(Homesteading.news) Without question squirrels are pesky, destructive critters that can cause many problems in your tomato garden, including digging shallow spots in the planting beds, taking bites of the tomato flesh and feeding on the whole fruit and plants, as well as nibbling the seedbeds. They also feed on flowers.
Let’s make your tomatoes less vulnerable to squirrels this summer! Here are five ways of keeping squirrels out of your tomato garden:
Protect the tomato fruit
The individual tomato fruits should be wrapped in small fragments of bird netting. The squirrels prefer feeding on ripe tomatoes as they ripen, just wrap the mature fruits and leave alone the ones that are still green.
You can install a cover or cage to prevent the squirrels from getting to your plants.
Row covers that offer adequate protection include chicken wire, bird netting made of plastic, hardware cloth, and some summer weight row covers. You can guard an individual plant by making a cage using chicken wire or hardware cloth and top it up with a plastic bird netting, and hold the netting in place using clothespins.
Cover bare soil
Many gardeners discourage the squirrels from digging in their gardens by covering the bare ground using mulch. Mulch the seed beds and the newly transplanted seedlings to keep them out of your garden.
Natural squirrel repellents
A natural squirrel repellent includes spicy and hot substances. You can sprinkle cayenne pepper in the garden to deter the squirrel from infesting your tomatoes.
Another way or repelling the squirrels is to make a spray by mixing vinegar, water, and jalapeno peppers that have been diced up. Allow the mixture to settle for one day and then sprinkle in the area of the garden that serves as a squirrels’ attractant.
Garlic is also a great way of repelling the squirrels. Make a concoction by mixing water, garlic, and vinegar and remember to substitute the heat with garlic. It is then applied the same way as the solution of jalapeno peppers. However, these concoctions have one disadvantage; they are washed away by rainwater and normal watering, therefore, they require reapplication once it rains.
Another repellent that you can employ in your tomato garden is peppermint, because squirrels dislike the smell. They will avoid it because it produces a strong aroma.
Put several drops of peppermint oil on a bunch of cotton balls and spread them in various parts of the tomato garden. Alternatively, you can surround your tomato garden with a live fence of peppermint plants. By so doing, you will keep the squirrels out of your garden.
Another squirrel repellent is loading a pair of nylons with a few mothballs. Just tie the nylon to a tomato stake at a height of about two feet, but keep them off the tomatoes themselves to avoid having them smell or taste like mothballs.
Scaring squirrels away from your garden
Having a cat or a dog in the yard will scare the squirrels and prevent them from settling down in the backyard. For instance, there is a dog breed referred to as Rat Terrier that was developed specifically for hunting down small creatures like squirrels.
If you don’t have, or don’t want, a pet, you should consider erecting several barn owl houses. Barn owls are the squirrels’ natural predators. They can end up consuming several squirrels in a week. Consult your local pet store experts concerning the best foods to lure a few barn owls, but once they nest in the boxed you build, you can discontinue feeding them. Also, some species of hawks prey on the squirrels and can be used in place of the barn owls.
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