I was delighted to see Ted Mills' "Rose Doc" article "Voluminous Voles" in the September/October 2013 issue of American Rose. Ted's articles are always great and are just one of the many benefits of belonging to the American Rose Society.
Ted does an excellent job of describing voles and why they are such a pain for all rosarians, especially those of us in the north who winter protect our beds and thereby inadvertently create winter habitats with unlimited tender food for these ravenous little creatures. If you've ever had an entire rose bed destroyed by voles totally girdling the canes of every rose, right at ground level, you know exactly what I mean.
Ted gives some good suggestions and warnings about using rodent poison and mentions a product that I hadn't heard about and an am going to look for: Shake Away Rodent Repellent, but he apparently hasn't heard about the best repellent of all: Castor Oil!
I published an article "Voles!" in October 2012, which mentions many of the same things Ted does and also provides some pictures in living color of these nasty little critters. I also provided everything you need to know about using castor oil as a vole repellent, as well as a very good video on the subject from a New Hampshire hosta nurseryman. Here is my article:
I also published a follow-on article: "More About Voles and Castor Oil" in November 2012. And here is that article:
I have been using castor oil, mixed with soap and water, on my beds for the last few years, and I believe I can now say with certainty that it does repel voles. Just be sure to use it liberally in all of your beds and the voles will go elsewhere. Remember, however, that "elsewhere" might be somewhere else in your garden; in my case last year they chewed almost all the way around the trunk of a new flowering crab tree, within about 30 feet of one of my rose beds. Needless to say, I will be putting the castor oil mixture around a few other tasty plants this fall.
As always, feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 17, 2013