Wendakai
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Keeping chipmunks, squirrels and other li'l critters at bay

In past years we've had a really hard time growing anything from the squash, cuke or sunflower family because of the chipmunks, squirrels and other li'l critters. I'd no sooner plant the seeds than they'd eat them. Last year I spread a mixture of cayenne and black pepper over the garden after planting my seeds, and repeated after rain. SUCCESS! And the pepper mix doesn't hurt the li'l critters, just gives them the sneezies and they stay away.

Just thought I'd pass this one along. A pepper mix also discourages raccoons from goin' after that garbage can. :)
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my_secret_garden
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Brilliant! Can't beat an organic solution to a tricky problem. :) Thanks for the tip!

Wendakai
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You're very welcome! :D
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opabinia51
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Just a slight correction. the cayenne pepper does a little more than cause animals to sneeze. It aggrevates their mucus membranes and is somewhat atune to be being sprayed with pepper spray.

So, their first encounter is usually VERY UNPLEASANT and therefore they tend not to come back.

Wendakai
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Well yes, the "sneezies" are usually a result of aggravated mucus membranes. At least, that's what my allergist says. :P But unlike my allergies, the effect on the critters does go away, and the fact that it's unpleasant for them *is* the point of the exercise. Mixing the peppers and spreading the mix over a fairly large area of your garden should keep the impact on the critters reasonable, unless you spread it so thick that your neighbours sneeze when they walk by. (This is a sure sign that you've been a little heavy-handed in distributing the pepper mix, which is unnecessary, both in terms of impact and expense.) :? And of course, it also depends on the animal. Any that I've noticed seem to skitter away pretty quickly and stay away. (A fact which apparently increased their desire for my birdseed.)

Still, the stark tone of your post seems to suggest that you think this solution unduly harsh.... so if you know of a better, gentler solution to the problem, I'd love to hear it!
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opabinia51
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I'm sorry if you found the tone of my post to be insulting. That was not my intention.

Wendakai
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No, no... I wasn't insulted.... merely perplexed, since your post seemed somewhat disapproving in tone, and yet offered no better solution to the problem. I always find that sort of thing perplexing... it's just me I guess. I don't mind people adding to or criticizing my suggestions... whatever... just so there's a point to it. That's all. But if you meant no harm, great. :) No problem.
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Well,
Not criticizing anyone for thinking differently than I, only stating another point of view (mine, hehe). :)

That said, while I'm not a vet or animal expert, I have to agree with Opa that cayenne pepper seems a bit harsh.

Here is another thread that discusses squirrel prevention methods that doesn't affect the critters physically, which may be viable alternatives to laying down cayenne pepper:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=334

Among the suggestions there are:
Cats
bloodmeal
and a link to another website where they advocate blocking access to the seeds by use of metal screens and other suggestions.

Here is the link:
https://www.squirrels.org/control.html

As far as cats catching a squirrel, I've never seen that happen. ;)

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Franco
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ahhh thanks a lot i had a fig tree that was growing beautifully in new york and i look it to new jersey when i moved and there are sooo many rodents here, also deer like to pick at things and i love animals so i don't want to kill them this seems like a great thing to do thanks a looot
"Don't you know we are the roots that hold this tree, feeding the branches and all of its leaves?"

-Trevor Hall

Wendakai
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Thanks for providing the link. I read it all, but the solutions seem to apply pretty exclusively to squirrels. (It's important here to note that it isn't just squirrels stealing my squash seeds. It's chipmunks too.)

One solution given was cats; I have two. Thing is, the cats aren't always outside. I've had cats for a few years and last year was the first time my squash seeds germinated. I've already tried a few other things, including germinating my squash seeds indoors, with disappointing results. So last year I used the pepper mix (carefully, since my cats were out there too) where these seeds were planted until they germinated. Once the plants broke the surface, the pepper was no longer needed. (They don't damage the plants; they just steal the seeds.)

You know, despite having cats, chipmunks will come right into the house and find where I keep the birdseed. (They do this while the cats are out, and they steal squash seeds from the garden while the cats are in. Apparently they aren't stupid.) :? So I'm not inclined to assume that squirrel solutions will work on chipmunks. However, one thing your site did say that I didn't know, was that cayenne could actually blind rodents. Well, I wouldn't want to do that... they have enough challenge avoiding my cats and fooling us all. So either I'm hoping black pepper alone will do the trick (unless you have some dandy news about that too), OR I'm not growing anymore squashes. :P Afterall, I can always buy squash from a local farmer. (Honestly.... growing squash isn't worth all this guilt.) :wink:

Thanks again for providing info.

Wendakai
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Hey Franco... glad to help, except, watch out for the guilt factor. My original source said cayenne won't do any lasting harm to critters, but folks here have presented a source that says cayenne can blind rodents. So maybe just try black pepper around that fig tree and put the cayenne on your Cajun chicken. (Just a little.) :wink:
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Wendakai
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>>As far as cats catching a squirrel, I've never seen that happen.<<

Just a little PS in response to this. It's true that cats seldom catch squirrels, but they can and do catch chipmunks, moles, mice, frogs and birds. They are natural hunters and they will kill even if you hang a bell on them. I don't want to seem quarrelsome, but if people are to see cats as a viable alternative to "harsh" solutions like cayenne pepper, they should be aware of this reality.
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opabinia51
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Hi Wendakai,

my cats often leave severed squirrel heads at my door. I am a huge fan of cats but recently learned that they have a really large negative effect on local wildlife and especially birds. I't really a catch 22 I guess. I mean, urban environments aren't going to change and most people aren't going to keep their cats locked up inside all the time (I personally think that this is really unhealthy for cats, no matter what advocacy groups say). But, it is something to keep in mind.

As far as the Cayenne topic is concerned, I merely posted the information to provide everyone with the current information on the topic, as I typed, no harm was intended or directed towards anyone. I was just offerring information such that you could make an informed decision as to what you and other people wanted to do.

I don't know of a good solution for dealing with those little joys but, your idea of simply forgoeing (sp?) the growth of squash is exceptionally sound. I think that you have a very progressive way of thinking.


My goodness, I sound like a real sugar coater, don't I?

Seriously, most people that I know would just as soon cause so called pests harm than simply changing their own habits (which is a lot simpler than trying to overcome nature).


You'll also have to excuse me because I just returned from a conference where we brainstormed on a lot of progressive thinking topics. I'm still feeling a little airy fairy. :wink:

Wendakai
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Yeah, I dig that you didn't mean any harm. Guess I'm just sensitive to tone, and there are times when that pays off. ;) I find sometimes information is more convincing if backed up with a source.... depending on the source.

Yes, cats were about the best that site had to offer for an alternative to cayenne pepper, and it seemed like a rather naive solution. Screening won't work... the screens between the chipmunks and my birdseed attest to that. Of course, this gives me hesitation in believing what else that site says, including the part about cayenne blinding critters. My original source said it did no lasting harm, and he is a knowledgeable agriculturalist, so I'm faced with the choice of believing him or a well-intentioned site containing questionable information. <sigh>

Moreover, given the behaviour of my chipmunks, I have difficulty believing they're actually stupid enough to get into the cayenne so that it does lasting damage. Heh... they're pretty clever. One whif and I can see them beating a retreat... afterall, there's always the birdseed in the house. ;)

HOWEVER, all that said, I hesitate to take the chance of doing lasting harm to any creature, including my cats. I'll try just black pepper and see what happens. Growing squash is not a big thing with me; my elderly mom likes me to grow some butternut squash for her because mine come out smaller than commercial ones, so she can manage them better. And I like to grow some zucchini... but it isn't as if they're expensive. (People have a hard time getting rid of theirs here.) ;) So, if the black pepper doesn't work, no biggy. I'll just have to find my mom some small butternut squash.

Hope you had a blast at your conference. :)
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opabinia51
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You know Wendakai, you could start the seeds indoors in little pots and then simply transplant the squash plants outside. That would be your solution.

Wendakai
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Yeah, I know... as I mentioned, I've tried that with disappointing results. I have only so much room in a sunny window in here and those large plants started indoors tend to be weak and leggy. But my daughter did start some, and we'll see how they do this year.

You know... just an observation.... when you say my choosing to not grow something is progressive, I have to wonder if it necessarily is. I garden by organic methods, growing plants that attract bees and butterflies, leaving a border of long grasses that contain beneficials, using only household compost and sheep manure to feed the soil. I even leave some dandelions in my garden, because they drop such intricate roots that worms use them for canals, which naturally aerates my garden soil and provides fertilizer. Dandelions also draw moisture up from the deep in those dry times and share it with nearby plants. The thing is, when I can't or don't grow a certain vegetable myself, it doesn't mean my family will just do without. It means I'll probably go and buy that particular vegetable from my local farmer, who does not use organic methods. In fact, he uses conventional farming methods, including chemicals to control pests. (There used to be an organic farmer nearby, but not any more.) I prefer organically grown produce, so I might find that vegetable in the organic produce section of my local grocery store, but I also might not, and it will cost a lot more.... something my budget won't always stand. I mean, that's just reality.

So, when someone like me stops growing a certain vegetable to spare the little critters, and buys that vegetable instead, is that actually progressive?
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opabinia51
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Well, my statement was regarding the fact that you yourself have chosen not to fight nature but to work with it. That is what is very progressive. What you could do is find organic farmers or organic produce and buy that.

That would be even more progressive :wink:

Wendakai
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>>What you could do is find organic farmers or organic produce and buy that.<<

If you read my entire post, I actually did cover this. <shrug> At least, I thought I did. But then I covered the planting squash seeds indoors too. Heh. I think my posts must be too long or something. My bad. It's been real. ;)
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opabinia51
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Yes, didn't actually finish the last couple of lines there. No worries some of my posts can be REALLY long as well. Heck, one of them took up a hole page of posts.

I realize that organic produce costs a lot more at the supermarket. Organic farmers are hard to find as are organic nurseries. Sadly, my organic nursery will be closing down this year to seel organic seeds.

One thing that you might try when growing plants indoors is investing in a grow light. That will help give your seedlings a good start.

Wendakai
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It's a good suggestion, but the house is too small for that. <sigh> I know... imagine how frustrating it is from here. :( We live in a winterized cottage, you see. I homeschool a daughter with some special education needs, so we live on one principal income. This makes our budget terribly tight. Hence the "cozy" cottage, and the strict grocery budget. One good thing is that the cottage is on a large lot with room enough to garden. :) This is not only helpful to our budget... a couple of ways... but has educational value for my daughter. We have a bay window in the kitchen that faces south-east. I have two small greenhouse units mounted inside the window. Alas, the squashes and sunflowers are still leggy. But we'll plant them on the weekend and see how they do.
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opabinia51
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Good luck! We do what we can do, don't we?


You know, I have one more suggestion. If you can find some sort of mesh to put over the area where you want to plant just until the seedlings some up, that might be enough to stop the local wildlife from digging things up.

I know things are tight financially speaking but, you can buy a plastic mesh from nurseries but, you can also hunt around for a metal or plastic equivalent. Never know what you might find.

Oh and here a few different squashes you might like to try; I don't particularly like sweet dumpling squash but, they sure are prolific. I had them growing out of my ears last year. All from a few seeds. Sunshine squash is not as prolific as sweet dumpling and is somewhat akin to butternut in texture and flavour.

Wendakai
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I think I already mentioned the mesh idea too.... I can't really see that laying some sort of screening over my squash seeds is going to keep the chipmunks out, any more than our screen doors on the sunroom kept them out of my bird seed. So many holes..... and they pretty much come and go at will.... the cats being more worrisome than any screens.

And, I don't know if you have any sort of relationship with someone elderly, but my mom is 85 and kind of set in her ways. She even kept the seeds from one of last years' butternut squashes for me to plant. They were really good, she said, and she wants more of those. ;)

So, thanks for your suggestions. I think we'll just see what happens this year with the ones we've started and I'll try just black pepper in the garden too. Hey... if this doesn't work, it doesn't. As you say, we do what we can. :)
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Flanker
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Wendakai, you should be delighted to have such adorable visitors coming to your garden as squirrels and chipmunks. The best solution to preventing their eating the seeds in the soil is to… feed them! Put down some avocado, cherries, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and peanuts for them everyday. You will gain their appreciation and friendship. There is nothing more satisfying in life than the friendship of a squirrel!

Wendakai
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Hey Flanker!
My, you resurrected this from years ago! My mom, mentioned in my post, passed on last year at the age of 87, so my posts must have been 3 years old. In the interim, my squashes have been doing well with just the black pepper sprinkled over the ground where I plant the seeds.

No, I won't feed the chippies and squirrels. As much as I enjoy watching their antics, putting out food for them would only bait them, as if I was in cahoots with my cats. I wouldn't do that. I do put out bird feeders, too high for my cats to reach them. But the other critters have to find their treats elsewhere.

But here's a tip for you: coasters make great nut dishes for squirrels! :D

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Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth on cayenne pepper, I grow hot peppers and the squirrels will eat them like crazy, I fight to get enough for my own use so I don't think that cayenne pepper will do any real harm, so can any one think of a way to get the squirrels out of my pepper garden.

Bear
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Wendakai
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Hey Bear,

I think the cayenne pepper has to be powdered before it's effective at keeping the critters away. :wink: However, I've found that just the black pepper keeps them away from seeds and plants. When they get a snootful of that, it discourages them. But you have to reapply after rain and wind. You can put it over where seeds are planted, or around special plants. Also, I've taken to container planting some of my usual plants, including my hot peppers. They did well this year up on a plant table. I got a bumper crop. I'm sure the critters could have jumped up if they wanted to, but they didn't seem to notice there was a reason to.

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