Moles are Eating my Sweet Potatoes : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

This is the first year I have tried growing Sweet Potatoes in Pennsylvania. When I first put the plants in the garden, the moles would literally pull the plants down into their tunnels.(moles are everywhere around here) I was able to salvage a few plants, and they grew lush and spread across my garden. When the leaves died down, I dug into the ground, and all I found were a lot of half eaten and rotting tubers. I was wondering if any of you good folks might have some ideas or remedies for this mole problem. I'd appreciate any help. Thanks. Sharon

-- Sharon (, January 02, 2000


Sharon,I can really sympathize.We have the same prolem here.BUT the culprit is not moles! Moles are carnivorous and fairly harmless,except that they can burrow under the plants as they search for grubs and earthworms.Voles or groundsquirrels are more likely at fault.They do not run fast,so see if you can kill one.They look a lot like a mole.They are soft brown colored and have a short,inch long tail.Moles have special digging claws,voles do not,and moles are usually gray,not brown.The best way to get rid of them is a cat.We had bales of mulch hay in oour garden one fall and the voles burrowed into them for the winter.Later in the winter when I broke a bale open to mulch the garden,out popped a bunch of voles.I hit and killed them with the shovel.After that i went around to the other bales and killed the others,or the slower ones at least.They are really bad about mowing down young seedlings.There are a couple of things thatr help with this;sprinkle the seedlings with wood ashes until they are bigger(they won't bother tomatoes)or mix human urine half and half with water and water the plants with this using a watering can.You can put cayenne pepper in there too.Repeat after every rain.This keeps our goats from eating the plants,too,so it may also work with deer.Contrary to what people say,I have not noticed that snakes help get rid of voles at all.

-- Rebekah (, January 03, 2000.

Thanks for the reply Rebekah. That makes a lot of sense. I too had a few bales of hay setting around the garden. When I did my Fall clean- up, I broke up the bales and tossed them on the garden. There were a few small critters underneath of them that looked like mice, but they had very short tails. I think I'll keep the extra bales away from the garden, so the voles won't have free room and board, and my food!.

-- Sharon (, January 04, 2000.

We'll be watching for more good remedies for this problem. We can grow no root plant! They are all eaten and we've spent hours and hours planting potatoes for nothing! We don't have a cat and we're thinking that may be a help. Here turnips, carrots, flower bulbs...everything is eaten. Last fall a freind was throwing out some garlic that went bad, lots of it. I took it and put it all over our asparagas bed, since that has tunnels all through it as well and we get very little product. It smells terrible and nothing bothers his garlic so we figured it might work. Also we commonly put a moth ball in with our bulbs when planting and that seems to work too but you can't do that w/ food.

-- Bob Ambrozaitis (, January 06, 2000.

How about laying chicken wires under the ground in a raised bed so the critters can't get into your patch. Or any wires thick enough so they cannot bite thru and small enough holes so they cannot dig in. That should protect your tubers for a bounty harvest this season.

-- timmy (, January 07, 2000.

I checked with our Amish friends here in Lancaster County,PA.... CATS vs VOLES=gardener wins every time...please neuter or spay your farm cats..they kill the voles anyway and do not get out of hand themselves.Good luck !

-- Lesley Chasko (, January 07, 2000.

A good way to get rid of moles (don't know if it works on voles) is to put a piece of jucie fruit gum in the "run". It will take care of them Grant

-- Grant Eversoll (, January 08, 2000.

I forgot to say that there are certain plants that the voles will not bother. Daffodils and narcissus,also crown imperials are poisonous to the varmints. I have thought about planting a border all the way around the beds that I grow root crops in. If they are eating tulip bulbs,interplant with daffodils. They seem to leave onions and garlic alone,so last year I planted onions with the carrots aand other root crops,and it really seemed to help. They also seem to avoid the tomato roots, but will run along the ground and eat holes oout of all thhe tomatoes they can reach-just as they are turning ripe. Trellis the tomatoes for this problem. They seem to leave turnips and rutabagas alone, though I'm sure if they were hungry they would eat them,too. It is a good idea to harvest the root crops as soon as they are ready and you will have less loss that way. You can store them in a vole proof place. Planting "enough for everybody" does NOT work. They simply multiply faster on the abundant food source, and then eat more. We don't bother growing potatoes anymore. Now,ducks will kill and eat voles and give yoou good eggs besides, so I have cosidered making a garden for the root crops that has a duck run all the way around it.This would cut down on the bugs,too. Ducks love potato bugs! The voles seem to save the jerusalem artichokes for really hard times when there is nothing else to eat, so I think they don't like them as well. You can grow these and harvest them when they are ready.They will usually eat them in the winter and early spring.

-- Rebekah Leaf (, January 11, 2000.

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