I trapped a gopher this past week. My main vegetable garden is next to a large meadow and there is always plenty of gopher activity in it. So far this year, I’ve lost a tomato, some komatsuna, and several dill plants to the gophers. Some of the peppers are a bit stunted, and I’m fairly certain this is due to the gopher tunnels running beneath them. All of this damage I’ve accepted. I plant extra every year as a “provide for everyone” strategy. Nature after all is profligate, sowing literally hundreds and thousands of seeds for every plant that comes to full maturity. Mimicking that behavior saves me a lot of headache and heartache.
I also try to encourage snakes near my gardens. Rock piles make good habitat for them – as well as for toads who help with slug populations. Every year I see gopher snakes and king snakes hanging out in the sun or slithering across a slope on our property. Unfortunately, this main vegetable garden is in a cold and wet spot, which works well in some respects, but is not an asset to snake proliferation.
My agreement with the gophers is that we will live together. They will take things I’ve planted, and I will be tolerant and patient and appreciative of their digging and tilling. Until I’m not. And then I will do some trapping. And a gopher or two later I will stop. I will be tolerant and patient and appreciative. Until I’m not. We will live with respect for each other and for the dynamic balance of our shared space. I don’t have to be an angel and neither do they.
Last year passed without me setting any traps at all.
It was the beautiful cabbage that I discovered partially sucked into the ground and wilted that drove me to the traps. I have this thing for cabbages, plus I love my cabbages for sauerkraut, and didn’t get enough of them planted to want to share them with gophers. I set my traps in the clean run directly below where the cabbage had grown and used a large pot to cover up the hole. Within 2 days I had a large, dead gopher. It’s body will be compost, becoming fertile soil. I set one more trap pair beneath the peppers. And then I’ll stop. I’ll ask for a truce. Space for me and my plants. Space for them. Balance between us.