July 11, 2005

Evil Squirrels

In past years, we've lost very few tomatoes to squirrels and rabbits, because our eighty-something year old, next door neighbor grew more tomatoes and didn't actually pick much. With more crops over there and no dog, the squirrels went where the fruit was easiest to get and most plentiful.

Our neighbor died this past March, so we're the only ones growing tomatoes this year. I miss talking with him and comparing notes on plants, and I sure miss his garden being the buffer zone for mine against the critters.

This year we planted three tomato plants, figuring that even that would produce almost more than we could use or give away. So far only my grape tomato plant has produced anything. The other two, a roma tomato plant and a purple heirloom variety keep getting semi-close to ripe fruit and then I return to find the tomatoes ripped off and sitting gnawed on in the yard, on top of another neighbor's fence or scattered here and there.

I'm very annoyed. I'm not sure what kind of barrier or deterant I can put around my plants to keep out the squirrels, but still allow me to fairly easily reach the tomatoes myself. My husband just wishes there wasn't a law against discharging firearms in the city.


I'll stop lurking and tell you how much your green thumb inspires me. :) Good luck with the squirrels.

Posted by: Mary at July 11, 2005 01:55 PM

It's possible that your problem is with birds. We had blackbirds (and others) eat our tomatoes. I saw a few pecking them. Putting out a bird feeder might keep them off your tomatoes. It's also possible that they will give up (there are much better food sources)after a while.

Posted by: George at July 11, 2005 02:38 PM

Does a BB gun count as "firearm"? Mark *frequently* uses one to keep the birds (for some reason, we don't have squirrels) and rabbits out of our tomatoes.

Can you pick the "semi close to ripe fruit" and let it ripen in a sunny windowsill? That's what we would do in the pre-BB gun days. It worked well.

Posted by: angie at July 11, 2005 02:57 PM

Mary, thank you.

George, we have birds that get into our berries, and may hit the tomatoes some, but I've seen the squirrels sitting around eating the tomatoes in past years and some of the places tomato pieces get left look like thier handiwork.

Angie, I did pick a Roma yesterday that was slightly orange in the hopes of saving one from their evil claws. It's perking up some. Funny you should mention a bb gun. Justin was considering/threatening to investigate the possibility of using one on them.

Posted by: Jordana at July 11, 2005 03:27 PM

Since it is squirrels, you could put blood meal around the plants but only if they are fenced in - the dog will dig up anything around the blood meal.

I have a friend that traps them and transports them about a mile away, but this only works if there is no good food supply. (My mom tried this when they were eating the bird seed and gave up after 200 or so.)

There are lots of homemade remedies out there, but the most vegetable friendly seems to be one teaspoon of Lysol or three ounces of Epsom salts added to one gallon of water and sprayed on the plants. (Of course it's got to be reapplied every time it rains.)

I'm pretty sure the legal definition of a firearm doesn't include BB and pellet guns (your husband is a lawyer, he can look it up), but that kind of deterrent usually only makes you feel better.

Posted by: George at July 11, 2005 04:47 PM

I'm with Justin on this one. Our offenders are the bunnies. They mowed down our peas, not a single one produced, and the beans look to be in jeopardy. For some reason, we don't have a squirrel problem, but I would gladly blast ole Bugs and his pals out of my garden permanently.

Have you ever used Fox Urine powder? We used it AFTER the bunnies got to the peas and beans and everything else seems to be doing pretty well. I know you have to be careful with mothballs cuz of the kiddies, but we've had success with mothballs as well.

Posted by: Bronwyn at July 11, 2005 11:55 PM

My husband's with you about the evilness of squirrels ... we have a black walnut tree in our yard, and for years his uncle has been asking us to bring him a seedling. For some reason, we could never find one. Then, last year, my husband found a little black walnut with a leaf sprouting out of it, and carefully planted it in a pot to take to his uncle the next weekend. Next morning, all that was left of the nut were scattered bits of shell and the little leaf lying there pitifully on the ground next to the pot. My husband nearly drove us off the road several times on the way to work that day, swerving to try and hit squirrels.

Posted by: Another Jordana at July 12, 2005 08:41 AM

We have problems with birds and squirrels.

Lyman finally built a cage out of electrical conduit, corner fittings and net. That worked for a while but an enterprising little guy chewed through the net and has had a field day.

Now he's thinking about chicken wire. You and your dad and your husband are creative people. Maybe you can conceive a cage that will work.

We haven't seen a pear from our pear tree in years because of the little rodents.

No plums, either.

In our neighborhood, you'd go broke buying ammunition for using any kind of gun against the little buggers. There are just too many.

Posted by: Janis at July 12, 2005 12:34 PM

I came across this blog while looking for a solution to the squirrel problem in our backyard. After nursing three beautiful tomato plants to maturity, and counting our tomatoes daily (got up to 24), we have been able to enjoy only three pieces of fruit. The squirrels, on the other hand, have had Thanksgiving every day for over a week. They took the ripe ones as well as the green ones. We saw them rush off with our dogs chasing them to the end of the yard. My husband has gone after them with a BB gun, and just wished his pellet gun still worked. We bought a special sqirrel-deterrent spray at the nursery and hosed down the plants. Nothing has worked. Perhaps a electric wired cage? Seems like a lot of trouble for fruit, but these squirrels have really made us mad!

Posted by: Meg at July 27, 2005 01:48 PM