kinds of rodents.  On the east and west side of us are walnut orchards. On the north side is a two year old almond orchard.  Every spring and fall we have to be diligent about keeping them out of the house.  Before the new almond orchard was a walnut orchard, man did we get the rodents when they took that out.  All the homeless critters took residence on our little property.  We still have more than we used to, but it's starting to balance out.  Anyway rodents were my first thought, but I thought there would be more damage. Missing tomatoes, and other veggies. I also thought there would be signs of digging.  There wasn't.  I did see two disturbed sports today in the almost empty bed.  I will have to think about this.  Maybe I'll put ammonia around the perimeter of the garden. The last time I have trouble something , squirrel rat mouse I don't know, was stealing the corn seeds. I solved that by sprinkling cayenne pepper.  It did the trick.  I have a ton of fence lizards and toads living in my garden.  Usually when I water, the spend time in the garden, I get eaten up by mosquitoes. I think I have only two bites so far.  I figured it's all little friends that live there.  Seems like Cayenne would bother them like anything else.  Maybe the ammonia will do the trick I'll try that first.  Thanks everyone it's been quite a mystery I appreciate your help.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Debbie Ann, everything but the beans and flowers are growing amazingly well this year.  I think that is one of the reasons the zucchini dieing is so strange.  They are the healthiest most productive plants I have ever had.  So far nothing else has died. Fingers crossed it stays that way.  Thanks
 
pollinator
Posts: 866
195
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen, the pictures look to  me like severe damage from fungus gnat larvae. They look like termites and munch tunnels into  the root crown and stem right at soil level.

The adults kind of look like little mosquitoes or gnats (they are gnats). They lay their eggs in moist soil. I have. Lost plants to them and it sounds very similar to what happened to you.

One thing you can do is leave the soil at the base of plants unmulched and try to keep it dry. You could also try to keep DE dusted around the base of plants. Another effective option is to water with a BT (bacillus thuriniensis (sp?)) product. That bacteria predates fungus gnat eggs. And lastly, you can get sticky traps for the adults that you just stake up in the garden.

One last thing, and it may  be too late this time, you should cover the area around a plant that dies and gets pulled from fungus gnats with cardboard to inhibit the new adults from getting out of the soil and laying more eggs. They're a pain but you can totally eliminate them without gnarly sprays, the garden that taught me all about them produced without damage for several years after the year the gnats wrought their havoc
 
Posts: 8
5
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We had the exact same thing happen in a soil mix that sounds just like yours.   It was something in the soil that caused the roots to rot just like your pictures.  I personally suspect it was something from the wood.   Maybe it was fungus gnats, as suggested above, but the problem definitely followed where the wood compost was.  Maybe the gnats like the smell of it?

We ended up digging pits in the area, put good soil in the pits, and planted in that soil only, and it worked.

We had to keep our plants away from that original compost'y soil for years.  Probably 10.  It was definitely a "Death Bed." Most everything that was planted directly in that stuff died, except for a few weeds.  Eventually, after about 10 years of putting good soil in the garden, we can plant in there directly, but I've hated that plot for a long time.

And the kicker was, that everything we planted in the native soil grew okay, just not lushly.

In the end, our best success has come from knowing a neighbor with horses.   He brings trailers and trailers of composted manure.  He says it piles up and we are doing him a favor.    In the fall we spread it over the ground maybe 3" thick, and let it do it's thing.  We now have lush, amazing gardens.

Maybe you can find someone in the area that owns horses.   Best wishes.  I know the frustration you are feeling!
 
pollinator
Posts: 167
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
63
cat urban cooking bike writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I lost an entire garden bed this way. It was voles. They started at one end of the bed and ate the roots of two plants/night. After about a week, every last thing was dead.

FYI and slightly off-topic , for keeping vine borers out of my plants, I’ve started wrapping orthopedic veterinary tape around the bases of the stems of my various squash, cukes, etc. They keep them from laying their eggs in the stems. It’s stretchy, so doesn’t cut off the plant’s circulation. Works a treat!

-Daniel
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The mystery has been solved.  I'm so bummed 😔!!!   Nothing bad has happened for days, and I thought maybe it's done.  Nope.  Went out after work to water.  A pepper plant in the same bed totally missing.  But worse a dead pepper loaded with little peppers dead.  A big mound of dirt in yet another bed.  I  took the hose to the place where the pepper used to be, and sure enough a hole just a bit larger than the hose. I turned the hose on full blast and left it.  In case you haven't guessed I have a gopher problem.  I have flooded them out before.  But sometimes you have to kill it when it pops out of the hole.  My husband suggested getting a mole chaser.  It sends sonic vibration every 30 second.  It seems to get mixed reviews.  Some swear it works, and some say it doesn't.  I will give it a try.  
I'm so upset.  I would have like to line my hugel beets with hard cloth, but it's just to expensive.  My 2 newest raised beds are hugel beets.  They go 2' underground, and have 2 concrete blocks above ground.  I could remove the above ground layers and lay hard cloth ( I have a 2'X50' roll I got for a deal) I think the block are 8" high, that would give me 16"  of soil the gopher couldn't get to.  I hope I don't have to do this.  It's a lot of work, on a brand new bed that took a lot of work to make in the first place.  
I'm bummed, my best garden ever, and the gophers are destroying it.  I appreciate all of your help and support.
Picture #1 is of the dirt mound you expect to see with gophers.  #2 is the hole after I put the hose in it.  You can actually see part of the missing pepper plant.
IMG_20210704_213036190.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210704_213036190.jpg]
IMG_20210704_211013232.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210704_211013232.jpg]
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used the hose to find a tunnel that runs through the bed.  Turned water off when I went to bed.  Checked before work today and the tunnel was closed up.  So I didn't managed around it last night. I turned the hose on until I left for work, I would love to leave it on all day, but feel that would be irresponsible considering we're going through a drought.  I ordered two mole chaser, to arrive 7/7/21.  I may stop in town and see if I can buy one.  One of the problems with them is it can take awhile to annoy the go for enough to move away.  My hole garden could be gone by then.  I also worry about the side effects of the sonic sound? On worms and other microbial life in my soil.  I got to do something.  It doesn't matter how great the soil is if I have nothing to grow in it.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nothing new died today. Hole I uncovered before I went to work was closed in again. I opened it up and turned the hose on.  I may not be able to drown the little sucker, I can at least irritate it.  I sprayed ammonia around the perimeter of the garden, and around every raised bed.  I sprayed caster oil around a lot of the plants it has been getting.  I bought a mole and gopher sonic spike.  I'm a little concerned about using this.  I don't want to chase away the lizards and toads living in the garden.  I also don't want the worms to leave.  I'm going to try it and see what happens.  
Has anyone tried one?  Do they work? Do they harm other life?  I just want to save the plants I have left.  Thanks
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't lost anymore veggies.  I thought I saw soil piled in the same bed it was piled before, but nothing new has died. The first hole I flooded several times, and as soon as I would stop flooding it would be filled in.  The last time I stopped flooding it I poured ammonia down the hole, and it wasn't filled in.  I still worry about loosing veggies, but so far something has helped.  What one or combination I don't know.
I was thinking about why?  Is it the 2 new hugel beets? I have 2 others, and this didn't happen before.  It's said gophers hate marigolds, and I always have lots of them planted in all the garden beds. This year I was late, and they didn't germinate, or are young. Then it hit me when I was trying to figure out how to get rid of gophers, I saw a YouTube video, the guy who tries all the new mouse traps, one of the ones he tried that worked was one that emitted a mint smell.  Several years ago I had mint get out of hand, and completely take over a raised bed.  I had to totally redo that bed. Ever since I have had mint all over my garden paths.  I didn't mind it, just kept it from getting into the beds.  This year I not only did I built a couple of new hugel beets, but I redid my garden paths.  No more mint.  Maybe this isn't significant, maybe it's just bad luck this year, but it makes me wonder.  Makes me think about planting mint.
The gopher has really taken the joy of gardening from me.  Now when I head to the garden it's with a heavy heart.  Wondering what will be dead today.  Today one of my squash, and the japanese cucumber next to it were very wilted.  I gently pulled on the stem at soil level.  They both seemed to still be rooted.  The soil wasn't super dry.  After dark I went to check, and both plants looked great.  It was 110 today, so I think it was heat stress.  
I wish I could just say ok problem solved, and move on. But I don't know if I killed it, so I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I'll tell you one thing, the next hugel beets I make I'm lining it with some kind of wire.  I didn't do it because I didn't think chicken wire was good enough, and no way could I afford hard wire cloth.  I decided if I used a heavy gage chicken wire, an overlap it, it may keep the gophers out.   What a bummer.  The most frustrating part is it's the best garden I have ever had, as far as the health and production of the plants.  Oh well maybe the little sucker moved somewhere else, I can only hope.
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 1030
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
309
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've got gophers. They're the most demoralizing creatures on the planet.

I've tried every nice way I've heard of to get rid of them (other than flooding tunnels - no water) and I haven't had anything work. Marigolds, castor bean, hot pepper garlic spray, dog poop down the tunnels, urine, etc., etc. My husband traps them sometimes, which, being a vegan, I'm horribly conflicted about. It helps, though. The last couple years they haven't been as bad and it might be because I'm growing a lot more potatoes. They stick to potatoes and leave my other plants alone. For some reason, they show mercy and leave me some potatoes. Quite a lot, actually. I just planted four new beds of potatoes in an area that the gophers are very active in, so I'll see if they leave me anything this year.

If you plant mint, let us know if the gophers hate it. I'm a bit fearful of mint, but I'd take it over gophers every time!


 
Posts: 1280
76
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
voles are either much more intelligent than you would think or instinct keeps them thriving. do you a feline friend that might help protect your place from unwanted pests?
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 1030
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
309
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

bruce Fine wrote:voles are either much more intelligent than you would think or instinct keeps them thriving. do you a feline friend that might help protect your place from unwanted pests?



Every vole I've met has seemed pretty dumb. My mostly deaf and blind bassett hound still catches one or two every summer. We had a stack of lumber on the lawn one time. When it came time to move it and we moved the last board, four voles were under it, running around and around their above ground grass tunnels, no idea what to do. They seemed so unprepared, we felt bad and put the board back to give them a chance to figure something out.

Pocket gophers are wily, though. They rarely come above ground, so felines don't help much. Dogs can dig for them...and dig up your garden in the process. They routinely push traps out of their tunnels with a mound of dirt and continue on their way. If you have a prize squash, they will tunnel up under that plant, chew through the stem of the squash, then pull some tomatoes down their tunnel and munch on them, chuckling about how pissed you're going to be in the morning about that squash. After their snack, they'll drag a whole row of your root vegetables off to their store room and take a nap before starting on the next bed.
 
Posts: 144
Location: Near Libby, MT
55
dog
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, I gave up trying to grow a garden in the presence of gophers/ground squirrels. I live in the woods and it would be impossible to kill them all. There is an entire metropolis under my garden. I had three beds raised on stacks of pallets. I put metal collars on them and that helped, although the game camera, at night, caught a large rabbit in one.

Following the "up is good" theory I started adding bathtubs set on cement blocks and that also works well, so far. In a hoop house I plant my tomatoes in stacks of tires, also with metal collars. The sheet metal isn't cheap but the tubs come from salvage yards and can be had for next to nothing. I think that I will try cardboard collars to see if the evil rodents can, or will, climb them.

Last year I began doing a little hugeculture by putting dried brush in the tub bottoms and adding dirt, chicken straw and compost. Even with the heat I seem to be watering less.

I don't see any ground squirrels this year. I hope that they've given up and gone home. This year is better for the garden overall, we got a better start than last year and even though it's hot hot hot the plants are coming on. I will say that it's taken far longer than it should have to outsmart the critters. They were just doing what came naturally and I wasn't.

On a related note, a few years ago I hauled home, from a yard sale, an old utility tub. I noticed that things planted in it, even sunflowers, didn't do well. This year everything I planted in it just flat out died. Same dirt, good drainage, same compost. I've decided that this is just a toxic tub. It must be made of something that is leaching into the dirt and poisoning plants. Something else to consider as we build our gardens.
IMG_20200909_191415849.jpg
Stacks of tomato tires
Stacks of tomato tires
IMG_20200815_194710654.jpg
A couple of tubs early on
A couple of tubs early on
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Roberta, you have a beautiful view.  You should win some kind of prize.  The most unique garden, and maybe the most determined.  I'm sorry you have had so much trouble, and impressed by your will to keep trying.  I hope you have out smarted all the critters. Thanks for sharing.
 
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Groundhog ate my red beets and broccoli leaves. Is the corn next?
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm so sorry George. I feel your pain. I wish I could tell you how to get rid of it. I don't even know if my little menace is alive, dead, or moved away.  I keep waiting.

I have decided to tempt fate and plant in the bed of death.  It's had bachelor button seedlings that have been there all along. I planted petunias, and transplanted a cantaloupe that was not getting enough sun just after the first zucchini died.  They are all alive and well.  I decided to plant two tomatoes, a jalapeno pepper and a habanero pepper.  These are all extras sitting around in pots, so I figured I might as well give them a chance.  We will see if they survive.
 
Posts: 80
Location: A NorCal clay & rock valley
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm right there with ya. Gopher and other underground terrorists.

Lost a whole bed of wildflowers and fennel, sucked down like spaghetti. Got another bed with my missing buttercup squashes and not a single bean left standing. Corn seems untouched atm.

I don't know all the tunnelers we have, but I can also tell you that one of them will go over ground and burrow right in to a melon mound and chow down.

I need some owls *sigh*
 
Debbie Ann
pollinator
Posts: 224
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
109
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Jen, I feel your pain.... if we grow it …. they will come! I got a handle on my gopher problem a couple of years ago. I tried everything that everyone else has mentioned. Ammonia, pepper spray, garlic, none of those worked.  The sonic things were useless and if I remember correctly it said on the package in very small print that it would take a few weeks before it irritated the gopher enough to convince him to leave. I tried them for 2 months.  Don't know how the worms felt about it. I have flooded out their tunnels a few times and killed them when they came up for air. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

This is what I learned. The good news is... yes, there is some good news.....Gophers are solitary creatures. If you get rid of this one you will get to enjoy your garden again until another one comes along sometime in the future to claim his tunnels.

Here is what I did.  Buy a couple of gopher traps, they are nasty things but necessary. Tie a 4 foot string to the back of the trap so he can't drag it away and tie the other end of the string to a rock or a stick to keep track of it. Put a couple of drops of vegetable oil on the catch so it will release super easily. Locate his mound of dirt and dig a hole there with your shovel about a foot or so deep, 12-14 inches around. Just deep enough to see the side of his tunnel. Leave this hole uncovered. The wind and sunlight seems to really bother them and bring them back pretty quickly to fix it. Often you will see both sides of his tunnel. Open up his tunnels a little so you can slide the trap a few inches in there easily. Now, online it always says that this is all you need to do. Come back to find the dead gopher. But Roberta is absolutely right! The gopher will usually just mound up the dirt against it over and over again. Smart asses! I found that it works much better if you drop something in your big hole to bait them. Whatever they love the most. Here they really loved my pea plants, Chinese cabbage and zucchini. Just drop in a small leaf or two. Then keep an eye on it. He will usually come back in just an hour or two because he smells your bait. Most of the time this works pretty quickly.

But I did have one that kept coming back over and over again within about 10 minutes, ignored the bait and still kept covering up the trap. So I stayed there and just kept opening it back up over and over again and reset the traps. I figured he would get frustrated and make a mistake and sure enough he met his Maker on my 4th try.

Don't get discouraged. You can do this! And Roberta, your bathtub garden is awesome! Have a great day, everyone.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We've had a pair of owls all along, it didn't seem to do me any good.  Besides gopher snakes, I'm not sure many natural predators are very good at eliminating underground critters.

I realized yesterday my beans were the first to be eaten by the gopher.  I planted very late for my area. My beans were healthy and growing well and then they just died.  I thought it must be because I planted so late they haven't covered the metal hog panel I use as a trellis. I figured it got to hot and fried the beans.  I just thought the ones that didn't die got shade for another plant.  Last night it just hit me.  They didn't get to hot, the gopher got them.  I feel pretty stupid it took me so long to realize it.  Not that it changes anything.

It's probably wishful thinking, but I'm wondering if my gopher is dead, or gone.  Not only has nothing else died, but when I was planting the bed of death last night I put the hose in the gopher hole, and it's still open.  Before my husband became disabled he was pretty good at keeping the gophers out of our yard. He said they always close to surface hole, and if it's still open the gopher is gone or dead.  I will still keep a close watch, but I sure hope he is right.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know how the worms feel about the sonic thing, but it doesn't seem to bother the lizards or toads.
 
Debbie Ann
pollinator
Posts: 224
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
109
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh, and use the traps that are dark green or if you have to buy the silver ones, paint them a dark color. Gophers are almost blind but I think the little bit of light coming into their holes makes the silver ones light up like flood lights and they try to stay further away from them. Good luck.
 
Jen Fulkerson
gardener
Posts: 1164
Location: N. California
457
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The gopher is back.  I lost a Dahlia.  Looked the same on the eaten stem.  The dahlia was about 10 to 12 inches away from the mole chaser, and maybe 8  inches away from a marigold that they are supposed to hate.  I have the hose in it's hole. I would like to leave it all night, but It feels wrong with the drought.  It was dark when I discovered it. So tomorrow I will respray ammonia around the outside of the garden beds and the perimeter of the garden.  Pour ammonia down the hole, and see what happens.

I really don't want to redo these new beds!  I'm thinking before I plant my fall garden, maybe remove the soil, and other layers to ground level.  Put wire down so it goes under the cement blocks. Then refill.  It should give the plants about 14 or 15 inches of soil the gophers can't get.  I'm hoping roots that go deeper than that could still be eaten, but hopefully the plant can survive it.  I don't want to have to do it, but it seems like a better option than always worrying about what will be next.  Man I hate gophers.
 
roberta mccanse
Posts: 144
Location: Near Libby, MT
55
dog
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Truly I share your murderous antipathy for the evil critters. Here we have "ground squirrels" that appear in the spring by the dozens and eat everything that dates to come up out of the ground, except potatoes for some reason.

There is no beating them but we have finally outsmarted them by elevating the garden. I plant tomatoes in stacks of tires (which the pack rats have been known to climb and steal entire branches of tomato plants). Most of the rest of the garden grows in bathtubs set on cement blocks and 4X4 boxes elevated on stacks of pallets and wrapped in sheet metal at the top.

Unhappily there are things that really need to be planted in the ground in order to do well. My beets stay kind of puny and it's hard to elevate sweet corn. But this year the critters seem to be fewer in number, maybe they are giving up? What I really need in a family of large snakes.
 
Willie Smits understands 40 languages. This tiny ad knows only one:
2022 SKIP: Skills to Inherit Property (PEP1) event --July 11-22nd, Wheaton Labs
https://permies.com/w/skip-2022
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic