You don’t need a degree in horticulture to know how to keep squirrels from eating tomatoes; you can use easy tricks to catch these little sneaky thieves.
Have you noticed your tomatoes are:
- Chewed on one side?
- Missing just when they are about to get ripe and juicy?
- Lying on the ground in a pulpy mess?
If yes, sneaky squirrels have been visiting your garden and destroying your tomatoes.
Squirrels are often viewed as fun and sneaky always inspiring smiles and laughter but not for a gardener. These bushy-tailed creatures are a source of frustration to gardeners because they gobble up everything on the farm. Squirrels like feasting on garden seedlings, berries, fruits, flowers, tree buds, and leaves. Like rodents, squirrels have long incisor teeth that never stop growing. They tend to gnaw on all sorts of plants to keep these teeth on the short side.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes?
Squirrels love to eat tomatoes in general but they will eat them when they are thirsty. If you make it a habit to keep a water source in your garden, they will not touch your tomatoes. Adding a birdbath will kill two birds with one stone – the birds will bathe and squirrels drink water. This is enough distraction to keep the squirrels from your tomatoes.
Signs that Squirrels are Visiting Your Garden
Squirrels create unimaginable damages in a garden. They are active during daylight hours and will leave signs like:
- Nibbled Seed Heads. Squirrels tend to nibble repining seed heads from the outside edges. They are commonly drawn to sunflowers.
- Shallow Digging in Planting Beds. Freshly planted seedbeds are a huge attraction to squirrel target. They enjoy unearthing and eating the seeds. The digging is very shallow so look carefully.
- Bite Marks. Squirrels eat part of a fruit and leave the rest behind while other times they eat it all. Squirrels favorites include squash, cucumbers, eggplants, and beans.
- Missing Plants. You might find some seedlings completely missing from the seedbed.
- Container Digging. You might notice your container gardens for herbs, veggies, and flowers are dug into. That’s most likely a squirrel trying to hide nuts or unearth young plants to eat.
- Half-eaten Flowers. Squirrels love daisy blooms but most times eat them halfway. A good clue that squirrels are visiting your garden is a half-eaten daisy with the center disk missing.
- Catch it in the Act. The best way to find out that a squirrel you are dealing with, is to catch it in the act.
If you spot any of the above signs, then it’s time to find out how to keep squirrels from eating tomatoes and anything else you produce.
Maybe you are interested in reading about How to Keep Chipmunks Out of Gardens?
How to Keep Squirrels from Eating Your Tomatoes
Cage them Out. To keep these little scoundrels out, try creating cages like the chicken ones. Erect a simple wire cage with a bird netting roof. This is easy DIY protection that any gardener can install. Depending on the layout of your garden and the number of tomato plants you are growing, you can build larger cages to cover small beds or single cages to protect individual plants. Remember you can only cage determinate tomatoes that grow to a height of fewer than 4 feet with ripening happening at once.
Bring in a Predator. Most gardeners have cats or dogs as pets. These pets can work with you to send squirrels parking. Dogs and cats are great in deterring rodents. They do not harm the squirrels but frighten them away. You will get your pet to exercise as it runs around your garden and you will send squirrels scampering for their safety never to return. This will be a win-win situation.
Make that Squirrel Cocktail. Red hot pepper tea is something many gardeners swear by. Mix up a batch and spray around the border of the garden and squirrels will never enter your garden.
Check out How to Get Rid of a Possum
How to Keep Squirrels out of your Garden using Hot Pepper Tea
- Fresh Cayenne pepper
- Hot water
- White vinegar
- Dishwashing soap
- Vegetable oil
How to Make Tea Recipe
- Before you start, remember to wear a long-sleeved shirt and protective rubber gloves like the kind you wear when washing dishes.
- Chop coarsely at least 4 pieces of fresh cayenne pepper and place them in a container.
- Add 1 ½ cups of hot water and ½ cup of white vinegar and seal tightly. Shaking gently 2-3 times a day, let the jar sit for four days.
- On the 4th day, put a strainer in a funnel and place it into a spray bottle. Pour the pepper mixture into the spray bottle and discard the peppers plus their seeds in the strainer.
- Add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the spray bottle. To mix all the ingredients into a light emulsion, screw the spray lid on tightly and gently shake the bottle.
Protect Tomatoes from Squirrels and Enjoy Your Harvest
Do not let this solution get on to your skin or anywhere near your mouth or nose. Sniffing it in is not a good idea either. The hot components of pepper known as Capsaicin can cause severe irritation upon contact.
What are the most common reasons that squirrels are in a person's garden?
There are many factors that can cause squirrels to invade your home. The most common reasons are the following:
- Poor diet- They may be looking for food or storing nuts in your attic or sheds.
- Nesting- A female squirrel will make a nest in the spring to have her babies.
- Damaged exteriors- They may climb through any small opening they find on your house, including windows, doors, and vents.
- You feed them! Squirrels are often attracted to homes that have bird feeders or who leave pet food outside.
The best way to repel these furry friends is by making sure that your yard and garden is free of any food attractants and the exterior of your home is sealed properly so that squirrels can't get in.
What is the best way to repel squirrels?
To repel squirrels from your garden, you need to find out why they are attracted to it in the first place. The most common reason is that they are looking for food, so make sure that your garden is not attracting them with bird feeders or other food sources and that you seal any potential entrances to your home..
If this is not the case, then you should try to install a motion-activated sprinkler or other deterrent device near where the squirrels are entering your garden area.
Other tactics include:
-Use a hose to spray water at the critter, startling them away
-Place an ultrasonic device near your garden
-Install metal spikes around the perimeter of your property, or wire mesh or metal sheeting
What smells do squirrels hate?
Squirrels are not bothered by most odors, but there are some that they don't like. The smell of ammonia, vinegar, soap and other strong chemicals seem to annoy them. They also dislike the smell of citrus fruits and roses.
They are notorious for hating a few things, namely cat urine and pepper spray. Those are the only two sights and smells that will quickly send a squirrel on its way.
Garlic is a big deterrent for squirrels. This allium plant is a common ingredient in cooking as it adds flavor to dishes, but for some animals, especially squirrels, the strong odor is downright disgusting and will discourage them from coming anywhere near your yard. Try planting some garlic cloves around your porch for an easy way to keep these furry critters at bay!
While there are many different smells that squirrels dislike, the most common way to deter them is by using a mixture of cayenne, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Mix this concoction with water and use as a spray or sprinkle on your garden.
Do coffee grounds keep squirrels away?
Coffee grounds are a popular way to keep squirrels away because they give off a scent that’s not too appealing to them, particurly as they have a very strong sense of smell.
The idea to use coffee grounds as an organic repellent for squirrels came into being after a woman found that she was unable to enjoy her morning cup of coffee because of the squirrels that were climbing on her lawn. It is said that the caffeine in the grounds are what keep squirrels away.