Instructables

Mole-proof Potato Cage

Around Spring of 2008 I started noticing molehills in my yard and around the house. Then I noticed a few in my little backyard garden. I was a little annoyed, but that was nothing compared to how I felt when they got INTO the raised beds! Out of five whole potato plants, I got to eat 3, count them three whole potatoes. When the first plant started dying I was curious, so I carefully pulled it up. Lo and behold, not only did I have a potato plant with no potatoes, but I exposed a whole network of underground tunnels! Grrrr!!!

My brilliant idea was to build a potato cage. Unlike a tomato cage, the potato cage is underground. Very simple to do!
 
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Step 1: Gather what ye need...or...Mountains out of Mole hills

Picture of Gather what ye need...or...Mountains out of Mole hills
Gathering what you'll need:
Hardware mesh (I picked 1/2 inch as my garden dirt is lumpy and I did not want air pockets to form as the ground settles after I bury my cage. Hopefully, it is still small enough mesh to keep out the vermin!) Mine cost around $7.50 at Lowes.

Wire cutters. Usually there is some form of a wire cutter on your pliers, but really, you should have a dedicated tool for this.

A roll of wire (gauge unknown, just something you can cut and weave through the mesh)
OR
Small zip ties (in case you run out of wire)

Step 2: Measuring Up

Pick the spot you want to put your plants and measure. Here it is roughly 41 inches. I decided that I only need approximately a foot more on either side, for a total of 65 inches.

Carefully unwrap the wire holding the mesh in a roll. You will use this later to wire the pieces together. Measure and cut 65 inches from the roll of mesh.

jtobako5 years ago
I have had galvanize wire rust, how many years do you think this will last? Can you just lift the cage to harvest the potatoes? (around here, it's all sand, clay soil probably wouldn't work at all)
sgsidekick (author)  jtobako5 years ago
That size cage, full of dirt, would be difficult to lift. Maybe with 2 or 3 or 4 folks with strong backs. But just as easy to pull the plants up like you normally would. I'd think to get maybe 4 years of use from this particular cage, maybe longer. I have every confidence that it will work, so when the moles (if they're still around) get my potatoes again, then I'll know the cage structure has finally failed.
And the roots would grow through the cage.
sgsidekick (author)  Yerboogieman5 years ago
Some may, but the way I'm growing is similar to a potato tower (which I just built and planted today! Instructable to come). As the plant grows, you backfill with more dirt, going up the stem but leaving the leaves free. You continue to do this as the potato plant grows, and you'll keep the potatoes inside the cage.
This gives me ideas but, you should make an instructable on how to grow Purple Potatoes, i started mine by wrapping them in paper towels and growing them a bit in my kitchen, they are getting pretty big.
sgsidekick (author)  Yerboogieman5 years ago
I haven't tried growing purple potatoes. My big fight at the moment is getting ANY potatoes from the darned moles! I planted today in my cage, but I planted 2 hills OUTside the cage for the moles, just to show I'm not a totally cold-hearted person. . .
lemonie5 years ago
There were some fat moles squeezing their way around under your garden I guess? L
sgsidekick (author)  lemonie5 years ago
Oh yeah! Moles AND Voles, according to the critter gitter. I decided not to pay him to exterminate. They charged by the hill, and there are a LOT of hills. Besides, m&vs are just trying to live like the rest of us. Maybe if I deny them MY veggies they'll go somewhere else!
And did they (go somewhere else) or is it too early to say? L
sgsidekick (author)  lemonie5 years ago
Too early to say yet. Raining, and I don't want to dig in the rain as it will change the soil structure, compacting it where I don't want it compacted. Have to wait a few days.