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This preventative measure requires the use of ½-inch hardware fabric, which can be found at most hardware stores (hardware fabric is welded wire mesh similar to "chicken wire" but has smaller hole spacing. It is available in a range of sizes from ¼-inch up and a plethora of lengths and widths.). Tools required are: tin snips (to cut wire to length), roll of utility wire (fine gage, for constructing baskets), pliers, gloves (wire is sharp), and a staple gun (for raised boxes).
I create wire baskets using the ½-inch by 3-foot wide by 25-foot long rolls of hardware fabric described above, which will make six 18-inch baskets. I use the ½-inch mesh because the ¼-inch is too fine, and the 1-inch too large ("chicken wire" is much too large). First, let me mention that some hardware stores carry relatively inexpensive pre-made wire baskets for this exact purpose. If you can find these baskets in the size you require, I would recommend purchasing them as building them yourself is time consuming and a bit of a small battle (the hardware cloth seems to always want to stab me). I try to make my baskets at least twice the current diameter of the pot of the plant to be planted up to a maximum of 18–inches across (each 18-inch diameter basket will require approximately 5 linear feet of hardware cloth).
- Cut the hardware cloth to your desired length, and then cut it again lengthwise so you have two equally sized pieces (two baskets).
- Cut two or three pieces of wire 2-inches long, flex the hardware cloth around lengthwise so its ends overlap a bit and form a cylinder. In a couple areas, bend the 2-inch pieces of wire around the ends of the mesh where they overlap to hold the cylinder together.
- Cut a section of wire approximately 24-inches long and "stitch" the basket together by looping it through the overlapping holes, cut more wire if necessary. This should result in an 18-inch diameter by 18-inch tall cylinder.
- Cut a 24-inch by 24-inch piece of hardware cloth from the roll. Flatten this piece out and lay it on the ground. Select one end of your cylinder to be the top and set the other down centered upon the 24-inch by 24-inch piece.
- Cut three or four pieces of wire 2-inches long and use them to tie the bottom piece to the cylinder. Again, cut a 24-inch piece of wire and "stitch" the bottom to the cylinder by looping the wire through the holes. Once completed, bend the excess wire projecting from the cylinder up toward the basket.
- Dig a hole of a size that will allow 3-inches of the basket to project above the surface of the soil. Following this guideline will leave enough of the basket exposed for inspection of deterioration: This is critical when using the baskets for planting seasonal plants such as tomatoes, etc. When sufficient evidence of deterioration is noted it will be time to remove the basket and install a new one. The duration of basket longevity is difficult to determine due to differing weather conditions, water composition, soil types, fertilization, basket material composition, and etc. however, 3 to 5 years should be relatively safe.
- Case, R. M., 1994. Pocket gophers: Prevention and control of wildlife damage. Department of Forestry, Fisheries
and Wildlife. University of Nebraska
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology - Animal Diversity Web
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