squirrels in my tomatoes!

Champaign, IL

Hi, for the first time my partner and I planted tomatoes in our backyard. We didn't grow them vertically, something I thought we should do (and we'll definitely do next year!), but they seemed to be doing fine any way; a couple had worms. But then, the local squirrels got into them, which is maddening...a couple of bites on one, pulling off another and leaving it lay on top of the grass nearby uneaten. ARRGGHH! So we bought some heavy duty netting and poles and put it up around the tomatoes but the little buggers (squirrels that is) chewed right through it! Any suggestions/better ideas about how to keep squirrels out of the tomatoes? We though the more floppy stuff would keep them from crawling over the top. Who knew they could chew right through it!

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

Caligrl, I went through a horrible time this spring (when we get our first crop of tomatoes here) with ground squirrels. What I found worked best was a product called Shake-Away. It's garlic oil and powdered coyote urine, and kind of pricey, but it did work. I lost about half my crop; the varmints would take out a tomato in 2 hours and I'd lose everything before I could turn around.

Other things I tried that were for rodents included garlic oil spray (but stay upwind yourself, that stuff STINKS!) and an inflatable snake that I moved around a lot. People also recommended mint or lavender oil or clippings (but I didn't have any to try). Also, a motion-sensitive sprinkler was suggested, but I live in a desert in a drought, so that didn't seem right to me.

You might also try picking them as soon as they start turning red, and let them ripen inside. Taste is still very yummy, but they seem to be a little big safer from the marauders.

Good luck!

Banks, AL(Zone 8a)

My husband said to tell you to get you a electric fense box and put wire around and around them. Let them touch to electric fense. There is a squirrl away that might help. I have seen it in some of the booklets I get in mail. I hope something works for you.

Dallas, TX

Git yerself a dawg!

Seriously, even when my dog is not around, the squirrels stay away because the smell of his urine is still there. Let your dog chase the squirrels every now and then. They'll learn to stay away. Just don't forget to get your dog vaccinated, because the squirrels may carrry rabies!

Here's what I do... I get my dog to urinate on a wooden post, then I move the post near my tomatoes. That way, you'll get the doggie urine smell on your tomato patch without the doggie urine damage on your tomato roots.

If you don't have a dog, borrow the neighbor's dog for a bit. You only need 5 minutes of it's urine....

Cool, eh?

Please answer my question posted on this forum titled "Best Tomato (s) for North Texas". Thanks.

Southfield, MI

I've used something called Critter Ridder; it's a mixture of black pepper and other organic stuff. It worked to keep squirrels, rabbits, moles, gophers, chipmunks and deer. Yep, I've just about got em' all.

Champaign, IL

Hi all, sorry, haven't been on-line for days, so unlike me. Thanks for the suggestions. While I like the idea of an electric fence (just to see what happens...does that make me evil?), we have cats. As for the dog, not practical for us (re, um cats for one). Have gone out and bought the Cridder Ridder, will see how that works. One of my friends is trying it also since the squirrels have even been at her peppers (didn't eat them, but teeth marks in ALL of them). I'll let you know how it works. My Air Force marksman son tells me if we're still having trouble when he visits in a few weeks, if we give him a BB gun, he'll take care of the rest...eww.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Squirrels are my bane too. Last year they dug up all new plants in ground, dug in my containers, and partially ate my tomatoes. I tried the sprays - they work for a while but you must keep spraying after watering and rain. I also used bamboo skewers around new plants to keep them from digging. They even dug up a large heuchera plant and a large scabiosa plant.

This year I won. The best defence was a plastic mesh from walmart that you could cut with scissors. I put it down in the containers with landscaping fabric spikes or pins. They quit digging. Yeah. I saved my lettuce, spinach, squash, cucumbers, peas, beans, etc. I then wrapped the tomato vines with the mesh and tied with string. The lousy critters did NOT get a finally ripe tomato I had been waiting on. Finally. It is a pain but it works. It is silver colored 1" mesh, about 4 feet tall and ? long. Fairly cheap anyway. I plan to keep using this, along with many skewers and spray. Good luck.

Breezewood, PA(Zone 5b)

my squirrels come around regardless of my two dogs and squirrel-hunting cat, so that doesn't work for me. i've had my own squirrel issues this year, and plan on hunting for a lot of ideas to try next year :p

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 5b)

Wow - and I thought I had squirrel issues! The squirrels never touch my tomatoes (I do grow them upright with poles and twine, and I do have a cat who is outside a few hours a day)! But they LOVE crocus bulbs :-/

Schaumburg, IL

I am not sure who is eating my tomatoes. I have lots of squirrels around but someone told it would more likely be rabbits? I am desperate and I started building a frame around my garden, so I can screen it in the summer and put plastic over it in the winter.
Carolmo, can you tell me more about the silver 1" mesh, is it plastic, where did you get it? If it is plastic, wouldn't they eat right through it? About sprays, I am going to try a home version. I am going to place a couple of hot peppers and garlic in water and blend it. I hope this home version will work. Thanks

Columbus, IN(Zone 5b)

Get a small game license and eat 'em! From what I hear they're good eatin ;)

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

About using plastic mesh (To Luv2groworg):

The mesh was at Walmart. It is silver colored, 1" square holes, plastic you can cut with scissors, about 4 feet tall and in a roll many several yards long - do not know how long. It was fairly cheap - meaning less than 20$ I think. They had it by the solar light section. Anyway - it was cheap enough and easy to cut so I tried it for a small trellis (peas), the top of containers, and cages around ripening tomatoes. So far, as of today, no critter has eaten or dug through the mesh. It is flimsy. I am surprised the squirrels have not demolished it.

I put in a water system consisting of 4 sprinklers and short sections of hoses with shut-offs. I can water my terraced garden with 2 on at a time. My garden started to look wonderful. Then I noticed raised tunnels all over. I looked up on internet and found voles. Voles eat bulbs and plants below ground. Since I also lost some plants I should not have, and I had seen tiny mice, and my cat caught some earlier this spring, I thought I had another critter to worry about. Some on the internet recommend planting some bulbs (tulips and lilies) in cages of mesh or in sharp sandy material to stop the voles from eating them.

So, I am also going to try to use the mesh for planting tulips and lilies this weekend. The tulips I planted last year never came up and were missing - no sign of them. I also bought paver sand - I could not find expanded shale or sharp sand, I am going to dig a trench, lay in the plastic wire, put down about 2" sand, plant the bulbs in the sand, add dirt, add more mesh on top and tie the bottom to the top with thin wire. If this does not work, no more tulips. I will see next spring if this works. I will not go to more effort to plant tulips. At least the lilies are a one time plant.

This gardening was supposed to be a stress reliever when I started over 40 years ago. This is the first full year of retirement. This hobby is still not a stress reliever. Hah!
I will get beautiful bulbs and salads in spring, flowers and food in summer, and food in fall.

Curious. What kind of critter cuts off thorny roses just above ground and unscrews solar lights? I have trouble with the solar lights. I may have more than rabbits, squirrels, and voles. I did see a possum several times. Raccoon?

Schaumburg, IL

To carolmo - thanks for the prompt reply. I bought some green mesh but I am going to Walmart to see if I can find the silver mesh, maybe the color is warding them off?! Anyway, I will try and find it. I just hope that all walmarts carry it. I hate to ask you what area you are in, of course you don't need to answer, but I just want to make sure that if my walmart (I am in the Chicago area) does not carry it, I will need to inquire further.

Thanks and happy growing!!!!

Champaign, IL

Hi, just thought I'd chime in again, having asked the question in the first place. I tried a "mesh" plastic fence but the squirrels ate right through it. Perhaps they were more desperate than carolmo's? We ended up using the cridder ridder which was somewhat effective. Finally, just kept our eyes peeled and took off those that weren't quite ripe and let them ripen off the vine. Still tasted good. Oh, and one more antidote. My partner had picked some tomatoes, left them on our patio table and then sort of forgot about them (me, too). I was coming home and saw a squirrel on one of the chairs at the table and thought "what the heck, never seen a squirrel up at the table b/f." Well. Then I noticed it was carrying something red as it ran away. A tomato! Chased the bugger all the way to the tree he scampered up--without dropping the darn tomato. Was impressed but still yelled. Took 'em all, all 5 of them. Sigh.

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