Either the chicken wire holes are too big too, or there was a weakness in the construction of the baskets. I was devastated when checked on my North Plot to find holes in the center of two baskets where healthy, happy milkweeds once were. The gophers are trying to get into the others too – so far, unsuccessfully. I see holes and mounds adjacent to all the other baskets as well. Next year, we will be planting them in metal mesh and see how that holds up.
Several of the remaining plants are beginning to die back for the winter. The daytime temps have been unseasonably warm, but the nighttime temps have been fairly cold – in the 50s. I continue to water, per Ron’s instructions, to ensure the root system has enough moisture to be able to come back next year.
With the new gopher attack in the North plus the attrition I’ve mentioned on this blog previously, it brings down my milkweed census in the North Plot to 5 visible plants. In the South Plot, there was only one visible plant until yesterday. This little guy (photo above) emerged from the soil. This was one of the baskets where there was no hole, but the plant was clipped from above. As Ron said, milkweed roots are alive under the soil even if the plant looks dead or there is just a stick above ground. Hopefully, the gophers don’t get this little guy. I may try to dig it out and place it in a new chicken wire basket. I will need to ask Ron if that kind of shock during the Fall will kill it.
Below are the latest species map updates: