This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Did the.Editor ever see a mole? If yes, did you ever see one that could by any possibility eat a bean (castor or otherwise) or nibble a grain of corn? Should such a one put in an appearance, I would be much pleased to have a look at so rare a lusus naturae; having handled moles innumerable, but never one of that sort. Moles are vermiv-orous and insectivorous, and never eat any hard substance of any kind; and we have good authority for the statement that no vegetable substance was ever found in the stomach of one. Moles burrow passages in search of grubs and worms, which mice follow and do all the mischief that may be done in the way of eating roots or planted seeds. The only mischief that moles do, unless destroying multitudes of grubs and worms be mischief, is in the tunneling of the earth, in a dry time, about the roots of plants, frequently along whole rows, for the food found in the manure spread in the furrow, thereby leaving the roots exposed and increasing the drouth. And the very means taken to save young or newly transplanted plants in such a dry time, to wit, watering, often leads to their destruction, where moles are numerous; as unless the whole ground be wet at once, the moistened spots attract worms and the moles follow in search of them, and unless discovered in time and their burrows trodden down, the plants will surely suffer.
Apropos to the subject of feeding our friends, the moles, on castor beans, I will risk the assertion and challenge proof to the contrary, that no animal in a state of nature will eat any natural substance, to its own destruction, or great injury. Poisons may be disguised to "deceive the very elect," the cap sheaf of all created things, the keystone of the animal arch, with all his boasted science; but that any animal, even the most lowly, will, in a state of nature, eat a bean (unless drugged) and die, certainly is open to proof. Certain substances are repugnant to certain animals, which may take "French leave" when such substances are placed about their haunts. Some four years ago I was informed that "Crown Imperial" planted in a field would drive away moles. I respected the source of information so far as to try the experiment, and planted three bulbs only in a two-acre field, and two in my garden. Up to that time I had been much annoyed by moles tunneling the whole ground. Well, the bulbs sprouted and the plant made a rather feeble growth during one season, and the following spring died. But the moles, for some reason or other, actually did disappear, and have not troubled me since, until this season they are now numerous again.
Now, I do not assert that the moles ate the Fritillaria bulbs, nor even that they were driven away by them, but that if they were, it can only be accounted for upon the ground that the strong odor of those roots so much resembles that of the Mephitis Americana, which is no doubt an arch enemy of the mole and all "such small deer," that when it met their very sensitive olfactories, they incontinently "skedaddled," fearing that the skunks were on their track. [It is our custom to allow freedom to our correspondents in the expression of their opinions; and the fact that we permitted a correspondent in our July number to record his belief that a mole would eat a castor bean does not imply editorial endorsement. When the sparrow was introduced into this country, and men of science wrote to us that they had cut open hundreds of the birds and never found a seed - nothing but caterpillars or vermin - just in the same manner we recorded what they said, as we have done in this case. - Ed. G. M].