Garden Update – The Squirrel Battle Rages On…

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on September 3, 2011

imagine photo of half eaten mini acorn squash here

So I was our watering the other day. Could have been middle of last week…I have lost all sense of time as we have started back to school, back into a routine, back into life flying at warp speeds. Anyhoo, it was recently.

I soaked the planters on the patio (from the west side) because it has been hot and my plants are thirsty. And then as I was walking back out to the tomato patch (if you will.), I heard a very loud thud. It startled me…and I looked over and what do you know.

A half eaten green tomato had fallen from a tree.

SQQQQQUUUUIIIIIRRRREEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLL

What a pesky pesky pesk-pest!

We have 48 trees on our half acre lot. It makes for some amazing leaf piles in the fall. And it means we have lots and lots of squirrels. I did not have any problems with them eating my garden the past 2 years…but this year, I guess they couldn’t resist anymore.

So back to the watering.

I continued on watering the tomato patch, and walked around and looked more closely and didn’t see too many tomatoes left on any of the plants. And one of the tomato grates was tipped over…likely from the weight of the squirrel climbing all over it.

UGH!

So then I thought…I wonder if they’ve attacked the patio planters too. So I walked back over and took a closer look…and sure enough, a few of the acorn squash were gone and one was half eaten. :(

I decided that I needed to go grab my camera…and likely got distracted by one of the boys. And by the time I got back around to getting back out there to take a picture of this sad little half eaten mini acorn squash, it was gone! It’s like the squirrel KNEW! Pesky-pest!

Next year, I shall be more prepared!!!

On a positive note, I do still have my Brussels sprouts, some of my peppers and a little bit of chard and kale hanging in there…I’m letting it be to see if it starts up again as it gets cool this fall. We shall see…

So I wanna know what kinds of battles you are having in your garden right now?! Is it the heat, a blight, vermits?!?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Rae Ann September 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I live in the desert southwest in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years, so of course I am battling the heat. Additionally, all manner of wildlife have come into my garden because of the water in it. This is my first year of veggie gardening (inspired by your post about Square Foot Gardening), so I largely considered it to be an experiment. I counted myself lucky to have a really nice lone pumpkin.

Until last week. When a rabbit ate it.

Ironically, we have been leaving our jack-o-lanterns out for the critters for years only to watch them slowly rot untouched. I figured my pumpkin was safe since none of them had ever been eaten before. Huh. Live and learn!

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Joanna September 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Here in CA we are fighting with the heat, some sneaky squirrels, rabbits with WAY too much time on their paws, and some fierce tomato worms. And can I just say that the its the tomato worms that freak me out, and send me running from the garden muttering Ewwwwww!

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Sarah September 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm

We have had squirrels take all the apples off one of our trees. It seemed like one day it was full of cooking apples then the next day they were all gone. This is the first time it has happened. I usually make apple pies, apple crisps etc. every year from the tree.

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Irene D. September 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I have one squirrel that had adopted my garden. Just like you they seem to take the whole fruit or veggie. They used to only take a few bites and leave the rest. I have a rabbit that comes to call also.

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Sharon L September 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Our has been a huge groundhog who has manage to eat almost every tomato and pepper off the vine. I put in heirlooms and we haven’t had one of them! If it hasn’t been the groundhog, the stinkbugs have attacked the rest. I’m ready to yank them all out of the ground and call it a day. So disheartening!

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Tina September 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Shake-Away Fox Urine Granules for Small Critters: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=fox+urine+granules&hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=16111781306699228116&sa=X&ei=JdFiTt7rMoetsQLR6oWVCg&ved=0CF4Q8wIwAA

Get some, sprinkle around your perimeter, like an invisible fence. The other deterrent is that we throw all our old fruits, veggies and breads out at the base of our tree and that seems to keep them out of the garden.

We’ve been battling heat here…day # of over 100 degrees. I’ve had two wimpy tomatoes, two cantaloupes and cabbage and that’s it, all season! So frustrating, but the cooler temps are supposed to arrive Monday, so hopefully, some of them will bear fruit!

For general bugs, you can try some dish-washing detergent and for hard-shelled beetles, some diotamaceous earth (or if you’re okay with something stronger, Malathion). Google both for proper application. Good luck!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:48 am

Thanks for sharing these ideas Tina! And boo on all the heat!

Erin

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Tina September 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Sorry…that should have like day #69 or #70 of over 100-degree temps!

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DeAnna Jones September 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

First I had a wave of grasshoppers that took out four of my six tomato plants, and severely wounded the other two (in ground ones). THEN the poor little container tomato plant I raised from seed got it’s green tomatoes stolen by THE fattest squirrel I’ve ever seen. GAH. The best thing I grew this year is ginger, and I’ll be doing that again and again. Allready trying to think of a better plan for next year. :/

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:48 am

Me too DeAnna…must be prepared for next year!

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DeAnna Jones September 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Adding… never give up, NEVER SURRENDER!! :)

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Wendy September 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I’ve made friends with the squirrels, rabbits and bird by putting out food for them every day. When I forget the birds peck on my kitchen window and the squirrel climbs up and looks in too. I swear some days he knocks! I didn’t used to do this but I got tired of the garden battle. I tried netting to keep everyone out but they chewed through it. I tried the urine thing and it attracted every cat and dog in the neighborhood. So I decided to try feeding them, keep them happy and full and they won’t go after the garden. Two years now and it has worked well. I put out dried corn on the cob, bird seed and peanuts, all purchased at the local feed store. It cost a little bit but it is worth it. I even pull a carrot or two every few days and give them to the critters. If I find a tomato or other vegi that the worms got to, they go to the critters as well. It all balances out.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:45 am

Now that’s a grand idea!!! Love it!

Erin

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jill September 4, 2011 at 12:42 am

s. cal coastal here.
Let’s see, not enough heat, grass hoppers, racoons, worms of all varieties, crows, other types of birds of different varieties, peel bugs, japanese beetles that like to chase me and make me scream. Oh, and possums, rabbits, and squirrels. And one of the offenders is a little boy aged 2 1/2, who loves to pick all the beets. He’s learning though.
I by the way, can’t even imagine a ground hog in my yard, luckily we don’t have them here.
Just coyotes who haven’t entered my yard.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:45 am

Oy…coyotes trump groundhogs…anyday! And I’ve fenced our little garden to keep the “human critters” out! ;)

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Debbie September 4, 2011 at 9:19 am

I had such great hopes for my Austin-area garden this year! I read Square Foot Gardening and had a pretty good Spring, but then the unrelenting heat (over 70 days of 100+ degree heat!)and “exceptional” drought took over. So I never got to do Fall planting, which would have been my first. I guess if it ever rains I will see if I can grow any late crops and I will try again next year. Also, fire ants are a big problem here and I am not sure what to do about those.

PS please send rain!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:43 am

Yes…praying for rain for TX! My family is in San Antonio and I hear about “the drought” all the time. Here’s to a wet fall!

Erin

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Ashley September 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Squirrels for us too. Pulled in the driveway one day to see five squirrels in the garden. Sat and watched one of them chew the bottom of a cornstalk. It fell over, and then all five squirrels worked together to drag it out of the garden. Walked right underneath our electric fence. Grrr! We’ll be doubling up on the Irish Spring and Critter Ridder next year!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:40 am

Grrrr for sure! Ugh!

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juju September 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm

My first year for tomatoes. Read a book about how to do it and he said squirrels don’t like to
eat tomatoes they are just thirsty. Prevent them from eating tomatoes by having additional water sources/bird baths available.

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Becky, in GA September 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Actually, my chickens have found my garden.. they peck at the tomatoes.. they will soon be confined as the tomatoes are MINE! ;-)

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Wendy September 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Yes, the water. I forgot to mention the bird bath is refilled several times a day and there is a metal pan (multiple puppy feeding dish) on the ground for the rabbits and squirrels. One other thing, the squirrels have burried (planted) peanuts and corn in the garden for their winter stash but they took and grew. Now I have peanut plants and corn in places they shouldn’t be it will be fun to see if they produce.

I also started collecting rain water from my roof into rain barrels a few years ago. I use that for watering the gardens, much better than the city water for the plants. It also saves me a lot on my water bill. Obivously this wouldn’t work in areas like Texas where there has been no rain. I pray for you folks every day.

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Chris September 9, 2011 at 9:31 am

Here in Louisiana, we use a couple of tricks to keep the critters out. We sprinkle cayenne pepper on the dirt to keep the possums and armadillos out. A rubber snake or pie pans in the citrus trees and tomato bushes to keep the birds away. And also for the stink bug problem, plant marigolds. They repel the bugs. These few tricks kept our gardens (and flower beds) safe and intact!

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