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Moles, Voles and Holes

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Grrr...voles

Post  kgooding on 4/22/2012, 8:42 pm

Okay, so I did the hardwire cloth and landscape fabric under the boxes, and then used my chicken wire to make critter cages. I covered a 12x24 cage (made per the book) with clear plastic to cover a couple squares when I planted some bush beans and a couple days later I found a dead vole (or mouse I'm not 100% sure) inside the cage! I'm not sure what on earth happened to the thing, I mean, I didn't see any hole that it came up from underneath, so I think I'm okay that way. I'm guessing it somehow slipped under the wood on the bottom of critter cage, but I really am mystified about how the darn thing died in there. I mean, if it got in it should have been able to get back out, right? And they can dig, I would think the fight for life would have gotten it to dig it's way out! To be honest, the squares weren't even that dug up, but we'll have to see if any seeds come up! About 3 years ago (before I had kids and I had voles in the front) I did plug a bunch of holes with rat poison and they seemed to disappear, but I can't imagine that the critter found some of the poison, ate it, then looked for a snack in my garden and just happened to die in the cage! I do have a neighborhood cat that I used to hate but I now have a new respect for, but I don't think the cat lifted the cage and left the thing as a gift offering. Anyway, I'm now really worried, because if one just happened to die in there I'm thinking there are probably a lot more! I wish there were a way to call Carl Spangler for advice, especially since my lawn guy just pointed out that I have moles in the front yard after having it re-sodded last fall! Anyone with more advice on deterrents I'd appreciate it, I do have a toddler around the garden so I hesitate to use poisons and snap traps. As for sticky traps, maybe, but I scream like little girl when I see live or dead little critters so I'd rather deter than have to see another one.
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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 4/22/2012, 10:01 pm

Suspect the chicken wire you used on the critter containment cage has holes large enough for a vole (field mouse) to get through. Say it had been injured, but not killed, by your neighborhood cat, and squeezed into the box, where it died. Possible, no? Most chicken wire is definitely big enough for mice to squeeze into. After all, they can enter the house through an opening just a bit larger than the thickness of a quarter, chicken wire would be no problem at all. OR, did you use the wire meant for baby chicks, which is more secure?

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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  RoOsTeR on 4/22/2012, 10:16 pm

Nonna.PapaVino wrote:Suspect the chicken wire you used on the critter containment cage has holes large enough for a vole (field mouse) to get through. Say it had been injured, but not killed, by your neighborhood cat, and squeezed into the box, where it died. Possible, no? Most chicken wire is definitely big enough for mice to squeeze into. After all, they can enter the house through an opening just a bit larger than the thickness of a quarter, chicken wire would be no problem at all. OR, did you use the wire meant for baby chicks, which is more secure?

+1
Chicken wire critter type cages won't keep voles or mice out.

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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 4/22/2012, 11:19 pm

RoOsTeR wrote:
Nonna.PapaVino wrote:Suspect the chicken wire you used on the critter containment cage has holes large enough for a vole (field mouse) to get through. Say it had been injured, but not killed, by your neighborhood cat, and squeezed into the box, where it died. Possible, no? Most chicken wire is definitely big enough for mice to squeeze into. After all, they can enter the house through an opening just a bit larger than the thickness of a quarter, chicken wire would be no problem at all. OR, did you use the wire meant for baby chicks, which is more secure?

+1
Chicken wire critter type cages won't keep voles or mice out.

Yep....you need hardware cloth with holes no bigger than a 1/4 inch
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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  kgooding on 4/24/2012, 12:58 pm

Well, the good news is I have the hardwire cloth under the beds, so at least I won't have to excavate and put it down. Now I just have to figure out how worried I am about the critters and how much they will wipe me out and consider making new critter cages. I'm thinking that since the critter cages just sit on top of the dirt inside the garden they will be able to tunnel in if they really want to so I'm not sure it's worth the effort. On the plus side so far I've only seen the one (which I know means there are a million) but the only thing it seems to have gone after was the beans. The peas, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce seam to be fine! Anyone had any success with castor oil as a deterrent?
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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 4/24/2012, 5:46 pm

I am having to empty and move two 4x4 boxes because of the mole/vole problem. Just got the first one set up and filled today before it rained. The original boxes are now mounted on a square made from landscape timbers and with 1/4 inch hardware cloth nailed to the bottom. This makes the soil depth of the box 9 to 10 inches, depending on how the compost/forest duff/potting soil in the bottom compacts. The 6" of old Mel's Mix with some new compost mix added to it shouldn't compact any more than it was in the old box, right? And, I'm here to tell you, that old Mel's Mix was full of happy-looking earthworms.

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Public enemy #1 - the voles

Post  kgooding on 4/29/2012, 9:25 pm

I don't know about just adding compost. I would think that if you are having to increase the volume of Mel's mix in the new boxes you might want to think about adding in a little more vermiculite and peat moss too, just to keep things light and airy in there. On the other hand, I have heard of other people having success with 50% compost and cutting back on the vermiculite and peat moss to cut costs. I'm just too new to do anything other than exactly what the book says to do!

Anyway, as an update on my vole story. Most of the bean seeds that the dead vole was in with have now sprouted, so it really didn't do much damage in there, I might have lost a couple plants, but I'm starting to think I've got plants planned to feed an army, so I'm just going to let things go. I mean, I have 2 squares of pole beans plants and am planning on planting 2 squares of bush beans every 1-2 weeks all summer for my myself, my husband, and my 2 year old that doesn't eat his veggies. Interestingly enough, though, I was in the garden this evening and noticed a "Vole Hole" just outside of my beds. It looks like someone tried to tunnel in but there were no holes up into the beds so I'm thinking the hardwire cloth did it's job! I'm still going to be putting some juicy fruit out there though, since as I understand it they can also travel on the surface of the ground to get in and obviously based on the one dead one can get in there. I will admit though, I'm very nervous about my plans to put in corn. I'm thinking about fencing the corn but then also throwing some smaller netting on top of the fencing. In the book Mel talks about using 1" chicken wire, but I just don't see that keeping out the mice. Of course, maybe the mice can't climb the stalks to get the the ears of corn? Urgh, all I know is by the time I'm done building all these protective structures I could have joined a CSA, but that wouldn't be near as much fun!
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Vole(s) In My SFG!

Post  donnainzone5 on 11/6/2016, 12:36 pm

I've known or suspected for a couple of years that I have a vole problem.  The official diagnosis came when a Terminix guy came out to give me an estimate to assassinate some subterranean termites that swarmed around a dying flowering plum tree one day.

I do have many of those small holes, as well as squishy spots in my lawn.

About a year-and-a-half ago, my cat Sterling caught at least 14 voles.  However, he's been kept indoors more often since then because of a couple of nasty asthma attacks. 

Yesterday, Sterling and I were playing in the garden when he suddenly began sniffing a square and digging.  I suspect he sensed or smelled a vole.  Soon, however, he gave up and mosied on.  I suspect that the vole fled his assault.

Since I'm getting old and semi-decrepit, I don't relish having to shovel out the MM to put 1/4" hardware cloth down, but I suppose I'll have to do so.  I already have a small roll, plus two raised bed fabric liners.  Should I also add a thick layer of cardboard?

If this plan succeeds, I expect that I won't have to dig and divide my bulbs and tubers as often in the future.
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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  sanderson on 11/6/2016, 4:24 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:Since I'm getting old and semi-decrepit
Hey, who you calling old and semi-decrepit?  I'm turning 68!   Razz Won't it be sufficient to install hardware cloth and weed fabric?  What would the cardboard do?

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Re: Moles, Voles and Holes

Post  donnainzone5 on 11/6/2016, 5:01 pm

Sanderson,

We're only a year or so apart.  My knees, neck, back, etc. are often problematic.  Even as a child picking strawberries in the fields, I generally sat on my posterior and skootched along the rows. 

I thought the cardboard might provide an additional, though temporary, barrier, as well as attract worms. 

The neighborhood kids who occasionally assist me always comment on the number of big, fat worms they find.  I'm not sure why, since they help in the flower beds, not the SFG.
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