[permaculture] more on voles

Dieter Brand diebrand at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 4 05:16:03 EDT 2010


Thanks for you thoughtful post on voles.  

Regarding voles and forest soil, I have been wondering about this for some time and am glad that you confirm it.  Could it be that they dislike a fungal soil environment?  I have been feeding some of our garden with woody mulches of shredded branches for several years with the result that I get a lot of mushrooms growing there.  I can’t say for sure, but I sometimes have the impression that there are fewer voles in these areas.

The other thing I have been wondering about without coming to a conclusion is the relation between voles and moles.  I think voles are very territorial and won’t share a tunnel system with other animals.  But I did notice that moles will often use existing tunnel systems made by voles.  The question is: do the moles drive out the voles or is it vice-a-versa?  Anyways, I think it’s a good idea not to discourage moles.

Dieter Brand

--- On Wed, 11/3/10, Rain Tenaqiya <raincascadia at yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: Rain Tenaqiya <raincascadia at yahoo.com>
> Subject: [permaculture] more on voles
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 6:59 PM
> As with any permaculture design, you
> need to start by figuring out what your goals are, and what
> inputs you are willing and/or able to invest in the system,
> comparing the carbon footprint of the different options. 
> As most people have stated in recent posts, killing the
> voles is the only guarantee, using cats (there are some dog
> varieties that may work, but the costs may not be worth it),
> traps, or even short-lived and nonbioaccumulating poisons. 
> However, all the other things mentioned can also be part of
> a wholistic design.  These things include wire fencing
> underground and six inches above, gravel or broken glass
> around roots, vibrators, or planting species which voles
> don't like near the target plants.  Other preventative
> measures (some of which contradict common permaculture
> gardening practices) include avoiding mulch, clover, and
> other groundcovers, keeping surrounding areas as close to
> bare as possible, and designing irrigation methods that
>  minimize vole damage (for example, using a gravel filled
> hole or pipe to irrigate below the level of vole
> activity).  Over time, a dense food forest without
> vole-preferred groundcovers such as grass and clover would
> not have much food to offer voles.  In general, there is
> less vole activity in forests, something to consider in
> designing gardens (less edge is better in this case, as is
> often true, contradicting lazy permaculture maxims).
> All of these methods require ongoing observation and
> adjustment.  For example, a friend recently told me about
> voles eating all the roots that grew beyond the very large
> wire cage a fruit tree was planted into, killing the tree. 
> Voles are especially active in recently loosened soil, so
> the first year after planting is often the most crucial
> one.  On the other hand, it is helpful to remember that
> voles are often the basis for the wild predators in the
> surrounding ecosystem and also perform the useful functions
> of aerating and mixing the soil.  They also maintain
> grasslands by killing young trees and shrubs, thus reducing
> fire danger (and, unfortunately, preventing the spread of
> forest which would fix carbon, another complex topic).
> Let us know what works for you,
> Rain
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