This year Greg and I thought about what we wanted for Christmas and decided that our gifts should have something to do with fitness. One day I was driving past the Ojai Lumber Yard and saw a sign for pre-made, gopher-proof planter boxes. Since the extraordinary number of gophers in the back yard of our new home is the reason we have thought twice about starting a vegetable garden, I decided to stop and see what the lumber yard had come up with.
Beautiful planter boxes lined on the bottom with chicken wire were stacked outside the office. The owner told me they had made a few custom boxes for someone a few years ago, and the demand was so big they started making and carrying them as a sideline to their main business. Given the huge number and legendary determination of the gophers in Ojai, I could see why this had become a thriving sideline for the lumber yard.
Christmas was coming in a month, so when I got home I told Greg I wanted two of these boxes for my present, and I would get him the dirt and vegetables for his present. He thought this was a great idea but balked at the cost, so he got on the Internet and found a special deal for unassembled boxes. Instead of the 2 boxes I was thinking of, he got 6 kits – and this became our project on Christmas day. Greg and Kevin assembled the boxes and I documented the project photographically.
The boxes are now assembled and lined up perfectly in our diamond pattern. Greg bought the chicken wire today, so we should have 6 boxes ready for planting in a few days. I am researching winter vegetables that can withstand freezing temperatures at night, and soon we will be happily nurturing our precious little plants.
We all had a good laugh while the boxes were being assembled about how the gophers might outsmart us. We pictured them watching us work, and discussing among themselves about how best to break into these fortresses. Everyone who uses this method says the gophers cannot get through the chicken wire on the bottom, and typically one does not see gophers walking around and climbing things. After all, their world is underground. I thought about this and said that we must be careful not to leave any wood and tools out, as the gophers would probably build little ladders to breach the walls of our vegetable fortresses. (I am, after all, a writer with a rich imagination who writes about talking cats.)
We may be laughing now, but Greg has been battling gophers for many years, and so far the results have been leaning in favor of the gophers. I have seen carrots pulled under the ground right in front of my eyes, and the stories of what these little creatures can do are legend around here. Stay tuned for our own Ojai version of Caddyshack.