The Gardenator

How do I keep gophers and other critters out of my garden?
—Topo-Gigio Teresa, Santa Ynez

As a professional landscaper, Gustavo the Gardenator doesn’t just make gopher-proof vegetable gardens — he aims to make gardens that are fireproof, bulletproof, and illegal-immigration-proof, as well.

Follow these steps “para que esos topos c no traguen las legumbres” — so those darn gophers don’t eat your vegetables.

1) Measure the rectangle where you’d like to put the garden.

2) Use wood 4x4s on the corners “pa’que se macizo” — so that the vegetable box is strong. Nail 8″ wood tablets to the sides to complete the rectangle.

3) Use “alambre chiquita,” which is small-grid wire mesh, on the bottom. Cover the bottom surface, and nail it every three inches to the sides of the 8″ wood tablets.

4) Use wood 2x4s as posts, and wrap 25 inches of chicken-wire mesh around your rectangle.

5) Fill your box halfway to the top with dirt, and then add good soil. Gustavo uses Kellogg Garden Organics Topper. A vegetable fortress the size of a full-sized mattress is about three to four sacks.

6) Mix your soil with a shovel, and plant your seeds or little plantlings.

Gustavo says May is a good time to plant because it is a “tiempo de calor.” He also mentions that it’s a good idea to install a drip system because of the drought. You can grow whatever you want, from tomatoes and zucchini to eggplant and cilantro, and go to sleep assured that your green little children are safe.

Gustavo Uribe is a fifth-generation agricultural specialist who has worked as a professional gardener in Santa Barbara for more than 30 years. His son, Gustavo Jr., writes this column. Send your gardening questions to


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