Monday, December 3, 2012

Garden makeover by Irene Shonle

Voles have periodic population explosions, and my house was the epicenter this year.   Pocket gophers decided to get in on the party, too.  Whereas before, they had always stayed down in the leach field and other peripheral areas, this year they moved into the garden.  I watched one of my rhubarb plants disappear underground entirely.
Fencing kept out the rabbits and chipmunks, but not voles and pocket gophers

I finally realized that my attempts to retrofit exclusion just weren't working (rocks kept me from burying the fence underground, and voles just slipped right under like the fence wasn't even there).  Pocket gophers were completely undeterred by the above ground fence.   It was time to do things right -- even though it would mean a LOT of work!

So, over several weekends, we laboriously dug down about 18".   This involved a pickaxe, several shovels, me, my husband, and a strapping young lad. The old cliche about "they don't call this area the Rocky Mountains for no reason" came to mind.  All I can say is, thank goodness for young, strong backs --  I'm not sure we would have gotten everything done if it hadn't been for Liam!

After we dug out the beds, we lined everything with hardware cloth.

We amended the soil with rabbit poop, alfalfa pellets, and compost as we added it back to the beds.  In the spring, I plan to use floating row covers to keep out animals that would like to come in above-ground, as well as insects. Floating row covers also conserve soil moisture and reduce wind damage, so I consider them indispensable for the mountain gardener.  Maybe I'll have to do a whole post on them...

1 comment:

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