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General information and discussion about cultivating onions, garlic, shallots and leeks.

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Old July 6, 2019   #1
habitat_gardener
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Default onions, garlic, and gophers

Onions and garlic have always been easy crops for me: plant in December or January. harvest in May. This year, the gophers beat me to it. By mid-April, I noticed some of my onions had not survived at the community garden. Then all the Walla Wallas were gone. By the time I figured out that this particular gopher had developed a taste for onions, half of the 100 I'd planted (5 varieties) were gone. The ones that remained were still small, but I picked them anyway. April seemed way too early to be thinking about gopher predation!

I had hardware cloth under most of the garlic, but that, too, started disappearing before the bulbs had sized up. They were barely the size of marbles. Some were munched from the top, others from the bottom, so it could have been several critters.When I dug up that bed, however, there was a gopher tunnel running right under the hardware cloth!

So for next winter, I'm wondering if it makes more sense to plant in containers at home, or to try to plant everything in hardware cloth (I have a big pile of it that was going to get recycled). I have mounded raised beds, without borders.

Do gophers also like beets and turnips and rutabagas? They seem to have stayed away from the beds that have brassicas, but I wonder if that's coincidental.

I'm not interested in hunting them down. That would make gardening a dreaded activity rather than a joy.
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Old July 6, 2019   #2
PhilaGardener
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Sorry to hear of your experience - those gophers seem to have developed quite a taste for these


I find these critters to be very problematic. In addition to covering under your raised beds (which you already are doing), can you fence in your beds? A strong, welded-wire fence was the only way I could keep groundhogs out of my garden.


Good luck!
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Old July 6, 2019   #3
Worth1
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Gophers are horrible big time and smart too.
You need a gopher cat.
They in a way are like Polar bears.
They will sit at a hole and wait for one to come out and eat it.
Just like Polar bears do at Seal holes on the ice.
Now a gopher dog is a whole different story but a good one won't dig up the garden.

I have had both cat and dog that went after gophers.
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Old July 6, 2019   #4
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I find onions and especially garlic are not very efficient to plant in containers, so I would say no to that. They require quite a deep container to do well, especially the garlic, so you end up needing a decent amount of not only surface area but also potting mix volume. I have had some good success with shallots in fairly shallow ones however.
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Old July 8, 2019   #5
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Garlic does alright for me in 4 gal containers. Onions not so much.

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Old July 8, 2019   #6
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The sonic spike works on moles, I do not have a gopher problem. This is the way I do it.


I want the moles in my garden during the summer months because they eat the slugs and cutworms and such, but around February or March the sonic spike goes in to protect garlic and onions. I take it out in May and let the moles back in.



https://www.victorpest.com/victor-so...ic-spike-m9014


Good Luck
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Old July 8, 2019   #7
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The spike works? I had a sonic boombox for rats that was not cheap that did not work. I have a friend with a neighbour who swears that when he tried a unit for rats at his place that he started getting a lot of snakes hanging around. Mine attracted no snakes and seemed to have no effect on rats. I'm glad to hear that it works well on something!
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Old July 8, 2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrowingCoastal View Post
Garlic does alright for me in 4 gal containers. Onions not so much.
wow! Beautiful garlic! How many do you grow in a container?
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Old July 8, 2019   #9
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I wonder if the sonic spike would work for gophers here. The only thing is that, at the community garden, placing it where I would not step on it and it would not attract enough attention to get stolen might be tricky.

A nearby community garden is bordered by houses that have outdoor cats. Every time I walk past that garden, a cat comes out looking for attention every 20 feet or so. I heard they didn't have rat problems there last year, even though there were a couple chicken houses, but I haven't heard if gophers are a problem there.

I was also thinking of moving to another part of the community garden (it's really big), farther from the fields that the gophers come from.
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Old July 8, 2019   #10
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i am surprised anything goes after the garlic. garlic is the only crop i can grow that doesn't require protection from deer, my biggest garden muncher or rabbits.
i would be wary of growing any below ground bulb with your present problem.
keep the critters out or container grow what you can.
good luck



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Old July 8, 2019   #11
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I have a few tomatoes growing in 15 gal. pots, so I could use those pots and soil for winter crops.
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Old July 10, 2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by habitat_gardener View Post
wow! Beautiful garlic! How many do you grow in a container?
Hi. I grow four or five per 4 gal pot depending on the variety. Yes it is beautiful garlic. Here we have wet winters so the soil has to be well draining.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
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I'd like to try growing a few bulbls in buckets, particularly marginally hardy varieties, inside an unheated 3 seasons porch. December temps are predicted to be far below normal. What potting medium did you use in the buckets? Did you add any special fertilizers? It will be a challenge to keep the soil moist when I am not there to monitor, but worth a try.


A few years I gave garlic buckets a try inside the cabin in a cooler dark room. Results were abscent! Maybe they were kept too wet to overcome lack of attention.


- Lisa
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #14
bower
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Lisa, Freezing temperatures are necessary for the garlic to sprout. Maybe that was the problem inside the cabin?
I would plant into a moist soil and mulch it to keep from losing too much. If you have a chance during the winter, pile some snow on top instead of watering. That would simulate the natural conditions outdoors.
Another alternative, the right container can be used outdoors in the winter, in a sheltered spot. Big problem is, they have to drain perfectly or you can kill the garlic with standing water on frozen ground if you get a winter thaw with rain. I think the best pots for wintering outdoors are the ones they use for shrubs and trees in nurseries. That is flexible stuff with well placed large drainage holes, and seems to drain well in the worst conditions.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
greenthumbomaha
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And tonight is the first snow 1-2 inches... no more last minute planting!



My mistake at the cabin was likely soggy potting soil. I overdid the watering so I could spread out my trips. The unheated room was cool, but I think you are correct it was not frozen. The cloves never broke ground though. I started indoors to give the cloves a warmer temp to start, then got lazy about hauling them to the garage where it gets as cold as outdoors. These were 4 gal frosting buckets with holes drilled on the bottom. Drain holes were not as big as tree pots but the buckets were deep enough for the roots to spread. Best of all they come to me already cleaned, and free when they have extras.

I also started small pots with normal peat and crammed a few cloves in, but those didn't thrive due to a lack of water when I was away. They dry quickly when unmonitored, even in a cool shady inside spot.

I'm chicken to grow outside in nursery pots this year, hence the semi protected porch. I saved one temperamental Asian Tempest bulb for safekeeping in a pot. Too much variability in temps, soggy or drying out when I'm not there to monitor. Even blowing over in a really bad storm. If I have to play mother nature, it will be easier for me to water on the sheltered porch. Too cold it gets a tiny bit of protection, with sun warming the pot thru the thin windows. Its going to be a rough winter, so says the meteorologist. Farmers are saying the cattle coats are so heavy they think it is a different cattle variety.

- Lisa

Last edited by greenthumbomaha; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:20 AM.
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