Grow Hack: Avoid Burrowing Pests Humanely

Burrowing rodents such as gophers, voles or moles can disrupt a garden by building mounds, digging tunnels and even feeding off of cannabis roots and trunks. Learn how you can keep these underground critters away naturally to avoid constructing labor-intensive underground barriers or setting poisonous traps.

Many outdoor growers may not initially consider the implications of rodent infestation, and miss the chance to implement preventative measures before they strike. Field mice and wild hamsters may feed on small plants or strip the stalks of adult plants to use in their nests, while gophers and voles dig tunnels and consume roots. Moles eat mainly insects and damage cannabis gardens simply from the collateral damage they do by building hills and digging tunnels.

Using poison bait on rodents is a gruesome prospect. These poisonous morsels contain chlorophacinone and diphacinone, which are toxic anticoagulant agents that require repeated exposure before they rupture capillaries and cause internal bleeding. Exterminators also fumigate rodent tunnels with phosphine gas, carbon monoxide or directly with flammable gas to blow them up.

To avoid inhumane poisons and traps, an organic farmer can take advantage of nature to prevent and deter rodent infestations. If you know an outdoor garden may be at risk, you can use several different methods of prevention. Start by lining the outside of you garden with straw bales, which are wide enough to prevent rodents from being able to see what’s on the other side, driving them elsewhere for shelter and forage. After the bales start to decompose, you can use them as brown matter for composting.

Plant a perimeter of daffodils around your garden. The bulbs of plants from the Narcissus release toxins like calcium oxalate and lycorine into the soil immediately surrounding them and underneath. Have no fear of this calcium oxalate for you weed plants; as long as the daffodils don’t grow immediately surrounding the cannabis, you buds won’t catch one trace of these toxins, but burrowing rodents hate them and won’t burrow beneath them.

In the same way a gardener can attract predatory insects to ward of insect infestations, you can do the same with rodents. You guessed it; gardeners that appreciate the cycle of life can use snakes or dogs to prevent and ward off rodent infestations. Simple landscaping techniques that bring natural elements (i.e. logs, brush piles, bushes) from the forest to you garden can provide shelter for snakes and other reptiles. If you follow the existing methods for attracting beneficial, predatory insects, you landscape will also provide shelter for reptiles so they stick around after you release them, and your trip to the pet store for rat snakes will not be in vain.

If you prefer a cuter, albeit more expensive and time consuming, option to releasing snakes in your garden, you can invest in the endless energy of small Terrier dogs to chase rodents off your property. Many breeds of Terrier are in fact breed to chase rats away their owners property, the Rat Terrier being the prime example. Buy the dog as a puppy, and make sure they get conditioned to spending long hours outdoors and hunting by a young age. A garden cat, or maybe two, will also kill and scare away rodents and small mammals.

Don’t let a rodent infestation ruin your practice of clean, environmentally friendly cannabis growing by forcing you to use inhuman, poisonous and expensive extermination methods that harm other animals.

Photo credit: Danny Danko

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