Tomatoes

Keeping squirrels out of gardens: tips for protecting tomatoes from squirrels

Do squirrels eat tomatoes? They certainly do, and if you’ve ever lost tomatoes to a squirrel attack, you may be wondering how to protect your tomato plants from squirrels.

Signs Squirrels eat tomatoes

A sign of squirrel damage is a medium to large hole dug in one side of the tomato. Sometimes a squirrel may eat an entire tomato, but in an apparently malicious behaviour, it will usually bite several tomatoes, ruining them all. Squirrels are active during the day, so if damage occurs at night, another mammal is probably to blame.

You may also see small holes in your garden or in nearby containers, indicating that a squirrel has dug there. Or you may see damage to other plants. Squirrels can nibble on flowers and are especially fond of daisies.

Damage to the leaves and fruit of a tomato plant indicates a likely problem with insects, such as the tomato leafroller caterpillar.

How to protect tomato plants from squirrels

Building cages to enclose your plants is probably the most effective way to protect tomatoes from squirrels. You can build cages around the individuals

plants or around a whole bed, or you can surround a whole small garden. Since squirrels can jump into your garden from hanging trees, a roof is necessary. Build the cages with chicken wire or wire mesh, possibly with a bird net placed on top.

Repellent sprays, such as chili pepper sprays, can help keep squirrels away from their tomatoes. You can choose a commercially available spray or make your own. If you use a homemade food-grade chilli pepper spray, you can apply it directly to your growing tomatoes to discourage hungry creatures. Don’t forget to wash it before eating!

Outdoor cats are ideal for keeping squirrels out of gardens. The same goes for dogs if you have a fenced garden. Of course, you may also need to take steps to keep your pets out of the garden. They probably won’t eat vegetables, but they can do a lot of damage by digging if you’re not careful.

Scare tactics are another option to protect tomatoes from squirrels. Try placing noisemakers, windmills, tape and chimes in your garden. However, since they usually only work for a few days, you will need to change them often as squirrels realize that they are not a threat.

If Peregrine Falcons or other birds of prey live in your area, consider taking steps to attract them by providing perches, nesting sites, and other necessities.

Other options to prevent squirrels from entering gardens

Squirrels are looking for juicy products to get water and also food. Some gardeners have managed to place a water container or even a birdbath across the yard to keep squirrels away from the garden.

Squirrels are attracted to the bare earth, where they look for roots, nuts and edible seeds, and bury the treats they find for later. Keeping the bare ground covered with plants or mulch prevents them from being attracted to the area.

You can even pick the tomatoes when they are not quite ripe to prevent squirrels from being robbed. Cut a piece of vine with the tomatoes and let them continue to ripen on your counter.

Protecting tomatoes from squirrels can be a challenge, but with the above ideas, you’re sure to succeed.

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