Friday, September 24, 2010

Peaches and Squirrels by Heirloom Fan

I know this sounds like an odd combination, but this year I had an unusual “crop” of persistent squirrels visiting my trees and garden. Some people consider them cute and some are annoyed by them but however you feel about them, squirrels can do significant damage to your landscape and garden.
While squirrels are all part of our ecosystem, knowing how to safely control them is a must. Last year, my big challenge was that I had major damage to my garden due to the July hailstorm of 2009. This year I was looking forward to a big recovery and I was very happy to see that we had abundant peaches and apples, and that my vegetable garden was also doing well with producing tomatoes and other favorites. But it seemed as soon as the plants and trees became full of ripe fruit and vegetables, the number of visits to my yard by the squirrels also became “abundant”.

Squirrels are protected by law, so trapping and other methods of control may be prohibited in your area. To try to find a solution, we made a visit to our local hardware store and found a spray on repellent that was safe to the environment. But even with this effort, the applications need to be refreshed often to keep the squirrels repelled.  Bird netting and other barriers can also help protect your plants from being raided but also must be carefully placed to ensure that the squirrels don’t find ways to push them aside to access the fruit or vegetable.

In my garden, I have found that few things are beyond their interest in sampling. Often, they can take one bite and leave it to rot which then leaves the whole fruit damaged and not safe to eat.  They seem particularly fond of sunflower heads, pumpkins, tree fruits, tomatoes and even green beans. I plan to continue to grow all of these so in addition to other challenges like protecting from hail damage, I will now have to plan to keep the squirrels at bay too!

The following audio Planttalk bulletin will give you a few tips on squirrel protection -