BOSTON — Pest- and wildlife-control issues seem to be an ongoing concern in the questions posed to our Resident Experts. The editors got an earful of dissenting voices, and other solutions, after we published some suggestions for dealing with moles in lawns (Oct. 14).
Coexistence is the best policy
I read your advice on what to do about moles and was very upset by the cruel suggestion to feed them chewing gum. Having been brought up on "Wind in the Willows," I am devoted, like millions of British, to Mr. Mole. My family in Norfolk have had moles in their lawn for generations, and it just makes a little pile of crumbly soil, which flattens when you next mow.
I think we should try and cohabit harmoniously with these creatures and not be so fussy about cosmetics in the garden.
Chewing gum doesn't work
In Oregon we have three varieties of moles; as a Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener and organic vegetable grower, I have fought them all for years.
Summary: Smoke and percussion bombs, castor oil and ammonia mixes, gum, and human hair are ultimately ineffective due to the size of the tunnel systems. Flooding will work if you have a large well pump on a 1-1/2-in. line - volume counts - you must get the water in faster than the soil will drain it. But these are all temporary. The same moles come back.
The most effective, and semipermanent, method of mole control is trapping - the Victor out-of-sight scissor trap works for me. This requires the usual things: patience, observation, digging down to find the main tunnels, which are quite a bit below the "feeding tunnels," and determination to get out there every day and take a look around, stomp down the mounds, and see the pattern of where they are.
And any system one uses must be monitored, since new moles will move in at some point, so paying attention is necessary.
Another solution for musty odors
Thanks for your suggestions on how to deal with musty odors (Sept. 9). I lived for a time in Vermont and had a dirt cellar floor. The neighbors told me to sprinkle Epsom salts on the floor, which would soak up the moisture. And it helped. No more musty smell.
When I moved to Florida, I placed small dishes of Epsom salts in closets, in closed drawers, and on the floor under the bed. No musty smell.