• 15Aug

    My neighbor says she’s seen the squirrel four times with green tomatoes. She’s not growing this year, so they have to be mine. But I just can’t decide if she’s trying to trick me into killing the squirrel, just plain cause trouble, or if she really has seen this.

    I have no evidence. I haven’t noticed any tomatoes missing, and I certainly haven’t found any partially-eaten tomatoes in the yard. That was my first hint last year, but I thought it was one of my neighbor’s little granddaughters who likes to pick things. I thought she was picking her grandma’s fruits, taking a bite and then tossing them into my yard for fun. I’d never heard of squirrels eating tomatoes until I finally saw him munching on one, then throwing it away.

    She also says she saw a rabbit with a huge tomato from my garden. Green one. I have an even harder time believing that one, because 1) how does a rabbit stand on its hind legs and grab a tomato (none are at ground level) 2) how does a rabbit carry a large green tomato in its mouth into my neighbor’s yard 3) I thought rabbits just nibbled around on greens

    So I just don’t know about all of this. I’m so very tempted to buy some ears of dried corn and feed that squirrel with my super bungee cord squirrel feeder. It’s fun to watch, but the last time I did that, I ended up with an infestation of squirrels and they chewed up all my cable wires.

  • 24Jun

    Aha! But he’s staying out of the gardens. I think the Shake Away has been a success.

    Today I went outside and saw that my diffenbachia plant, which I keep on the back step, was GONE. In its place in the pot, two large holes. Obvious digging from that bad boy squirrel. I had not applied Shake Away to any potted plants, and will probably get some lava rock tomorrow at the Home Depot. Supposedly lava rock as mulch on potted plants hurts their tender paws and they leave pots alone. We’ll see.

    I did find the diffenbachia in the back yard, just lying there, root and all. So I’ve put it back in the pot and hope it does fine. A certain squirrel should thank his lucky stars I didn’t see him. I would have yelled.

  • 16Jun

    After so much trouble with the squirrels digging holes everywhere, they seem to have stopped. I’m afraid to say it out loud (or post it), but I’m very pleased.

    I’m going to have to give props to Shake Away, the urine powder that I use every year with astounding results. When we first moved in, the back yard was overrun with wild rabbits. Having raised rabbits as a child, I love rabbits. But I didn’t want them eating everything, and that’s the first time I tried Shake Away.

    It actually worked a little too well. I haven’t seen a rabbit in at least two years. I didn’t mind them in the yard; I just wanted them out of the gardens. But I guess they moved on, fearful of the invisible fox and bobcat I have in the yard.

    Then last year, shortly after our neighbors moved, the squirrels moved in. The neighbors had a pit bull and little yappy dog behind a huge privacy fence. But their presence and barking was apparently enough to keep the squirrels away. Those squirrels began to eat the tomatoes, picking the best, biggest, most ripe fruit, taking a bite or two, then tossing it in the yard.

    I would have shared if they weren’t so wasteful and picking the fruits I had my eyes on. I did a little Shake Away, but in the end, just started picking tomatoes a day before they were perfectly ripe. And accepting that I had enough to share with the squirrels.

    But this year, this constant digging has me mad. Not a single bulb bloomed in spring, so I guess they ate my bulbs. No tulips, no daffodils, no crocus.

    I began using Shake Away again, but the results weren’t good. I still found digging in my cucurbit hills and around my vegetable garden. I also think they may have swiped some flower tubers. I finished off a can of the urine powder, and decided to try another. But there are different flavors, including a kind for squirrels that is in rain-proof bags. I called the company’s 800 number to ask what kind would be best. (The bags are primarily for bird feeders, not for gardens.)

    The young lady was VERY kind and helpful, and said squirrels are the toughest to get rid of. It wasn’t sounding good at all. But she gave me very specific instructions on how to use it, instead of the haphazard way I’ve used it since day one. And she said if this can didn’t work, then I shouldn’t waste more money on it, and I could get a full refund on the last can. GREAT POLICY!

    Well, it seems to be working! I haven’t seen any evidence of digging in any of my gardens. I’ve seen a few holes in the yard, but I can live with that. And they seem to be digging in some of my potted plants. I’ve read that lava mulch will stop that. It hurts their paws I guess.

    So thank you again, Shake Away. When it works, this is the greatest product in the world. And their money-back policy is fab. How can you beat that?

    I really researched squirrel control, but it seems they’re hard to deal with. Even when you kill them, more come in their place. The only real method it seems is a dog in the yard, and even then, it’s not a guarantee.

    I also *wonder* about some castor bean plants I’m growing. Could they be helping as well? They’re only a few inches high now, and I grow them because I love the look. But they’re also called the mole plant, because they supposedly repel moles. Could they work on squirrels too?

    I’m just thrilled that for now, they aren’t bothering me. I’ve also planted an entire row of extra tomatoes I had grown from seed, and that’s my sharing row. If the squirrels need a few, fine. The rest are going to the local food pantry. I planted those on the side of the house where a little bit of sun shines through. So far, they’re looking great.

    I wondered about the acidity of that patch of soil because there’s a pine tree that drops needles. Those needles turn the soil very acidic. We’ll see.

    The bees were also out in force this morning. In the hairy vetch and in the back garden. Oh, and the aphids have gone nuts in the butterfly weed. I sprayed some off, but need to do more. They’re kind of cute.

  • 03Jun

    Just a tip for people who have trouble with squirrels. I use only safflower seeds and have yet to have a squirrel go after the seed. The seeds attract titmice, gray jays of some kind, all kinds of finches, mourning doves (they love it!) and cardinals. The cardinals may fuss at first, but if you keep it up, they’ll come.

    The nice thing about safflower seed is that the blackbirds and sparrows don’t care for it. We have finches and cardinals all day long with the safflower seed. The mourning doves are too fat to fit on the feeder, so I leave handfuls of it on the deck railing. They enjoy that, and the cats enjoy the show.

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  • 02Jun

    Well, knock on wood!

    I”ve been very carefully applying the Shake Away (Small Critter), and so far, so good. The squirrels had been digging in my curcurbit hills out back (cucurbits are cucumbers, melons, squash). They killed my best County Fair cucumber plant and I was furious about that. (but more are coming up, as well as another kind of cuke, from bonus seeds…gotta love the bonus seeds!) And they dug like crazy in all the hills, plus in the areas I’d planted new dahlia and canna tubers. Grrr.

    I had been sporadically applying Shake Away; went through an entire can. But I wasn’t doing it like the can said, and probably way over powdering. So I wanted to buy another can, but called Shake Away’s 800 number and asked whether I should use Small Critter or Rodent. She said Small Critter. I also wanted to know if I should use their sealed packets for squirrels instead, but she said those were more for bird feeders and I should stick to the powder.

    Very helpful young lady! She also said squirrels were very tough to get rid of. I had mentioned the stuff had worked so well on the rabbits, but she said rabbits are pretty easy. So she gave me some tips, and said try one more can, but if it doesn’t work, to call them back for a refund. I’ve heard before that Shake Away has good customer service, and yes they do.

    I’ve been lightly sprinkling it on the hills and around areas that have been troublesome. You’re only supposed to do it twice a week, so I’ve been working at restraining myself (a little dab’ll do ya). And so far, not a single dig!!! I’m almost afraid to post, because it’s only been a few days.

    But I did see near the big tree where they’d dug a few big holes. I guess looking for nuts they buried. Why is it they bury nuts and forget where they are??? That’s not very efficient.

    There’s still the tomato problem later in season. Last year, they started stealing tomatoes and it was infuriating. They would choose the most beautiful, ripest and biggest tomato, take a bite or two, then toss it on the ground. You’d find it covered in gnats in the lawn.

    So THIS year, I have a new idea. Not mine, my friend thought of it.

    I grew a bunch of tomatoes from seed, and most are going to go to waste because I usually grow more seedlings than I need, in case some die. Well, there’s an area on one side of the house, where nothing will grow. I’ve been working on it every year, adding compost, and planting samples of various plants (mostly groundcovers) to see what lives. So far, only the ajuga has survived. It came back and had pretty purple flowers. Some workmen stepped all over it, and it’s still alive. But it hasn’t spread at all. I’ve got a clump of Scotch moss I bought (Stepables) that I intend to plant as well. I would love a nice patch of moss.

    Regardless, there’s that spot where nothing grows, and there’s one tiny area that gets direct sunlight. (It’s mostly shade, which is part of the problem) I’m going to plant those extra tomato plants there. For the squirrels. It’s near the tree they love, and if I just let that go, they can have all the tomatoes they want. I’ll use the Shake Away in the main veg. garden, and hopefully will divert them to the “trap tomatoes.”

    So that’s phase two of my “Squirrel Containment Plan.” I hope they’ll play along.

    Other than that, things are looking good. I’ve got Blue Mountain (a type of Penstemon) about to bloom, a surprise coreopsis blooming out back, my favorite deep red Asiatic lilies are ready to bloom despite being nearly murdered by hedge trimmer man, and my butterfly garden is going to be THE most spectacular ever. It’s already so full of bees and other beneficials. The bees just make me happy, because they’re doing hard work.

  • 28May

    Boy I really miss that neighbor with the PIT BULL. They also had a yappy little dog, so it might have been yappy that kept the squirrels away.

    This urban living is just one nightmare after another, and it’s days like today when I *really* miss the country. In the country you can have dogs and cats and let them go outside. I guess you can do that with a dog in town, too, but you have to build a really good fence. Plus we don’t have a dog.

    The squirrels are killing me. I just didn’t know that squirrels were such a problem until I moved into town. First, in an apartment I briefly lived at, I thought they were adorable and I fed them. Then they moved into the attic and chewed up all the wires and it was horrible.

    Now that the neighbor has moved – and taken his dogs – the squirrels have invaded. Maybe it’s two squirrels or two hundred. I really have no idea.

    It started last summer with the squirrels stealing tomatoes. I’d never even HEARD of such a thing. I’ve led such a sheltered life! Then I guess they ate all my crocus and tulip bulbs because none came up this spring. That’s just a damn shame because I especially love crocus. AND I was planning on putting in the special kind of crocus that makes saffron, because I love saffron. But what’s the point if I can’t get rid of the squirrels?

    Now they’ve just been digging holes everywhere, including in pots. I just read to put lava rocks in pots as a mulch and that keeps them out of those. But I’ve still got to figure out what to do in the gardens.

    I called Shake Away, their 800 number, and the young lady was so nice and helpful. I just finished a can (this stuff had worked SO WELL on the rabbits) today. I’m going to do one more can, per her instructions, and if that doesn’t work, I can get a refund (that’s decent – another reason to love Shake Away!) and do plan two.

    Plan two will be:

    1. Vinyl netting over my seedlings until they get established.

    2. There was something else, but now I’ve forgotten.

    I’ve read suggestions of moth balls and cotton balls soaked with ammonia. Plus a spray of hot sauce in water, and I may do that on the tomatoes this summer. Will that hurt their taste? Will it wash off? Ick.

    I HATE that vinyl bird netting, but it has worked quite well keeping the robins from shearing off my plants. (They shear them off, then steal plant parts for nests. I yell at every robin I see, except the fledglings.) I also yell at the squirrels and they just flounce their cute tails at me.

    I have no heart for kill methods. Can’t do it. My uncle hires a nature man to trap groundhogs and other critters, then release them in the woods, but more move in. So I don’t see the point of trapping and releasing. Plus, I’ve read they die when you do that because they don’t know where food stores are.

    My final option (and this is controversial) is to just feed them. Peanuts and corn. They love it. If the squirrels would behave, I don’t mind feeding them. But they have to behave.

    This is a real problem, and a bb gun is not a solution for me, although quite tempting.

  • 15Aug

    The Shake Away seems to have worked. I haven’t lost a tomato to them since I sprinkled.

    I’m getting so many tomatoes now that I think I may can up a few quarts. DH is gonna freak out if I actually can some stuff. I haven’t done that since my “earth mother” phase, which was when I was still in university. However, as much as he makes fun of my gardening (it’s playful…he’s a New Yorker and loves to bust my chops, and I return the favor), he has confessed that he enjoys the delicious taste.

    It took awhile, but he has also confessed that there IS a difference between the wax balls that pass as tomatoes in the store and homegrown fruits. He also admitted that the peaches and strawberries of Southern Illinois know no rival. No torture was committed during the confession.

  • 13Aug

    Here’s a good overview of techniques I found online:

    How to stop squirrels eating the tomatoes

    I’ve never known squirrels would get into a garden, but they’re eating my tomatoes. I was just talking with my neighbor and she said they were into hers as well. I kept seeing tomatoes over by the property line that had bites out of them and were tossed into our yard, but I thought it was the neighbor’s little grandkids. One granddaughter in particular is a pip and likes to pick things. She’s three and very cute, but still a pip.

    I kept finding these half-eaten tomatoes tossed into our yard, but just picked them up, gnats and all, and put them into the compost bin. Hey, more compost goodness, that’s what I thought.

    Until today and I found six half-eaten tomatoes of my own. That changes everything.

    I had seen a squirrel (or maybe chipmunk…I couldn’t really tell through the window) trying to get into the compost pile. Or maybe he’d just been and was getting out. I bury kitchen waste pretty deeply into the compost to get it going (and to prevent temptation by any rodents), so I wasn’t sure if he was just trying to find something or found something.

    Oh, I’m livid! I had my eye on the first Brandywine. It’s been ripening and I’ve only seen tomatoes this size on TV and at state fairs. It was HUGE. H-U-G-E. And it was missing. I was picking tomatoes and thought, what happened to that big Brandywine? There it was, half eaten, on the ground and it had a tiny snail on it. Ugh.

    tomatoes and eggplantsIf I wouldn’t have gotten a bucket load of ripe tomatoes just now, I’d be really upset. I’m mostly upset about the Brandywine, darn it. But there are more coming and they’re big too. (Is that red plastic mulch working??? My tomatoes do seem bigger this year.)

    So I’ve googled, and it seems that sometimes squirrels need the liquid. I don’t know if they’re thirsty or hungry, poor little guys. I AM SUCH A SAP!

    Several years ago when I lived in Illinois and had moved into town, my cat became an indoor cat. Having always lived in the country and let my pets into the yard, I NEVER had animal problems because the cats and dogs kept them away. I got squirrels at that place and got so excited about them I started feeding them. It was grand and they were cute and tormented my cat through the window. They would actually squirt him through the screen with urine.

    Then they made their way into the attic for winter and they ate all my cable wires. Had to totally have the cable rewired. I have not fed a squirrel since.

    My previous neighbors had a big pit bull and a yappy little dog behind their fence, and I think those dogs kept the squirrels away. Now they’ve moved and I think the squirrels have moved in. We do have good trees.

    What to do? Do I give the squirrels something else to eat to keep them from bothering the tomatoes, or do I try to run them off with Shake Away, a powder made from fox and coyote urine? Shake Away ran off wild rabbits, which was not my intention. I just didn’t want them in the garden, and I ran them all away.

    Poor hungry little things. This is a quandry, and I’ve decided to do something really, really rude.

    I’m going to get the Shake Away out, sprinkle it around the garden and not tell my neighbor. Then the squirrels can still eat hers. THAT IS TERRIBLE. OMG, I feel awful doing this, but I don’t want them to starve. Yet I don’t want to buy peanuts and start feeding them, or I’ll bring in more squirrels. They do damage if they get inside places. I’ve already been through that.

    Plus, if I bought peanuts, DH would positively KILL ME. He’s never let me forget that they ate my cable wires back in Illinois. He still calls me Ellie Mae (Clampett).

    He also calls me Swiss Miss off the cocoa box, which is kind of rude. I once put together what *I* thought was a cute outfit for an outdoor event: it was hiking shorts that had cuffs, my hiking boots and some socks, and I think it might have been a flannel shirt. Or maybe a tshirt. But I finished it off by wearing my hair in two braids. Big mistake.

    I looked adorable, at least as a kind of outdoorsy, back-to-the-woods kind of look. Natural, cute outfit. Being the rude New York Lawn Guyland Italian American that he is, he immediately burst out laughing and asked me when the yodeling would begin. Not appreciated.

    I still wear the outfit, just to annoy him, though I recently chopped off my hair so no braids.

    I think the squirrels appreciate the look and they have expressed their approval by letting me know how delicious my tomatoes are.

    Now I’m going to sprinkle Shake Away and send the squirrels to my neighbor’s garden.

    I’m filled with guilt.