Blue Canary
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Dealing with awful, destructive squirrels

I was horrified to check on my tomatoes four days ago and discover almost the entire crop-- greens and ripes-- gone. Upon discovering it was squirrels, I put out some water for them to see if that would discourage them. The next day, the rest of the crop save one was gone. I tried to save the last one left by bagging it, but that too fell victim to the little furry thieves.

The placement of our garden isn't conducive to netting/caging, and I'd rather not buy the squirrels separate food-- they've done a lot of damage this year outside of the tomatoes, and encouraging them into the yard is the last thing I want to do. As for poison, I and all of my neighbors have pets, so it's not a feasible option. I was considering a "natural" baking soda/sugar poison mixture I read about online but I don't know what that would do to cats if they got into it and I'd rather not find out.

So. How have other folks gotten rid of the squirrels in their yard? Or at the very least, how have you kept them off of your tomatoes? Right now I'm in the process of building a PVC pipe trap, but in case that doesn't work I'd like to hear other options. Preferably options that keep the squirrels far, far, FAR away from my property.

maddox
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The Squirrels have yet to touch any of my tomatoes.... my strawberries
however are another matter. :x

MaryDel
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Shotgun, .22 caliber, or a high powered pellet gun. Fried squirrel and squirrel salad are two of my favorites :shock:

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applestar
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Hmmm... I haven't seen squirrels on my tomatoes either. This time of the year, they're far too busy eating the "useless" European plums -- which are turning out to be not so useless after all since I finally learned how to manage the fruits better to alleviate disease.

Just yesterday, I was out there standing on a step ladder to pick the almost ripe ones (they can ripen indoors after blushing, just like tomatoes), and a squirrel dropped a plum on my head from further up the tree! :shock: I told it that they can have the bug-ridden ones and the bruised ones, but the good ones are MINE!

I do always keep the bird baths filled with water. In my area, it's been a hard season for the wildlife with constant drought. I've decided to leave the meager harvest of elderberries for the birds to eat.

I assume you've "caught" the bandits "red"handed? (:lol: Sorry, it was unintentional. :>)
Approx. how many fruits and how many squirrels are we talking about?

Blue Canary
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@Mary-- not a bad idea! Unfortunately I don't live in the country or own a gun. Trust me, I'm envying the folks a county over from me right now; they have acres of land and free license to deal with varmints.

@applestar-- I'm going to guess 4 or 5 squirrels. That's about how many I see roaming the neighboring yards anyway. As for how many tomatoes? Oh, let's see... about sixteen? They even took the barely formed green ones from the hanging planters. And to make it worse, they broke some branches along the way.

I'm especially heartbroken because one of the tomatoes they stole was nearly ripe and probably going to be first and last one I got from that particular plant. It's dying of blight.

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rainbowgardener
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Maybe for next year re plan the garden so you can put deer netting around things? I garden mostly in raised beds and I just put stakes around the raised bed and wrap the whole thing in deer netting and pull it together over the top.

My garden is home to lots of squirrels, a family of groundhogs, several raccoons, possums, etc. I would never get to eat a tomato if they weren't protected like that. But it works just fine - a bit of a nuisance, that I have to unwrap the cage all the time to get to my tomatoes, but oh well, at least they are still there to get to.

I do NOT believe in killing the wildlife
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engineeredgarden
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Squirrels have really done a number on my tomatoes this year, and i've been taking the shotgun to them as of late. However, since I'm apparently a bad shot (only killed 1), but love building things from scratch - i've decided to construct a live trap to catch them with. I'll turn them loose in someone's garden that I don't like...heh.

EG

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Thanks for the suggestions guys! Another gardener suggested mixing rice in with squirrel food on the grounds that it will expand in their stomachs and give them stomachaches after they eat it. Anyone have any luck with that?

To my incredible shock, my pipe trap-- which I didn't even really put time into baiting because it was raining yesterday and I didn't want to waste my time-- worked. I noticed flies congregating around the pipe, and peeped into see a wet, furry tail sticking up in the interior.

For the curious, the trap consists of a length of PVC pipe with the open end leaning against a fence, and the opposite (capped) end propped into a bucket of water. Because I'd originally built this to be a no-kill trap, there are four holes drilled into the side of the pipe by the capped end. As a kill trap this is convenient, because the pipe can both draw in and empty water from the holes, and I don't need to worry about fishing a dead squirrel out of my nice clean bucket.

Once the bottom of the pipe filled with water, I just threw some leaves on top of the water and dropped a few shelled peanuts on top of them. I propped some peanuts in the mesh of the fence to entice squirrels near the trap. I guess once this guy got all of the ones on the fence, he saw the ones in the pipe and dove right in. I'm actually shocked it worked, because I only have about three feet of pipe. I thought they'd find a way to scrabble out, but I guess not.

The only problem is now I have to dispose of a bloated, dead squirrel. Ew.

Susan W
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Like this fur face? Why I don't mess with tomatoes. This one got one of the neighbors and had 'carry out', brought it to my side!
I am relying on the farmers market.

[img]https://lh5.ggpht.com/_TLd5mTZkIn8/TGabuQUxcwI/AAAAAAAABAg/SUXAT3qIAnY/s288/P1000924.JPG[/img]
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Susan

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rainbowgardener
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Deer netting!

I have the squirrels and all those other critters I mentioned above and I eat tomatoes out of my garden every day!

It's an easy, cheap solution that doesn't involve guns...
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Blue Canary
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I might be able to pull off the deer netting with my neighbor's permission. I'd have to wrap one end of it on their side of the fence, which actually won't be too difficult because the neighborhood association requires the houses here to have farm-style fencing. There's even mesh between the slats already; I could just tie it to that.

How do you stake yours in the ground? Our tomatoes are in a raised bed planter and a whiskey barrel planter right next to it. I suppose in that case I'd have to use separate cages.

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Stella Blue
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This is only my 1st year gardening, so maybe it's beginners luck. But my dog has full run of our property, and the squirrels (and rabbits) definitely have been keeping their distance. We picked our 1st tomato yesterday, and boy was it yummy.

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rainbowgardener
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"How do you stake yours in the ground? Our tomatoes are in a raised bed planter and a whiskey barrel planter right next to it. I suppose in that case I'd have to use separate cages."

My tomatoes are in a raised bed too. I just put poles around the edges of the bed, just inside, next to the box. Wrap the deer netting around the poles and weight/stake it down at the bottom and pull together over the top and hold with twist ties.

If your bed and barrel are both sitting on ground, I suppose you could put stakes in the ground around the outside of the whole thing.
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Gary350
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I have 2 squirrel nest boxes they both have babies 2 times a year usually 4 babies each time so that add 16 squirrels to the population every summer. I have NO problem with squirrels in my garden. Squirrels eat nuts, acorns and who knows what else but they never eat anything in my garden. I have corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, beets, onion, garlic, herbs.

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rainbowgardener
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Well, you have them well trained or something... squirrels are famous for coming along and taking a bite or two out of a whole bunch of tomatoes, rather than eating one. They like to just sample them. Maybe they aren't actually eating them so much as getting juice from them, when they are thirsty (but I do keep birdbaths including some at ground level, so there's always water available).

The tomatoes are pretty much the only thing in my garden the squirrels do bother.

I don't even cage my peppers and basil, nothing bothers them, except slugs do like my peppers. (I know, some people say slugs don't bother peppers, but they do mine, just luck of the draw I guess)

The leafy greens I have to protect from the groundhogs. The strawberries I have to protect from everybody (and it usually doesn't do any good, the raccoons always find a way to get to them).
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