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Aug 3, 2010 11:00 AM

Tomato plants/roots (?) being eaten by please, what to do?

They've done this before. They ate all my rose plant roots. But then were gone.
Apparently, they're back. What to do?

I have 5 large tomato plants that are now dying plants.
Turning yellow, leaves are dead and/or dying off/withering.
When this happened with the roses, I couldn't figure out what the problem was.
Until I lifted the tops of the dying rose plants and they came straight up and out of the dirt, roots gone.
I found evidence of gopher activity. Two "patio tomato plants" I planted together under the same tomato basket, now, one is completely gone, whole plant gone, all tomatoes gone. We realized all this when we returned from our recent vacation. If I look closely at where it was, I see a tiny bit of dirt scuffed up where it used to be. Like it'd been being dug from underneath.

I can only figure this is what's happening to the other 5 plants that are looking bleak. Any suggestions as to what to do? I can't find the gophers. I can only water and feed with Miracle Grow as usual. Do they make a MiracleBeGone for gophers?
Any suggestions are appreciated, thank you.

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  1. Gophers/moles/voles are evil. So are squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits. In the garden. I don't think there's anything you can do this year. I've read of people lining their garden bed with chicken wire to keep the tunnelers out. High fencing to keep the others out. I feel your pain. A few years ago I planted some coleus in pots to sit by thefront door. Put drip system on them and left town for a week or so. Came back and even alot of the dirt had been thrown out of the pots. There was one small, sad stalk. No sign of anything else. I don't plant coleus anymore. Good luck.

    1. There are some repellents that may work, which contain irritants (like cayenne pepper) and/or scary-smelling stuff (like dried blood). Here's one that professes to drive anything away, even armadillos! I didn't realize armadillos were garden pests. Live and learn.

      And this is specifically for burrowers, but you have to find the burrow:

      1. thanks both of you. if my eyes aren't lying, there could be, well, let me ask you this. how big is rabbit poo? sorry to get gross. we live where rabbits are everywhere but our dogs will kill 'em quicker than turnips if they get in the yard and the dogs hear everything, even burrowers. the garden is green chicken wired and fenced off, but the burrowers are underground. I hate to say this but next year it may just be one of the WallyWorld kiddie swimming pools with compost and peat moss in there and still fenced around the sides.
        just a bummer because I have heirloom toms in there, that I've been waiting for [set aside the cost of this fiasco]. I detest market tomatoes, it's a shame, thanks for helping me.

        3 Replies
        1. re: iL Divo

          Scroll down to figure 4. But I honestly believe it's a burrower. The above ground animals will usually go for the foliage first. I think your idea of a kiddie pool is a great idea. Have you ever read "Square Foot Gardening"? It's a classic and totally unique ideas. If you did raised beds, you could line the bottom with whatever. Google that and it will give you the general idea. Again, good luck.

          1. re: c oliver

            you're probably right. our dogs have literally stood still as if dead cocked head and stared at the planter beds, then pounced in there before there was chicken wire put in place. we've scolded of course, as they tromple over the fledgling baby plants and klll them with their weight. I got the idea in Columbus Ohio as I walked around the city on my way back from Old German Village there. It was placed in a church and the signs around the pool read, "children's project". Now I know rabbits could still get in there too so I'd have to think of that. Our beds are raised 2 cinder blocks high but we never thought of lining them with anything as that's where we planned on putting strawberries and roses with the strawberries growing being shaded by the roses. I haven't heard of the square foot gardening but will look it up as well as I'll read that link you provided. thanks again

            1. re: c oliver

              My strawberries were all eaten by gophers and some tunnels left in the large kiddie pool we used last year. This year I am taking an old table, drilling holes through the top for water release and doing the garden in pots safely away from the vermin. Kiddie pool was easy for gophers to get in and out of.....

          2. If it's any consolation, some years, the gophers/moles/voles leave us alone. Other years, not so much.

            1 Reply
            1. An ideal way to fight off burrowers is to dig a 12" deep X 6" wide trench around the perimeter of the patch you want to protect. Unroll the chicken wire and curve the bottom of the wire *away* from the patch leaving the rest straight up like a fence. You might want to anchor the bottom with earth staples (I've used the clipped off bended ends of wire clothes hangers.). Fill in the trench with soil. You will need a fairly tall length of chicken wire in order to have enough to bury. This works very well... the little beasties can't burrow through the bent wire.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gio

                that does make sense for probably next year, we'd have to clear out what's in there and although not something I care to think about, the idea of losing all this precious stuff is worse