Hello, again!

Here we are again...today is Groundhog Day. February 2 is the day we find out if we're in for six more weeks of winter or if spring is just around the corner. Only a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil knows for sure. Each year on Groundhog Day, people flock to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to await the forecast of the local rodent celebrity.

Originating with German settlers who came to Pennsylvania in the 1700s and brought their seasonal superstitions with them, legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow on February 2, the winter chill will continue. Oddly, if the weather is cloudy, and he doesn’t see his shadow, we can expect warmer temperatures and early spring. Although Groundhog Day is a tradition to be cherished (and a classic film starring Bill Murray), studies have proven no strong correlation between the groundhog spotting its own shadow and the actual arrival of spring.

For the past couple of months, the conversation in Wichita has been on another couple of var mints visiting our area, sparking even more attention than Punxsutawney Phil has received today. While they have different classifications officially, for the sake of conversation, I tend to lump together groundhogs, gophers and moles.

Simply put, gophers are herbivores, which means they only eat vegetation. They especially love the roots and tubers of plants but will occasionally resort to “grazing” the lawn for grass, clover, and other snacks. Moles are carnivores not herbivores, which means they eat meat and not plants. Plants are just a nuisance in the mole's hot pursuit of their next meal of earthworms, grubs and other soil creatures. They also won't eat seeds. It is pretty simple to differentiate them by their travel patterns and the evidence of their presence. Gophers make mounds at the soil surface; moles make tunnels.

Neither gophers nor moles are difficult to combat or repel. Easy-to-use ferti-lome MoleGo will send moles, gophers and other small rodents away from your lawn, garden, or flower beds. You can use it anytime when moles are spotted. MoleGo also repels armadillos, skunks, voles, ground squirrels, and yes, even groundhogs. You can have confidence that this product is safe around people and pets when used as directed. There are other options for controlling these rodents, like traps, gas and other remedies. Ask in store for more details.

Now is also a great time to test your lawn or garden soil. We have basic soil testing kits in the store, or for professional testing, pick up a DIY SoilKit and send a soil sample to a professional lab at Soilkit.com. SoilKit provides all the supplies needed for quick and easy soil collection. Your soil will be tested by one of the nation's leading agricultural labs. They process the lab report and provide easy to understand results with soil treatment recommendations to keep your lawn and garden healthy. Here's a video to show you how easy it is: SoilKit: How it Works.

Stop in and see us. We are happy to help answer any questions you have about your lawn, garden or any pests that may be lingering around!

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center