Hey, squirrels, I want some tomatoes, too
It appeared that we weren't going to harvest any corn or tomatoes from our garden this year. But maybe there was hope.
We had no trouble getting things to grow in our garden this year; the only problem was claiming our share of the produce. The soil was rich with compost and spring rains came on time. From June onward, we could look out at the garden and see it full of lush green growth.Skip to next paragraph
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But we were not the only creatures looking forward to a bounteous harvest.
In May, my husband had planted our favorite Sugar Buns corn. Knowing from experience that both seeds and young plants are often gobbled up by garden marauders, Dave covered the corn with chicken wire, carefully securing the corners with sticks.
Within a day, we saw a squirrel tunneling under the chicken wire and stuffing his cheeks with corn kernels. When we left on a vacation, some seeds had survived and were germinating, but when we came back not one corn plant was to be found.
Ever optimistic, my husband planted the remaining seeds from the package and repeated his protection program only to have the squirrels immediately dig up every seed. There would be no Sugar Buns.
As the summer heated up, our tomato plants started to set fruit. We grow our tomatoes inside chicken-wire cages, which enclose the plants from top to bottom. Last year these topsy-turvy enclosures successfully protected our harvest.
This year, after several days in the high 90s, I began to notice bites out of the new green tomatoes. I carried large rocks to the garden (rocks too heavy for a squirrel to move) and fortressed off any entry to the bottom of the cages.
The next day, several partially eaten tomatoes were at the bottom of one of the cages. The squirrels (or some other critters) were still gaining access to the cages.
My husband had just bought a new pair of sneakers, so I had a nice, odoriferous pair of discarded shoes – the beginnings of a scarecrow. I raided my husband’s side of the closet and found a pair of khaki pants with threadbare cuffs that should have been tossed out long ago and a chambray shirt, also long overdue for the rag bag.
I placed a hanger inside the shirt and filled out the chest with Bubble Wrap. Strips of Bubble Wrap also worked well for stuffing the pant legs. I sat my man in a chair, secured a head of sorts to the top of the hanger with duct tape, and topped it with a ball cap. I placed the man in the chair next to the tomato plants.
Later in the day, as I was walking alongside the garden I felt a presence to my left and was spooked when I glimpsed the scarecrow in my peripheral vision. “Well, this will surely work,” I thought.
It did work for several days. But when the tomatoes had brightened to a pinky orange, I noticed the raiders were back. Several tomatoes hanging on the vines had tooth marks, and green tomatoes had fallen to the ground.
Several days later I looked out the window and noticed the tomato plant moving. Getting my binoculars, I focused on a squirrel perched in the greenery.
I decided that it was time to borrow our neighbor’s Havahart trap. We baited the trap with peanuts and set it next to the tomato plants. When we checked it an hour later, the trap was sprung, but no squirrel was inside.