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HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

Posted by slinky (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 5, 07 at 9:18

Something is destroying all the hostas in my garden, one by one. It is infuriating beyond belief and just the thought of my yard being a free all you can eat buffet at my expense (from my wallet, my time, and my creativity and enjoyment of the plants) just makes me feel pissed!!!

The last couple of weeks, I've gone outside to check on the state of my gardens and I find a hosta slumped over. On closer inspection, I see a hole underneath where the leaves are. I pull out the leaves- sometimes they are still attached with just a tiny bit of root left. But more often than not, I just end up with a fist fill of leaves. A shaking, enraged fist! Grrr!!!!

The ones that still have some stem and root left, I've put into containers with soil and kept them watered, and they seem to be making it. They aren't getting any WORSE, at least, which I take as a good sign.

What is doing this to my hostas? I'm suspecting moles- we have tons in our yard and have tried many, many, many ways of getting rid of them. Nothing has worked and if anything they seem to be getting worse.

The lawn is one thing. But, my HOSTAS!? Aw, HEYLL NO!!!

I was actually considering digging each one up, and planting it with lots of good soil, into an empty plastic container. One that is much, much bigger than the roots currently are so it would have a little room to grow. Then replanting the plant IN the container, in the dirt. Would this solve my problem, maybe?

Also, since we have moles- the one thing we haven't tried is treating the lawn for bugs and grubs. We were afraid if we did so, the moles would just search harder for food and be forced to search for it in our garden in the form of bulbs and roots.

Please, any advice is MUCH appreciated. Thanks so much, and sorry this was so long!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

You have to eliminate the moles...tons of moles?...no wonder your hostas are going down the drain. I had a mole problem 3 years ago and solve it by flushing the moles out of their holes and tunnels. It took me over one week...I had to be persistant.

Papou


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

ah, so after a little hunting it appears that i have voles- not moles.

at any rate, anything i can do to keep these &$(*@#&s out of my hosta roots? :)


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

Hi Slinky,
I feel your pain because I've been there too. Here's a link to bridgewood Gardens and their recommendation for vole patrol.

http://www.bridgewoodgardens.com/HOSTAS 101 BAIT STATION.htm

I made up about 6 of these for my yard and bought the rat bait blocks at Home Depot. They have just about gotten rid of the voles from my yard and no more damage. I also have taken to putting all my new hostas in cages made out of wire. Also, I sprinkle crushed rock on top of the planted hosta because supposedly they don't like digging in rock.

You are right that it is the vole or shrews that are doing the damage, chewing the roots. The moles just dig the tunnels for them.

Good luck getting rid of them.
Sandy


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

There is a product called Tomcat,which is green-colored,that you just place in their little holes. It is a bait and they eat it. It worked well for me. Also,you can re-plant with sharp edged grit,a type of small stone,which makes it harder for them to dig. Good luck! Phil


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

I have 3 happy healthy cats- my garden guardian angels...
all moles, voles, rabbits, mice ends up on steps of my front porch...
well there are some racoons visiting my pond but besides turning over plants in the pond occasionally they do not do much damage.


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

Phil,
The slight problem with Tomcat or other pelleted bait is they carry it back to their nest to store. I have found the bait in other parts of the garden where I didn't put it. If you have cats or dogs, you don't want them getting it. I did use it for a while before I found the bait trap and went through tons of it. I always made sure I put a large rock over the hole so the cats couldn't get in there and dig bringing it up. The bait trap, they have to eat it right there. You can see where they nibble away.


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

  • Posted by jspece Josh - z4 IA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 5, 07 at 12:42

You are correct that moles eat insects, not plants. They are still very destructive!

How big is the hole under your plants? Voles are very tiny and their holes are only an inch or so in diameter. A couple years ago I had a gopher causing a LOT of damage in my garden. It destroyed several hostas just like you described and chewed holes in 2 pond liners! Finally hired someone to trap it. Gophers leave big piles of soil in the yard, as apposed to a long run like a mole.


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

  • Posted by kines z7 NC Piedmont (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 5, 07 at 15:30

See this thread to discover my magic remedy, guaranteed successful if properly executed:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/hosta/msg0621290816564.html?4


And as I mentioned in that post, I have enough experience with them now to be convinced that they really like the fallen leaves, as they just make loose little tunnels just underneath the leaves on the soil to move from hosta to hosta. They seem to be shy and don't like to come out into the open, so if you make the earth bare between hostas, I think it limits their willingness to travel.

The voles here in NC have never shown any interest in any type of bait, poison, or trap that I have used. They choose hosta crowns every time.

One more thing: More power to all the folks who take time to protect roots with wire or coarse gravel, but the voles that I have seen here clearly use a very superficial path, or loose tunnel, just under the mulch, pine straw, or leaves, entering the hosta crown essentially from above, so I would expect an underground defense to be useless.

I have never had a hosta fall prey to a vole when it had a bare-earth surrounding.

Good luck, don't get too upset - it's a setback, yes, but also an excuse to get more hostas! LOL!


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

I find this whole thing ironic, given how often it's discussed.

Voles use mole tunnels to get around, so it doesn't make any difference how big the stupid tunnel is.

You don't want to poison them if you have pets. Period. Unless you actually wanted to get rid of your pets.

Dig 'em up, pot 'em in big pots with small holes and be prepared to repot ever couple of years. If you use a large enough pot that the edges can stick a couple of inches up above the ground? Not only will you yourself remember there's a pot there, but it will deter some voles from coming in over the top. Voles are field mice that can climb anything.

Although this isn't news, I sure wish it were.

Christine
Who loses 10-20 hosta and other plants to voles each year. Who just lost a delphinium in mid bloom. :(

C.


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

I have had voles living in pots......
I was out in the yard just now....calling "Whoooo Cooks for youooooo"...
Predators are really your best bet.
Do you feed birds? Year around? Do you always have a water source for the birds?
Think of it....song birds are hawk bait....and owl bait. And those predators also eat rodents.
You start putting out poison and a predator eats a poisoned critter....and the predator dies....and all the critters he might have caught live on.
The best way to control the hosta eating deer population is with wolves, coyotes and puma...but unfortunatly those animals are hard for us to live with.
Linda C


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

Well, you could start hunting and eating what you kill, too.
Not an option for me, either.

I'm trying to figure out how to encourage snakes. We have black snakes around here and they're gorgeous. Despite the smorgasbord I offer, though, they don't seem to stay in my landscaped area. Perhaps I need to put in more rocks or a wood pile.

"hmmmmmm," she said, eyeing potential stacking spots.

Christine


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

The other day someone backed into, and knocked over, our mail box.

So my husb went to set it back up, and when he picked up the post from the hole it had been leaning over from, lo & behold 2 feet of garter snake comes flying out of the hole & scoots across the driveway!

Seems the post had been rotting a bit down in there, got a little nudge from a bumper & tipped--news to us about the rot but the snake had been enjoying the little cave.

To encourage snakes: pile up a lot of rocks loosely in a quiet spot. Maybe even dig a bit of hole & start the pile in that! Leave it alone. Keep the kids away. Let some of the rocks be arranged so they get some morning sun--nice flat ones. Have the rest of the pile in shade---you want the snakes to have a place to hide from the hottest days, as well as to shelter from cold.

Oue elderly neighbor has a stone wall across her back yard edge, with a shady ravine behind it. This spring she was in fits because she realized she had a garter snake living in the wall (that's the one she *saw*). She was calling the animal control officer to come & get rid of the snake!

After they picked themselves up from laughing on the floor, they told her they do not come out to the woods to remove garter snakes! I wish we had her snake in our yard, but she has the stone wall & the ravine!


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RE: HELP!! At my wit's end, right about now!

We frequently find snakes in the window wells. We bought half-circle dome shaped clear plastic covers to keep out snow and weeds, and we ended up with snakes and toads in there. It's protected and warm. Of course, now that the snakes have found it, there aren't as many toads in there in the spring. :o(
This upsets my sons, who love toads. They like snakes too, but not if they eat their toads. So they relocate our snakes (thank you thank you) The faucet is right next to one of the window wells/snake pits/toad homes.


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