4/21/10

The Part Where I Start Hating Squirrels

After weeks and weeks of thinking, prioritizing, growing anxious, feeling motivated, and finally purchasing all that I needed to do something about my new fixation on gardening, I have red strawberries. Or rather, HAD red strawberries.

I made my box, dug out the topsoil, filled it with purchased soil, transplanted my strawberries, broccoli, onions, raspberry bush, and tomato plant, and watered them well. I also used a vintage fridge drawer that I found under our porch when we moved in as a shallow planter after drilling a few drainage holes. Mostly because I had more onions than I had planter space. I settled on one small 4' x 4' raised bed to scratch the gardening itch instead of two or three 4' x 8' beds since I'm still a gardening novice and because our summer schedule may keep us away long enough for our garden to suffer.

Sebastian helped me water the plants and hammered a stake into the ground like his life depended on it. He also resisted picking the young strawberries even though they were finally turning red. Much to my dismay, I went out the next day to find the red strawberries were gone! Later as I was cleaning off the back porch I saw a robin pecking away at another plant and shooed it off. The day after that I caught a squirrel digging up the strawberry and broccoli plants! I wasn't prepared for such an attack on my little garden.

After doing a little research via Twitter and Google I came across a few deterants. Red pepper flakes in and around the plants to ward off the squirrels, a piece of green rubber tubing cut to resemble a snake to ward off the birds, cds or other shiny objects to catch the suns rays, getting a dog, etc. I've decided to set up Sebastian's teepee frame (minus two legs) over the garden and to drape plastic netting over it to see if it'll keep the critters from getting in. It'll be easy to water and I'll still be able to glean the goods once they are ready. We'll see how it goes.

I could always borrow my brother's old bb gun and have a teaching moment with Sebastian. I tease. DO share your own tricks for keeping wildlife from feasting on your urban garden as I'm sure I'm not the only one with hungry beasts living in my trees.

xoxo,
Rachel

39 comments:

Roxanne said...

A lock of hair will keep away the deer and marigolds for the bunnies. It's so tough keeping those pesky critters out; sometimes they just don't care! I hope they stop their invasion on your pretty bed!

Erica said...

For the flowers I'm growing in my apartment I spray peppermint water to keep ants away. They will be another best to deal with. I've read that there are different types of flowers and herbs that are a great natural bug repellents depending on what type are the biggest issue where you live. The screen idea sounds like a great innovative way to keep the big creatures away (especially since you're also growing tomatoes which will need height space). Good Luck!!

heyjenrenee said...

crap! just planted strawberries today and I could totally see this happening. I better get some red pepper flakes! Or something.

Melissa said...

Aaahhh. Love gardening. Our last house had a perfect gated off area where my husband built some raised beds for me and the dog wasn't able to get to and dig in it. Our current house has no such area and I am extremely jealous of your cute little beds. I tried container gardens last year, but I just have black thumbs when it comes to potted plants. I may just have a front yard veggie garden this year. Sorry no advice on keeping squirrels away. In Orange County, CA I never really had that problem. My husband would probably vote for the bb gun, but luckily he doesn't get a vote on this matter. Good luck!

pinksuedeshoe said...

When I was growing up my mom had little chicken wire frames that went over all our veggies. Those animals are really cute in their cartooned/animated/plushie state, but they can undo months of garden work in one night! Good luck! (I think the teepee is a good idea though, as long as the netting has a good seal on the ground and at the "door". Those little dudes can get through pretty small openings!)

Melody said...

You can also hang a line over the garden area and suspend tin pans from it (like the cheap pie tins). The reflection, noise and movement will deter most birds. There's another trick we mountain people use for squirrels. A line with plastic bottles strung on it. You leave the cap on and drill a small hole in the cap and one in the bottom. Feed your line through the bottles and hang. The squirrels can't get traction on them. Of course, they could still bounce in on the ground if you don't put something similar down low. I haven't personally done this cause I didn't want a squirrel to fall and possibly get hurt. *shrugs* Idk, it's a hard call.

Mints and lavender plants also deter animals and bugs from your garden.

Kathryn said...

We have tons of deer around here that loooove eating the buds of flowers, especially the agapanthus. The easiest thing to do is sprinkle some tabasco sauce on them! Maybe that will work for squirrels too...?

The Curious Pug said...

bummer i hate squirrels! the same one always comes by my patio garden and digs up the exact SAME little cactus i have in my window box. the poor plant is still alive but i always have to redig a hole and replant it. the stupid squirrel doesnt even think to take it, just digs it up. i hate him lol!

thegreengal.co.uk said...

How frustrating after all your hard work! You might want to try planting a couple of strawberry plants in a hanging basket. That's how I grow mine and it makes it difficult for most wildlife to get anywhere near them. Plus it looks v pretty and frees up your land for other food growing.

Alicia said...

Oh, I remember coming home after a graveyard shift to find my very favorite primrose GONE, ceramic pot left behind, dirt scattered all around...I sobbed! (lack of sleep probably contributed to such a steep reaction) I never figured out what attacked my plants, raccoon? deer? but I set out with all sorts of tricks to keep it from happening again. You can see a picture of the devastation here
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1157/582268417_8c0e0fa57b_m.jpg

Erin said...

What a bummer! To work so hard and be so patient then something swoops in and eats all of your delicious fruits and veggies!

We had deer eat our peas last year. :( We had to use netting to keep them out. It is the only thing that would work for us.

terra said...

My parents also put chicken wire over their garden. It keeps their dogs and other creatures from getting in the garden.

Stephanie said...

For the birds I would recommend giving them something to eat of their own...that would keep the out of your goodies. Put in some bird feeders a few yards away or plant a mix of sunflowers. They love them. No experience with squirrels as of yet...our neighborhood must keep them scared away.

Hearthandmade said...

Ragin! These comments have been handy... Ive just started organic growing and ive developed powdery mildew on my chillis :( Im going to try a natural baking powder remedy and i hope it doesnt burn them. I like the peppermint water idea! I hope you get your screen up successfully. I have to worry about my cats eating the flowers. Theyre weirdos and also like to chase and munch on bees.

Andrea said...

I have an actual rubber snake in one of my vegetable/herb boxes. After reading this, I think I'll buy a few more. I have a saucer of squirrel food in a tree - mostly to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder. I've never had problems with them in the garden. I thought I did last year, but my daughter confessed to pulling up the radishes.

piccolotakesall said...

I'm sorry about the critters...it's a challenge all of us gardeners need to work through. I highly suggest putting up bird-proof netting for the raspberries. You will not get to eat any if you don't.

Also, strawberries and raspberries are aggressively spreading plants. They will eventually take over that entire box (and more, if they can). You should be fine for this year, but next year, I would suggest building another box for your vegetables and leaving this one dedicated for berries.

Hopefully that helps!

Vicki@PiccoloTakesAll

biscuit said...

my neighbor but up a tad bit of chicken wire and covered it in foil. never saw rodents again.

Aura said...

My strawberries are getting devoured by birds! I've probably lost a dozen of them.

HOME OF HOPE said...

I have a garden here in Springfield too. Last summer my zinnias were being attacked so I went to ace and bought coyote urine (comes in a spray bottle) and sprayed it around the garden perimeter. It did the trick, you just have to reapply. The smell makes animals think a predator is in the garden. Maybe this will solve your problem?...

Katie said...

squirrels are the worst! they even dig up the pots that I haven't planted in yet. In order to save my lettuce, I covered the container with the wire mesh cover to our fire pit -- works great so far.

I'm definitely going to give the red pepper flakes a try. Thanks for the tip!

Kirsten said...

You can add a ladybug house to your garden. Ladybugs help control the insects that might eat your garden. Plus I think they look cute which is a bonus.

Jenny said...

I have found what really worked last year was putting a stake in the ground and hang a foil pan from it, and the clanging it makes against the stake when the wind blows freaks the squirrels out that someone is coming. It worked perfect last year.

Karla said...

Besides chicken wire, I've heard that either grated Irish Spring Soap or cayenne pepper sprinkled around the garden works well. Good luck! :)

Amber said...

We got to enjoy one tiny strawberry last year. I was convinced that the squirrels where hiding and heard me raving how "amazing" our strawberries were. The next morning they were gone.
I did buy another strawberry plant this year. I will not be defeated!!! I am going to try some of these tips! Thanks for the post! And good luck!

Maggie Whitley {Gussy} said...

ohh, boo! let us know how your pepper flakes + teepee + garden snake look-alike work out :]

Amy said...

You shuld see what an armadillo can do to a garden
Like many others, I have heard that the mint plant/herb is a great deterant for mice,squirrels, rabbits and insects. And you could use it for cocktails! ;)

Jazmyn Alexandria said...

Congrats!! I can't grow plants to save my life sadly! :(

http://velvetbirds.blogspot.com

Amanda said...

Oh no! Unfortunately for my garden it was the South Texas HEAT that killed it last year.

My parents live in Ohio and have resorted to only planting tomatoes since that's the only thing the deer and rabbits will not eat. Everything else they've ever planted has been devoured by the wildlife, nothing would deter them.

Good luck with the netting. Birds and especially squirrels are awful crafty so it may/may not work.

Brigide said...

I have trouble with squirrels too and have fantasized about a gun too but alas I can't bring myself to do it. I had my hubby build me this instead, I'd link but I don't know how. It's on my blog, just one post down. It's pretty effective and it was fairly cheap. Good luck, fight the good fight sista.

Anna M said...

I have also heard that human hair keeps the bunnies away. Ivory soap works to keep deer out. I learned that tip at a vineyard- they had Ivory Soap hung on little strings all over to keep the deer away from the grapes. Good luck!

Rebekah Greiman said...

I love your blog! I found you through itstybitsybrianna and one of her links there.
I love seeing that you garden. The one thing that I have found to work for ants is cinnamon. The one thing that I have found to work on squirrels is a little sad. So, I won't share it....my hubby has to do all the dirty work.
I have an arts & crap you might like made out of scrap plywood. Check it out if you are interested, if not just don't tell me. I can handle it.
http://www.potholesandpantyhose.com/A/Arts_%26_Crap_Archives/Entries/2010/4/11_Scrappy_Plywood_Art.html

Michelle said...

garlic. . peel and stick garlic peices just a few inches under the soil all the way around the box. . keeps bunnies away (who at my house are almost always the cluprits).

RachelDenbow said...

Rebekah,

Great post! I couldn't comment on your blog easily, though. I guess I'm not set up for it or something...so I hope you come back and see this here!

ChokingCoke said...

We put up two owl figurines next to our garden. My dad really thinks it helps. And we also use plastic snakes. I think though ultimately those scare me more than they do the squirrels.

ricebabies said...

I have no green thumb, i wish i did. i shouldnt comment as i have nothing to ofeer, but the bb gun did make me laugh and brought back good ol Texas memories, so thanks for that.

backwoodswife said...

We also had squirrels thieving berries from our strawberry plants. Seems they like to wait until they are ripe too! Last year I ended up picking them just before they were ready and letting them finish ripening inside so we had a hope of eating even a few of our own berries.
This year I got a tip from a neighbour. She said to put a stick at the end of each row and run a string between the two and hang some old CDs or DVDs on the string. Put clothespins or twist ties on the sting on either side of the CD to keep it from sliding away too far but enough to allow it to move in the breezes. Apparently the birds and the squirrels are wary of the flashing reflections and will leave your berries alone.
I plan on trying this myself this summer but we can't put anything in the ground until after June 6th up here...

Tracey said...

Oh no! I've just started my beggie patch too. It's so exciting but i haven't had any critters yet. I haven't actually had any edible things yet either though! he he. Perhaps i should invest in some netting?

Blink said...

The squirrels here dug & ate all the seeds before they could even get rooted, the few beans that did grow were eaten by ants & the strawberries were eaten just as they turned red. It's so discouraging. Then the squirrels were digging under our roofing & that's when we couldn't take it any longer. We bought all sorts of things that were supposed to keep the squirrels out of the seeds, from climbing up things etc. They always managed to do the extreme & get in. Finally we resorted to using a live trap. We caught 30 within 2 months. :S There are still many squirrels in our neighborhood but hopefully the population is low enough in this area that we will have some small success with our garden this year.

Becca said...

Oh man, YES.
That is such a bummer. What gorgeous strawberries, too!

We have stupid rabbits munching on our garden and...rabbits are so cute. How to get rid of them?

Have a great little eekend!