Category Archives: summer

Moles, Voles, Trails and Holes!

Just when your lawn and gardens are looking like golf courses and doing spectacular- flowers blooming, veggies growing, grasses pluming…along come the yearly voles and moles.  They are the nemesis of our hard work and dedication.  What do we do?  First, determine vole or mole.  They are different.  They are both @$%^@#! but are different in appetite.

Moles – About 7” long, long tail, long noses and webbed front feet, which are ideal for digging tunnels.  Moles are insect eaters, like grubs, worms and other pesky things underground.  Typically they are not seen as they remain underground.  Any trails you may see from moles are “excuse me” trails, just passing through looking for food.  However, if they do come a little closer to the surface and with their appetite, they can ruin a lawn fairly quickly.

Mole Remedies:

  1. Killing them is the most effective for long term control. Traps and various poison baits are readily available.
  1. The humane method is to bait a type of Havahart trap and release somewhere where they won’t cause trouble.
  1. And last but not least….Deterent. Because moles feed on grubs and worms, etc., ridding your yard of grubs with a grub killer or Milky Spore, will help a little, but worms and other tasty critters remain.  A castor oil based mixture applied to the lawn is a popular choice to repel, but once the scent is gone, they could be back to known territory.  There are commercial mixtures available or you can create your own castor oil solution to spray.

 p.s. Killing the grubs can help save your lawn.  Grubs love grass roots.

 

Voles – About 5” long and similar to mice, with shorter tails. Voles have eyes and ears that you can see. They feast on plants, grass and annual/perennial-flower roots.  Seeds and bulbs are a favorite snack for them.  Veggie plants too.  Voles can make quick work of a plant or roots in a hurry.  Unlike moles, voles multiply rapidly, so immediate intervention is key.

Vole Remedies:

  1. Spring type mouse traps work well, with some peanut butter or slivered apple slices. Place them at the entrance and exit holes, if you can locate them or along the active tunnels.
  1. As with moles, a humane method is to trap with baited Havahart traps and relocate, far, far away.
  1. Have a cat? Perfect vole hunter.
  1. A variety of poison baits are available to rid the critters. They are typically applied into the entrance and exit holes and covered with a little dirt and tamped down.
  1. There is a selection of repellents like Liquid Fence, Plantskyyd and hot-pepper liquid concoctions that can be effective at keeping voles from tunneling into the beds and eating your plants. However, after a rain, you have to reapply.

 

Then you have the tried and tested home remedies that have been around for years!  None with science to confirm, but you never know.  A lot of these apply to both voles and moles, or not.

  • Flooding the tunnels
  • Mothballs
  • Course crushed sea shells into the holes or tunnels
  • Sonic tubes. The thought is that the vibrations in the ground from the sonic waves will deter voles.  However, the effectiveness will be minimal in sandy soil due to lesser obstructions in the ground for the waves to bounce around.
  • Grandpop’s old work socks! (Not quite sure)
  • There are others, but they require fire and gasses…….NOT recommended.

TIP:  If you plan to construct/install raised flower or vegetable beds, line the bottom with 1/4” steel mesh prior to filling with soil.  The mesh is available in rolls at your local home improvement store.  It comes in rolls and is pretty easy to work with.  This will help greatly.

Should you find the need to repair your lawn from vole or mole damage, Secluded Acres has all your seed, fertilizer and soil needs.

Good Luck!  We all need it.

Submitted by Rick, vexed by voles and maddened by moles

Water, Weed, Feed…Repeat!

As spring shifts into summer, the days grow longer and temperatures rise. The beach beckons and the boardwalk bustles. But your garden does not have to suffer through summer. Follow these simple tips to keep your flowers blooming and plants producing well into fall.

Be Water Wise! Since our summers tend to be hot and dry, it’s important to water regularly.  Containers and hanging baskets with small soil bases and good drainage will not hold water for long, so it is necessary to water daily (sometimes twice a day!). Although established perennials, shrubs, and trees manage with less water, new plantings will need to be watered through the first (and sometimes second) growing seasons. Rather than watering quickly every day, take time to water more deeply a few times through the week. Short waterings, regardless of frequency, result in shallow surface roots that are always searching for the next splash of water to come along. Instead, longer waterings push the roots deeper into the soil, stretching after the water as it soaks down. Most importantly, remember your plants are living things and need water to survive, just like you and me.

Watch the Weeds! Get out and pull the weeds every so often to keep the pesky plants from strangling and overgrowing your desirable plants.

Got Fertilizer? When planting, you may begin with a potting mix or garden soil that includes a fertilizer.  Although most soil packages note their product feeds for three months or more, it is helpful to add even more slow-release granules through the growing season.  Espoma, a local (Millville, NJ!) organic fertilizer company, offers many slow-release, non-burning plant foods such as Plant-Tone, Flower-Tone, Garden-Tone and Tomato-Tone to name a few.  These fertilizers can be applied one to two times per month throughout the growing season (always read the label for specifics!) You can also boost blooms and promote green growth by using a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro, every 1-2 weeks. The liquid fertilizer will be absorbed quickly by the roots and begin moving through the plant to replenish nutrients.  It is best to apply at the base of your plants, in the morning, before the high heat and humidity of the day sets in.  Finally, after watering with a liquid fertilizer, remember to rinse off with fresh, clean water to avoid burning of leaves and flowers.

Time for a Haircut! At some points in the summer, you’ll find some perennials and many annuals, particularly trailing plants such as Million Bells and Petunias, look as though they are fizzling in the heat (Let’s face it, even we feel that way some days!). To keep these annuals looking their best, it’s time to begin regular “haircuts.” Although you may be afraid to take scissors or shears to your annuals for fear of cutting off the flourishing flowers, trimming back long-hanging stems encourages new green growth and more beautiful blooms. Go ahead and give it a try. Start by making small snips and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

If you grow into the habit of following these simple steps, your flowers should survive through summer and flourish well into fall! Just remember, water, weed, feed…repeat! And, work in a haircut every so often!

Bee Pollinator Friendly!

Pollinator Week 2016

Did you know? It’s Pollinator Week!

In recent years, there have been an alarming number of reports on the struggling statuses of bees and butterflies. But with a little guidance, we can try to do our part in helping rebuild the pollinator populations!

Tips for Planting a Pollinator Friendly Garden

  • Pick a sunny spot. Did you know insects are cold-blooded? Therefore, they need to warm up their bodies to fly well.
  • Cluster nectar plants in large groups so they can be seen from greater distances.
  • Plant a variety of native plants that bloom at different times so the adults have a steady supply of nectar and pollen.
  • Include food sources, also called host plants, in your garden so butterflies have a place to lay their eggs and the caterpillars have leaves to eat. (Butterfly Weed will draw Monarchs!)
  • Some Pollinators like bright colors such as red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple.
  • Avoid using heavy chemicals in your garden and on your lawn. These products can kill pollinators and other beneficial insects in both their larval and adult phases.

A short list of Perennials for Pollinators

Plant Name Nectar Source Host Plant Bloom Time Exposure
Agastache- Hyssop Yes No July-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Beardtongue Yes No May-July Full Sun/Part Shade
Bee Balm Yes No May-July Full Sun/Part Shade
Black Eyed Susan Yes No July-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Cardinal Flower Yes No July-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Chelone- Turtlehead Yes Yes August-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Coneflower Yes Yes July-October Full Sun/Part Shade
Garden Phlox Yes No July-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Goldenrod Yes No August-October Full Sun
Joe Pye Weed Yes No August-September Full Sun/Part Shade
Milkweed Yes Yes June-August Full Sun/Part Shade
Threadlead Coreopsis Yes No June-July Full Sun

So if you’d like to help rebuild the pollinator populations, keep these tips and perennials in mind when planting. With a little planning and patience, soon bees will be buzzing and butterflies fluttering around your garden.