Gopher problems? Try salsa and Chardonnay – Sonoma County Gazette


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March 22, 2021, 11: 47AM
Updated 11 hours ago

March is the month where gardening begins. Seedling are started in plastic containers; fava beans, garlic and onions are growing skyward, weeds need to be cleared. That lettuce you planted in the frost is growing famously in the rainy mist. Compost and static piles of brush need to be turned. When the soil moisture is exactly right, it is time to be turned with a spade or rototilled. This pagan act of gardening restores the soul and reconnects us with Nature. Gardening perks up the COVID-19 Blues.
I come from generations of organic gardeners. Grew up on a truck farm, just a big garden but one needs a truck to take the produce to town. We would sack potatoes or load the truck with watermelons. Watermelons were sold for a nickel a piece back then. I have gardened in the same spot for about twenty years, so the soil is rich sandy loam. There are lots of volunteer plants like Kiss Me Over the Backyard Fence and Quinoa that grow tall. These provide bird feed well into winter. It does not make sense to put row seeds in the ground before May.
I dust off my Fox Fire Books (1972) and take a memory trip through Appalachia and the Ozark, grab my old copy of S.I Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. There is a ton of stuff online. If you do not have a garden area, I encourage you to grow herbs, lettuce, and flowers in containers. You just need to get the sun right, container to drain and water the plants afore they dry out. You can buy soil or make your own mix. I keep a worm bin and that takes care of kitchen waste and provides soil nutrient.
Thoughts turn to gophers, a gardener’s bane. The sandy loam around Sebastopol is like a freeway for gophers. Alas they eat half their weight each day. My first garden in 1969, no neighbors, I would sit on a ten- foot ladder with my .22 at sunup waiting for some small movement. Today, I might be locked up. I tried flooding them, used smoky toxins, and even planted extra for them. I tried a variety of traps but the only one I could get to work was the Black Hole. They would come up to pack the hole where the light came in with dirt and be throttled by the nifty mechanism. His year, I built new redwood planter boxes with hardware cloth stapled on the bottom. The galvanized wire last about five years but hardware cloth is top drawer. Yes, they will go over the top of the box but a planter boxes is the best remedy. I put all tomatoes and trees in wire baskets that I roll and hammer into shape.
You may not have wood rats, a shaggy interesting species. I grew a great block of corn, beautiful ears. Upon examination, there were no ears in the inside rows. The wood rats had stripped all the ears except on the outside rows. Very clever. Rats attract owls which make short work of all things furry. It is worth all grief when those first big juicy tomatoes come in. Better yet, try growing salsa. I know gophers do not like Jalapeno roots. It is a civilized gardener that grows salsa. Pairs well with a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Try it this year. Takes the edge off the gopher battles.

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