Friday, July 11, 2008

Mole be gone!

Ma cos'è questa pianta? (What is this plant?) I think my father-in-law already knows that whenever I show a keen interest in something, it means that I want to take it home with me. He didn't have any idea what the botanical name was, only that it was the scappa talpa plant. The plant that made moles want to pack up leave. Earlier on, we had been transplanting a few young Thessaloniki tomato bushes in the garden, a gift that I wanted to give my inlaws since I had started way too many to fit into my own garden. Of course this little planting session did not go without free advice on how to properly water the newcomers to his orto (garden).

“Don't pour water from the top! Water below. Water on the leaves acts like a magnifying glass in the sun. It'll make too much heat on the leaves, you understand?” he says with a smile in his eyes.

Back again to the scappa talpa plant, he told me that 10 years ago his yard was full of moles - and holes. My mother-in-law chimed in at the mention of the holes, “sono pericolosi!” (they're dangerous!). A neighbor had given them a young plant and from then on, moles be gone! But still to this day, they only refer to the bush as scappa talpa. Scappa from the verb scappare (to escape) and talpa (mole). So far we haven't had any visits from the tunnel-excavating critters, but I couldn't resist doing a bit of sleuthing on the net, and what did I find? A plant species called Euphorbia lathyrus, otherwise known as the Gopher Purge or Mole Plant.

Not bad for just 15 minutes of digging around...

16 comments:

  1. I love your new blog and your new header is so cute. Interesting information, as always, about a plant that I have never heard of before. No moles over here but I wonder how effective this plant will be against pesky neighbors??? Hmmmm, just thinking...LOL. j/k
    Aloha!

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  2. Love you new blog...have added to my google reader :-)

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  3. looking forward to seeing the garden :)

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  4. yay - more garden adventures! Thankfully, moles are not currently a problem for me (knock on wood). I've had them in the past in the area that was my garden (now too shady and filled with tree roots), but none since.

    Good luck with your new blog! I don't know how you keep up with it all!

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  5. That's a great title to a great new blog. Good Luck. Can't wait to hear how your garden grows.

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  6. Ciao ladies,
    Ha! I forgot about the comments! I'll have to redo the settings for email notification -- being that I'm using blogger's built-in format instead of installing my own code.

    Just to be clear, in no way will this blog take over my life. I've been reading how garden bloggers "document" what/when they grew and the eventual results which I think is very useful for myself and others (like myself) who have/had the notion of raising a garden. My extra touch will be the italian point of view. And of course the stuff that they like to grow!

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  7. In bocca al lupo per il nuovo blog

    MotH

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  8. Happy birthday to your new blog. My goodness you certainly can juggle a few things at one time! You go girl!

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  9. Great look for the new site! And an interesting star to start you off...
    manju

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  10. I am VERY interested in this post, because our lawns front and back have seemed like plowed fields for the past three years. Thank You!

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  11. Dario, Bella, Manju,
    You will be the first to reap the benefits of my garden (well D you already have..) -- Bella and Manju if you ever need some seeds, I'll gladly share my stash now that I realize that you don't need to plant all of the seeds at once! Not that I'm unhappy about ordering more tomato seeds, but I threw a lot of seedlings away. A little bit too trigger happy I think.

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  12. Barbee,
    If you are able to locate this plant for your yard I would be most interested to read the results. Alternatively, I wouldn't mind collecting some dried seed and sending some to you if you'd like!

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  13. Hi Rowena, Being that you are in Italy, and I in USA, that would be too expensive, I think. I did read about them and now I think they would not grow for me, because I have shade and they need sun. But, that is so sweet of you, bless your heart for thinking of it and offering them to me. I am glad they have worked well for others. Now we know how it got its name :)

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  14. Complimenti!I'm definitely glad those green thumbs of yours decided to join Blotanical, for it showed me the way to your delightful blog. I've always been intrigued by all of the Euphorbia genus but have never knew 'scappa talpa' had such magic powers. I'm in constant war with moles digging the new, modern La Manche underneath my lawn and erupting into my garden, but don't have the heart to harm the little buggers. I'm so looking forward to more of your great blog. Ti auguro una buona giornata...

    Violet

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  15. Well, I never knew the common name but if you're thinking of planting it, be careful - it is incredibly invasive. After a few years, not only won't you have any moles in the garden, you won't have anything else either.

    I planted some about six years ago, and it is still coming up regularly on the balcony despit the fact that every spring I mercilessly yank out the seedlings as soon as the appear. And I've noticed that it's now spreading all around our area. Particularly in places where I dump the old soil from the containers. Whoops ....

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  16. This is indeed a very interesting plant although I do not mind some moles around my place.

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