With ample love and care, you create a tomato garden. One fine morning you step into your garden only to see, what?
Your tomatoes! They are lying around in the beds, scattered in your garden with bite marks all over. You also notice a squirrel fleeing into the nearest bush.
You feel horrible, helpless, and frustrated watching the carnage. You feel like planting the tomatoes itself was a mistake!
But wait, don’t give up just yet. Your feelings are understandable. Squirrels are indeed a problem. Here are some tips on how you can keep squirrels out of your tomato garden.
Why are Squirrels Attracted to Tomatoes?
Squirrels do not like tomatoes. So if you are planting them it’s not like you are baiting in or inviting impending doom to your garden. No.
But squirrels are frequently attracted to your tomato plants. Why? Because they are thirsty. Tomatoes are juicy red goodies filled with water. One bite of it, and your mouth fills with its liquid goodness.
Squirrels feed on your tomatoes to satiate their thirst. They will take only a bite out of a single tomato. Then they will move on to another tomato to take another bite. Thus you never find lots of tomatoes gone. You see loads of half-eaten tomatoes lying around, which is worse if you ask me.
How to Keep Squirrels Away?
Use Your Pets
If you have a pet like a dog, a cat, or something which is of predator species to the squirrel, they can be used.
First, you can train your pet to chase the squirrel as soon as it steps toward the tomatoes. But you have to be careful and train them not to harm the critters and only give them a big fat scare. Repetition of this will eventually make the squirrels avoid your garden.
Secondly, if you have a pet who sheds a lot of furs, your squirrel-repelling job is half done. You just have to collect the furs and sprinkle them around your tomato beds. This will signal to the squirrel that there are some predatory species around so it shouldn’t go any near.
Use a Decoy
So if you do not have a pet or your pet is not of the predatory variety then you can set up a dummy boogeyman for the squirrel. All you need to do is purchase or create a statue or model of a hawk, owl, or any other hunter species and perch it near your tomato beds.
The squirrels are intelligent but not that intelligent to make out the reality of your model.
Tip: Make the model a bit light so that it sways. Paint huge black eyes on them. This makes your models believable and scary.
If given a choice squirrels are unlikely to go for your tomatoes. Give them that choice.
Place plates with nuts and seeds a little away from your tomato beds in your gardens. Seeing their favorite snack around, the squirrel will willingly bypass your tomatoes in favor of nuts.
Set Up Sprinklers
Squirrels hate water, they hate getting wet. Use this to your advantage by setting up a motion-detecting water sprinkler near your tomato beds.
As soon as the squirrels approach your beloved reds it is bound to trigger the sprinkler and get sprayed with incessant water till it moves away from there. With the repetition of this, the squirrels will learn to keep away from your tomato beds.
Cage Them In
One of the primitive methods of keeping away those cute pests would be setting up fences. In this case, a cage to be exact.
Squirrels are great jumpers so only a fence would not do you any good. You have to cover the top also.
Set up 4-6 poles (depending on the size of your tomato bed) around the plants. Then tie sturdy bird nets or wire meshes around them. The height of the poles and the nets should depend on your tomato plants and how high they are supposed to grow.
This particular fertilizer has a record for repelling squirrels. Of course, you need to apply it correctly. That is, first you should check the compatibility of your garden soil with this. We suggest you research thoroughly about it.
Though blood meal works wonders on soils, it repels squirrels with its pungent odor. Squirrels have sensitive noses and this sort of intense scent is too much for them to keep on tolerating.
A blood meal is an easily procurable fertilizer. It is essentially a dry powder that is extracted from slaughterhouse waste.
It has a high concentration of ammonia and it smells like, yes, you guessed right. It smells like blood. It increases the nitrogenous content of your soil.
Plant some companion crops alternatively with your tomatoes. Since squirrels are sensitive to strong smells, if you surround your tomatoes with scented plants like mustard or mint then their scent will take over the tomato scent.
Repellent plants like marigolds, alliums, and daffodils are known to have repellent properties.
As a result, the squirrels will not approach your tomato plants to avoid the other scented plants.
Squirrels hate the heat, the spicy heat. So if you mix some cayenne peppers with some water and spray it on your tomatoes it will make the tomatoes unappealing for them.
Also, chili flakes paste applied to tomatoes works. With that one bite, squirrels will move on from your garden.
You can also add some water (keep adding water till the texture of the fluid is light and water-like) to a bottle of hot sauce and spray it on the tomatoes.
Tip: Add a few drops of liquid soap to the mixture to help it stick.
You can also leave some garlic cloves lying around or in your tomato beds. Again the insistent smell of garlic is too much for those little pests.
You can keep a radio on during the daylight hours on your porch. This will keep away squirrels since these sneaky creatures think that there are people near because of the noise.
Also, you can set up motion detectors that sound shrill alarms. These sounds will scare away the squirrels.
Alternative Food Sources
Squirrels are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. By providing them with an alternative food source, you can reduce the likelihood that they will go after your tomatoes.
Some good alternative food sources for squirrels include:
Squirrels love corn and will often go for it instead of your tomatoes. You can provide corn on the cob or dried corn kernels.
Sunflower seeds are another favorite food of squirrels. You can provide them with raw or roasted sunflower seeds.
Squirrels also enjoy pumpkin seeds, which are rich in protein and other nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables
Squirrels will also eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, peaches, berries, and carrots. Consider planting some of these foods in your garden to provide squirrels with an alternative food source.
When providing alternative food sources for squirrels, it’s important to place them away from your tomato plants. This will help to redirect squirrels towards the alternative food source and away from your tomatoes. You may also want to consider using squirrel-proof feeders to prevent squirrels from raiding your bird feeders or other food sources.
Timing of harvest
Another way to protect your tomato plants is to harvest your tomatoes as soon as they are ripe. Squirrels are more likely to go after ripe fruit, so by picking your tomatoes early, you may be able to avoid damage.
Pruning your tomato plants can help to reduce the number of hiding places for squirrels, making it harder for them to access the fruit. Make sure to remove any low-hanging branches or leaves that may provide cover for squirrels.
Traps and Relocation
If all else fails, you may need to resort to trapping and relocating squirrels that are causing damage to your tomato plants. Make sure to check your local regulations before attempting this, as some areas may have restrictions on trapping and relocation.
Though most of the solutions are home remedies you still need to keep in mind some things to get better and safer results.
- Make sure to wash your hands after applying pepper or chili paste.
- Ensure to apply a fresh spray of chili or pepper after rains or else chances are it will wash away.
- You should know the maximum height your trees can grow and use appropriate nets, or else the caging might hinder its growth. Make sure to dig deep, or else squirrels are known to dig through the ground.
- Ensure that you do not keep the decoy stationary, move it frequently. Do not let the critters get used to it.
- Make sure that you do not use any product that can harm the squirrel. Repel yes, but no harm.
Most of the mentioned remedies are easy and doable. But you know the thing is, even these squirrels are part of the very nature where you plant your tomatoes. They attack your gardens because they are looking to satiate their thirst in the summer heat especially.
So what we suggest is to keep a separate plate of nuts and some water in your garden. This serves as the most convenient solution for all parties involved. Though this might attract wild animals. But if you have a fence high enough, they will be unable to cross it.
But again, if you realize none of this is working and the squirrel attacks on your tomatoes get worse, you should call in professional pest control.
Hope this article could alleviate some of your frustration and lift your mood!