Friday, July 20, 2012

Editorial: Food Fight: me vs squirrel

Who's been eating my tomatoes?

Until a few days ago, four huge green tomatoes hung from one lovely plant on my patio. I have been babying this plant since May. That's when my neighbors launched their third annual tomato growing contest and distributed seedlings to eager participants.

But then two tomatoes disappeared entirely. I suspected a woodchuck, which I've seen in the yard occasionally. At breakfast one morning, my son spotted the culprit in the act. A squirrel.

I rigged up a chicken wire cage, sprayed the plant with deer spray, and hoped for the best. But the squirrel was determined to eat the remaining tomatoes.

Yes, we have a lot of squirrels in the yard. But green tomatoes? I had no idea. Apparently, word on the internet is that squirrels will eat tomatoes, especially during droughts. [right this second, I see a squirrel digging in my veggie bed, which I just reseeded with mustard greens.]

I grow food for "fun." But caterpillars munch on grape leaves. Aphids attack a dwarf cherry tree. Slugs eat Asian greens. The woodchuck gets what it can, when it breaks in. And now the squirrels. 

The brainy side of me thinks:
Now this is the kind of experience that reminds me that we share our earth with other living things. 

My primal instinct says:
My yard is already protected by a 6-foot fence to keep the deer out. And chicken wire along the bottom for rabbits. What's next? Squirrel repellent? Ultrasonic noisemaker? Powerwasher? Rat traps? BB gun? How can I blast the #$%#^ squirrel nest from my sugar maple? 

Huh. That must be the same line of thinking that got us to putting bounties on animal pests and poisoning our land, water, air -- and our own bodies -- with pesticides.

For now, I'm throwing pinecones.


  1. Just a few hours after posting this, caught the woodchuck eating the greens again. Grrr.

  2. Varmints! One thing you might try is hosting a friend's dog once in a while for a day or two. Let him/her spread some liquid repellent around, establish a presence, etc. We never had any problems with critters in the vegetables when we had a dog. I can't say I've experimented with this, but it can't hurt, right?

  3. Ah, good idea! Lots of people walk their dogs past our house. Maybe I need to invite them for a visit.

  4. I'm quite amused that this post appears to have gotten a poorly-disguised comment/ad! I'm not publishing it, unless someone can convince me that it came from a real person. Aside from the fact that it sounded like an ad, it also mentioned you can buy the product at a store that does not even exist here in Tompkins County. Ah, the internet...