Squirrels and Tomatoes!!!!

Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)July 3, 2011

I am soooooooo PO'd!! I just looked at my tomatoes that were fully loaded with green tomatoes from the size of limes on up and ALL are gone! The squirrels got a taste of the GREEN ones and cleaned them off. I'm just SICK. We saw a squirrel sitting on the fence the other day munching on a green one so we know it's squirrels. This is the first time I've ever experienced this. Any ideas on what to do?

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jonhughes(So.Oregon)

Kill em' all ;-)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 3:30PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Wow how have you been so lucky? I hate squirrels! Just rats with a good tailor.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 3:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Same question from last week linked below and a search pulls up hundreds of discussions about how to deal with the problem of squirrels.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Squirrels discussion

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 4:54PM
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ltilton

Here's what I do when they get into the corn. I assume you have your tomatoes in some kind of cage or support so they're growing upright.

Get a roll of chicken wire - the bare, uncoated kind. Unroll enough to go around each tomato cage and make a cylindrical fence. Anchor at the bottom with earth staples. The varmints don't seem to like to climb that thin wire.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 5:32PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Squirrels are absolutely horrid and by far the worst garden pest I have ever dealt with. I tried for years to keep them at bay with "humane" methods (repellants, sprays, relocating, feeding them on purpose, etc.), but nothing worked. Now I use lethal traps (tube traps and kania traps) and it is the only thing that has worked. I have caught dozens this year, and I am finally enjoying a few small harvests.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 6:49PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Terrier

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 4:07PM
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robertlovesmaters(Zone 10 Petaluma CA)

I'm with John Hughes, kill em all.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:52PM
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ltilton

People who use the kania traps - how well do they exclude nontarget species?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

ltilton, that is an excellent question. Truth is, I do not really know the answer. I garden in urban Chicago which means my wildlife consists of squirrels, pigeons, some song birds, sea gulls and hoodlum children. My traps have never caught anything other than squirrels, but I am not sure how they would fare in areas with more varied and balanced wildlife. I suppose if you bait the trap for squirrels, very few other (non-rodent) animals would be interested in the bait. Maybe you can email the manufacturers in Canada and ask them?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:45PM
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ltilton

My concern is for cats. Or maybe birds. Unless they are fruit-stealing robins.

I have some traps that seem to have a similar design as the Kania that work really well on mice.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:44PM
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glib(5.5)

A dead squirrel provides enough N for about two tomato plants for the season. But the real problem for them is lack of water nearby. This might not work for everyone, but IME a bucket of water, part buried for easy access, will solve the problem over the weeks. The green toms are not good food for them and they will happily take other things, if water is plentiful. Try the bucket, plus a pile of corn, away from the garden, if you want a faster response from the squirrels, and see how it goes.

In my case they really only get into the raspberries (but they have water). They may have memory of it, since they have eaten berries for millennia, but even with raspberries, they wait until they are absolutely ripe, and they have only started since several dozen ash trees died in the neighborhood due to the emerald borer, depriving them of their July staple (ash seeds). Before then, my raspberries were untouched by squirrels. The robins are another matter of course.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:48PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

gardener972 -

Are you in a drought situation?

From personal experience and watching the GW threads, the case of tomato stealing squirrels seems to go drastically up with drought/no other available source of water. I have two regular bird baths and two ground level. The squirrels are visiting them like crazy during our dry weather. If you put out water near your tomato plants, you may deter them from eating your tomatoes.

Now, keeping them from stealing all my green, heirloom, organic cotton? Can't help with that. Beasts. Hope they enjoyed their warm, green nest last year.

Bellatrix

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)

Yes, it is dry here (and HOT) but I have two birdbaths and I cut the bottom off a milkjug and filled it with water and put it by the tomatoes. No luck. With this heat though, I will not be getting any more tomatoes. So much for all the green ones on the vines thanks to those stinking varmits. I agree... kill them all!!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 4:39PM
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corin99(7b Triangle NC)

ltilton has the right idea...They don't like climbing over things that are unsteady. What's even better than chicken wire is plastic "hardware cloth", sold at one of the big boxes. It's 2' high with 1" openings and the plastic is very thin..almost like netting. I put this around my garden to keep out rabbits and found that the squirrels stopped going in also. I found out why one day when one of them did get in. It had a very slow climb back out of the garden and was very vulnerable, had I wanted to hurt it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 4:50PM
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