A few years ago I was visiting some friends out of state and we were
enjoying their patio in the early evening shortly after dark. We were
chatting when a skunk decided to take a walk across their back yard and
it didn't seem to have a care in the world! My friend said to not make
any sudden moves! LOL
I did have some good luck with vinegar last year and will try that again
when the plants start to produce. Soaked some old socks every few days. No
one had mentioned vinegar, but accidently noticed on the bottle: "protect
garden from unwanted pests... soak rags every 7 to 10 days" on the back of
a Kroger bottle. I think it did work. I assume if it rains, soak the rags
more often. Not sure, but maybe the vinegar smells close to predator urine
to a squirrel, or just unpleasant?
Building a cage around the plants is probably the only sure fire thing to
do, but I went to do that at Home Depot last year and it started to get
kinda expensive to do it right. Last year, I did get quite a decent crop of
tomatoes; but the year before literally 2-3 puny tomatoes and then gave up
as the squirrels ruined all the rest. Ended up uprooting the plants...
Hopefully, vinegar will deter them this year at least so I get some fresh
tomatoes. Nothing better than fresh tomatoes. The ones in store here are
so bland, but garden ones full of flavor.
Encounter last year was a half dozen hydrangeas in small pots.
Racoons, I assume, tore everything apart. May have smelled but there
was no fertilizer.
It is not possible to rid the area of wildlife but I do think it is a
few individuals that start coming around and keep repeating and if you
can get rid of those maybe it will keep damage down.
One of the squirrels that was hitting my bird feeder put away a couple
of months ago was searching around the deck this morning and used a pot
full of dirt as his bathroom. Wife thought he was cute.
I have a customer/friend with a greenhouse. The resident
squirrels would dig under the walls and steal all his
tomatoes. He lives out in the boon docks and would shoot
at them when they ran away with a tomato in their mouths.
Nothing worked until he removed all his boxes, lined the
floor with pavers, and replaced his boxes. Now he brags
that he has to give away tomatoes. He chuckles about
all the head aches he is giving the squirrels when they
hit their heads on the pavers.
Late to the party, but...
1) Provide a source of drinking water for the squirrels, birds, etc. They may
be going after the tomatoes mainly for the water content.
2) My daughter ran an experiment as an assignment for one of her zoology
classes. She offered various 'flavors' of peanuts to hungry winter squirrels,
including smoked, two levels of hot pepper seasoned and wasabi flavored
Their obvious preference was for plain or salted peanuts. They would eat
the hot pepper and smoked peanuts. They mainly ignored the wasabi
flavored. Which suggests that wasabi (similarly, horse radish or mustard oil)
could be worth looking into as a squirrel deterent.
3) When all else fails, a cage of 1" hex wire netting ("chicken wire") will
exclude squirrels. You need to bend the wire out at the bottom (to prevent
them going under) and either let the top flop outward or put a cap on the
cage (to prevent them going over). I've used panels of 48" chicken wire
stapled to 1" x 2" strapping. The panels can be moved around as needed.
Tie them using temporary stakes. You can make circles, triangles, etc. They
should be rolled up and stashed out of the weather when not needed .
4) A sturdy 4' fence which is lined with chicken wire (bent out or buried
several inches deep at the bottom) and topped with a shock wire or two will
keep out a whole lot of potential pests.
Thanks Pat in Plymouth. Good suggestions. I had read they bite the
tomatoes for the water content, that they not intentionally trying to piss
off the gardener by only taking one bite... Not sure about water source.
There is a major problem with mosquitoes in the summer around here, so not
supposed to leave standing water around. I suppose I could use put
something out though and dump the water every 2-3 days. But I don't think
it's water that is a problem around here, but maybe they just prefer water
from tomatoes or are just lazy squirrels. They will bite even green ones
that aren't that watery. I think I will try leaving water out.
Are you suggesting leaving peanuts out, but away from the tomatoes? I don't
have a big yard, but could maybe put some at the other end. Or in the front
yard. How do you know if the squirrels have a peanut allergy. (Actually,
that might be a good thing!)
I didn't mess with chicken wire too much because to do it right was getting
kinda involved. I had read that cheap chicken wire with larger hole they
can still get through. Though I did have some lying around and I did kinda
lay it around the plants. I think it did dissuade them a bit but not too
much. I didn't stake it thinking maybe if it was flimsy and gave way some
when they stepped on it maybe they would be skittish?
My SMIL suggested plastic snakes. But those are worthless. I've seen the
squirrels step right over a couple on the deck railing. I tried to tie a
couple with string so they should move a bit but that didn't have any effect
either. Not on the squirrels. I also put out some tinfoil. That may have
kept away some birds, but not squirrels.
I don't like wasabi, so afraid that would get into the tomatoes, but maybe I
can try spreading some around one of the plants and experiment. Maybe in
conjunction with the white vinegar.... What do you mean by mustard oil? I
like mustard so would try that. Spicy mustard??
No, just suggesting that her experiment showed that wasabi is more effective
deterent than the commonly recommended hot pepper.
Yes, you need the wire netting with small (1") openings. But it's not so hard
to make panels by stapling the wire netting to wood strips. Then you can
put several panels together so that they stand up. Just untie them to get to
(I used to use chicken wire panels 8' tall and 4' wide to protect my block
plantings of sweet corn, before we put in the fence with the shock wire.)
Pure mustard oil is the hot, eye-watering agent in mustard seeds and other
pungeant cruciferous vegetables (like radishes, horseradish and wasabi).
I've some experience with it being used in Korean cuisine. A little goes a
long, long way when you are dining.
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