Holy Moley

As most of our friends and customers know, we put a lot of effort into the soil we create for our organic gardens…. vegetable and ornamental alike. Lots of organic material from compost, our animals, and leaves. The plants are not alone in enjoying this rich array of decaying material. Our gardens are quite full of earthworms. Enough so that our son Noah can easily dig what he needs for a day of fishing in short order, this is good because going fishing is often a last minute decision around here. This summer during the drought, we had woodcock feeding on the worms in our soft moist soil, in the morning we would come upon them and be momentarily startled as they fluttered away (did you know that woodcocks can eat their body weight in earthworms each day?). Having soil riddled with worms is a good sign, they are certainly helping to break down and digest the organic matter for us. But another predator has come to feed that can be less of a welcome…. moles. Worms are a mainstay in their diet, and I believe they were eating well. While I don’t mind sharing the worms with the moles, the tunnels they make can be a problem. What happens next is that voles, a vegetarian, use the tunnels to go underground in the gardens, and they can eat our plants from the roots up through the winter. In the spring, all that can be left is a hole or depression where the plant or plants were. And of course, they seem to often eat those that you cherish most! They will also girdle the bark off from your favorite trees and shrubs. We combat both the moles and voles in this way: we make a liquid combination of water, dish detergent, and castor oil. Moles and voles hate the smell of it and will leave any area you treat. It can be used as a spray on pots and plants, and as a drench on beds where you first see mole or vole activity. We use it under our covers on the pots we over winter, and in our gardens. It is best to get a head start by driving out the moles first before they make too many tunnels, and then discourage the vole as well. It’s cheap and is good insurance against large losses of your plants. The recipe we use is 6 oz of castor oil and 2 tablespoons of dish detergent to a gallon of water. Mix well and add 1 oz of the mixture to a gallon of water that you will then spray or drench with. I often use more to make sure they get a good nose full. We like to think we have room on our plot of ground to welcome all creatures great and small, but would prefer they fill their bellies outside our garden walls!