Controlling Moles the Organic Way
For many years, gardeners have planted castor bean or mole bean in their garden space. The plant produced seeds that would be placed in the mole’s holes with a hope that the mole would eat the seed. The seed from this plant is very poisonous and contains ricin. This chemical is said to be 1,000 times more toxic than cobra venom. While most moles will not eat the bean, many commercial repellants are made with a high concentration of castor oil. The castor bean or mole bean is where this substance comes from.
Castor bean or mole bean is known as Ricinus communis and belongs to the spurge family. Its native home is Africa where it grows into a 40-foot tall tree. When this plant is grown as an annual, it can reach heights of 10 foot.
The vegetation on this annual is unique. The star-shaped leaves can grow to the size of garbage can lids and has a reddish tinge that outlines the leaf margin. Seeds of the castor bean plant resemble a large tick and are housed in three-celled, spiny capsules that is supported on a red stalk that is one foot in height.
The striking appearance of this plant makes it a perfect backdrop plant for any annual flowerbed. It also creates a wonderful and unusual privacy screen.
Another plant that is known to repel moles is the mole plant or caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyris). This plant is a very striking plant, which bears lanced shaped leaves. The leaves have an exquisite white vein that runs down the middle of each leaf.
To use this plant as a mole repellant requires the gardener to cut the stem. This will release the milky white sap. The smell of this sap is what many believe actually repels moles.
The wood hyacinth or scilla is another plant that can be used to repel moles. To make this effective, one must plant wood hyacinth around susceptible plants as a garden border. Keep in mind though, that while this plant repels moles it also adds a colorful touch to any garden space with its white, lavender, blue, and pink bell-shaped flowers.
A homemade repellant can be made from mint. To create your own mole repellant starts with a big handful of mint and a little water. Both of these are placed in a blender or food processor and processed until smooth. The mint and water is then placed in a large pot of water and boiled for 30 minutes. Enough water should be added to the large pot to make six gallons of the mole repellant. Once it has cooked, cool the liquid and them pour on and around the molehills. If the soil is dry, water the mint liquid into the ground. Repeat often. It is believed that moles do not like the scent of mint and will leave the area.
If you do not want to plant any additional plant material nor do you want to have to apply a repellant, there does exist other organic choices. These include a sonic mole chaser and glass bottles. Both work about the same but the principle behind both is sound. The sonic mole chaser emits a sonic sound every 30 seconds while the glass bottles depend on the wind. Both of these techniques are set up on and around molehills. They are also used around susceptible plant material.
To set up the sonic mole chaser, follow the directions on the package. On the other hand, the glass bottles are simply buried in the ground with the neck of the bottle sticking above the soil line. As the wind blows across the opening, it will create a sound but be careful with this technique especially if you are using it in turf. Many gardeners have forgotten about the bottles and mowed over them. To avoid this, always mark the location of the bottles with brightly colored flags.
Moles can be very destructive not only to a lawn but also in a flowerbed. The techniques described above provide information on organic ways of handling this pest.