Encore event: Second gopher control workshop scheduled for April 6

If you offer it, they will come, and come they did to a March workshop on gopher control. So many people came, in fact, that dozens had to be turned away. As a result, the UC Santa Cruz Farm is hosting a second workshop on Saturday, April 6, for gardeners who want to learn the best ways to keep their gardens gopher-free without using poison.

Workshop leader Thomas Wittman will share his tips on controlling and excluding gophers from 10 a.m. to noon at the Louise Cain Gatehouse on the UCSC Farm. This time, if the weather cooperates, Wittman is prepared to offer the workshop outdoors to accommodate as many people as show up.

Wittman's talk will focus on nonpoison strategies of gopher control, including traps and exclusion. He'll introduce his favorite trap, cover the pros and cons of various exclusion methods, and discuss predators from domestic cats to barn owls. He'll also give you the lowdown on a range of high-priced gadgets that don't work.

Gophers are among the most destructive pests in the farm and garden. A single gopher can take out a mature apple tree, said Wittman, a partner in the Molino Creek Farming Collective and owner of Gophers, Ltd. The 25-acre UCSC Farm was trapping about 15 gophers a day at the peak of last year's summer harvest, he said.

March and April are breeding months for gophers, with females giving birth to an average of four to 10 young per litter. At about three weeks of age, when her young are capable of foraging for themselves, the mother kicks her young out of the burrow, and within four or five months, those offspring are capable of reproducing, said Wittman, whose workshop will be half lecture and half field demonstration.

Cost is $10; $5 for members of the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden. Fees are payable at the workshop. For more information, call (831) 459-3240. The workshop is cosponsored by the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems and the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden.

The UCSC Farm is located 1/4 mile up the gravel road above the Blacksmith Shop; free public parking is available across the street from the Blacksmith Shop in the Physical Plant parking lot.