We’re about to plant tomatoes again in our small garden, and it reminds me that last year the squirrels got most of the tomatoes before they had a chance to get ripe. Is there anything we can do to keep that from happening again?
When you find that several of your green tomatoes has disappeared from the vine overnight, it’s a pretty good bet the squirrels have been at work. What’s even worse is finding half-eaten green tomatoes on the ground. I’ve had it happen, and I’m sure most other tomato gardeners have, as well.
Suggested deterrents range from blood meal or cayenne pepper sprinkled on the ground around the garden, to bird netting cages built to enclose the plants as they grow.
Some gardeners say that they leave a pan of water near the garden to provide the moisture the squirrels are looking for, hoping they’ll leave the tomatoes alone. Others hang aluminum pans and other shiny objects around the garden to scare the squirrels away. Those things may work for a little while, but squirrels are pretty clever and will realize quickly that they’re harmless, so it’s not a long-term solution. Last year, I draped a large inflatable snake over one of the cages, and that may have spooked them a bit; I moved the snake around every couple of days to try to keep them guessing.
Other ideas? Readers of The Garden Bench: If you’ve tried things that work to keep squirrels from grabbing the tomatoes, tell about them in the comments. They’re ideas worth sharing before tomato season arrives.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
April 16: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood. Refreshments at 6:30 p.m., program at 7 p.m. Speaker is Barbara Wise, author of Container Gardening For All Seasons, on “Planting Beautiful Containers and More.” The meeting is open to the public. www.ppsmt.org.
April 16: Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee meets at 7 p.m. at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Speaker is Barry Jones, topic is “Compact to Miniature Orchids.” Learn more about the Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee at www.tnorchid.com.
April 20: Herb Society of Nashville Herb Sale: Herb favorites and hard-to-find varieties of annual and perennial herbs and plants for companion planting. New this year: a square-foot gardening display and handmade pottery markers by Roy Overcast. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairground Sports Arena Building. Free admission; $5 parking fee at the Fairgrounds. To learn more: www.herbsocietynashville.org.
April 20 – 21: The Skillery Grow Down: A weekend of gardening classes and workshops presented in partnership with Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program. Events are held at HON’s Urban Farm in South Nashville and at various locations throughout Nashville. For a complete schedule, registration and fee details, visit www.TheSkillery.com.
April 27: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville Herb & Craft Fair: Herb plants, native and heirloom tomato plants; handmade soaps, pressed-flower cards, garden calendars, jewelry; homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, gourmet vinegars, mustards, chutneys, jams, jellies and more. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd. www.firstuunashville.org/herbfair for details.