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by Connie Jones
(Black Mountain, NC)
Q. Have you got any suggestions for managing voles?
I've lost two old heirloom tomatoes to voles. I've never had any problems with them eating my tomatoes and I have mole bean plants growing around them. My tomatoes were fine in the morning ... then I came home from work and the top of the tomato plant was wilted. I pulled up the plant to find no roots with a tunnel underneath it. I am so mad. I couldn't figure out what got it until I realized to look below the ground in the soil. They dug underneath it.
I planted marigolds around the rest of the tomato plants until I get to a hardware store to get a mole deterrent. Any suggestions?
Tomato Dirt responds ...
A. First, a bit of background for readers and gardeners. Both moles and voles are small mammals that cause subterranean damage.
A mole, however, prefers a carnivorous diet: grubs, insects, and worms, for instance. On the other hand, a vole is primarily a vegetarian who eats grass, roots, the base of shrubs or even trees, flower bulbs, and plant stems.
That makes voles potential criminals in your tomato garden, as you have unfortunately discovered.
How to get rid of voles
One of the most effective deterrents is an animal repellent product called PlantSkydd. It is available as both ready-to-use or in a shaker container. PlantSkydd Repellent is non-toxic. It is made with predator phermones and actually keeps the critters from even entering your garden. Apply it every 3-4 months during the growing season or after a heavy rain.
Steps to take to keep voles away
As always, prevention is a key element in managing pests, and keeping voles away through prevention is no exception.
Make a less-suitable habitat for them. A vole problem is most likely to arise in gardens where they have lots of vegetation and debris to hide under, build their nests, and have vole babies. Keep your garden weeded. Avoid planting dense ground covers. Keep your lawn mowed. By reducing unnecessary vegetation, you'll prevent a vole population explosion.
Good luck and happy gardening!
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