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Location: San Diego, Ca

Phantom Menace!!

I have a dirt plot in my back yard that has nothing growing in it right now, but it used to. I had several veggies growing there last year, but many died because something ate them from the bottom, as in the roots. Some plants were tall and fruiting one day and fallen over the next. When I went to investigate, I picked them up and they had no roots. I did some digging and discovered some tunnels running throughout and they all connected and eventually led under my fence to my neighbors yard. One of the tunnels had what appeared to be a nest; dry grass and leaves as bedding. I never found an entrance to these tunnels in my yard, so, I assume the culprit entered from my neighbors side. I haven't seen any critters come out of the ground. All of I've seen is the squirrel that randomly comes into my yard and nibbles some of plants and runs back into the canyon once he notices me. Think it's him??

I have stopped planting there because of this and have gone to container planting. But, I need to know what the heck is giving me so much grief. I've set out rat traps baited with carrots, but nothing ever touches it. Trying to avoid poison. I have my pellet gun at the ready, but I never what it is I should be shooting at. The squirrel that comes into my backyard needs to be eliminated as well, but he's a smart sucker!!

Tips? Ideas? Solutions?

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Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

You have pocket gophers, voles, and California ground squirrels (aka gray diggers) in your area. It could have been any of them, although I'm not sure the ground squirrel eats while underground. They are diurnal -- out and about from dawn to dusk, and they might simply dig up the bulbs and roots they want, rather than eating them from below. Pocket gophers and voles, however, commonly eat roots and bulbs from underground, and sometimes pull the entire plant down into the burrow.

I'm sorry, but I don't have any guaranteed methods of control, because where there is one, there are many. If you kill the one you have, another will move into the territory ... maybe more than one.

The squirrel you saw might be a gray digger, or it might be a tree squirrel. They are similar in appearance. Gray diggers can climb trees in an emergency, but they usually stay on the ground and run for their burrow entrances when danger threatens. They have a very interesting relationship with the Pacific rattlesnake, which is one of their primary predators and also lives in your area.

Many gray diggers share the same burrows, but each squirrel has its own private entrance that it uses exclusively.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Hmm... I seem to remember last year, someone decided to dig up their entire bed and lined it with hardware cloth that extended above to connect with the garden fence. I wonder if that worked? When I have time, I'll try to find that thread, and whether I remember correctly.

Do those devices that emit high-frequency sound or cause vibrations in the ground help? I've seen ones that are solar operated (I think the sound emitter) and a small wind-mill vibration maker in catalogs but have no idea of their effectiveness.

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