Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: The Gopher state
You know, I hadn’t really that too much about Minnesota being called the Gopher State. I didn’t attend the University of Minnesota, so have no real desire to wear a gopher t-shirt; and as a gardener, well, I’ve generally been more inclined to do battle with the little rodents. However, I just came across an article from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum called “The Aerator of the Plains”. (scroll to page 7 for the article)
All hail (or Oh Hell) the Pocket Gopher
From the above photo you can see how they aerate the soil – and damage your lawn! ugh.
A study in Yellowstone National Park estimated that one little pocket gopher may excavate as much as five tons of soil each year. Whoa, okay, I’m impressed with their work ethic. Their underground tunnels can run up to 500 feet in length. The soil that is pushed above ground increases plant regeneration and distribution and allows rainfall and snowmelt to more efficiently permeate the soil. AND their tunnels are some to snakes, mice and ground squirrels. Again, not my favorite critters but they DO have a purpose.
Shoshone Indians believed gophers were medicine animals that could cause or cure sickness.