Squirrels And Gardens

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I've seen posts here and there, within the gardening part of the forum, about the harm that squirrels do to gardens, and I know that they can. But I have several Eastern Gray Squirrels here, yet I haven't seen any damage to our garden from them. Each year, we plant a garden, some thing from seeds, and others that have been started in the house, yet I haven't seen any indication that the squirrels are bothering any of it.

    Because we don't use insecticides, we have some losses from insects, particularly if I'm not paying close attention, but the squirrels seem to leave everything alone.

    Perhaps this is because I feed them. Maybe because there is always food out for the squirrels, they don't feel the need to work for it by digging in the garden. In fact, the few times that I've seen them digging in the garden, it has been to bury nuts that they have taken from the squirrel feeder, but that's in the fall after we've already harvested our crops.

    At one time, a few days ago, we counted twelve squirrels that we could see through one window, but that was because I had just put new food out for them. Only one eats at a time so it's kind of fun watching them chase one another around the trees and away from the bowl.
     
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  2. Mari North

    Mari North Very Well-Known Member
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    I'd say you're pretty lucky there, @Ken Anderson ! Lots of squirrels here, too, and we feed them as well... a lot. :) I saw one of them take off with a half ear of feeding corn in his mouth this afternoon... don't ask me how his mouth was big enough, but he hooked onto it somehow.

    When they're not stealing the ears whole, they "plant" the kernels all over the yard and the neighbors' yards as soon as the ground is thawed and corn stalks start coming up.

    And bulbs :( they take my tulip and daffodil bulbs and run across the street to "replant" them in my neighbor's yard. Maddening, those little rascals!

    I realize that's not destroying a garden, but I don't have a garden with veggies... just the flower bulbs. I have a feeling that if I'd have one, they'd find a way to ruin it for me. :rolleyes: The problem here with garden destruction back when we *did* have a few veggies out, was due to rabbits and deer and not so much the squirrels.
     
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  3. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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    Yes, they go for the bulbs, especially tulips. Most varieties of daffodils are too bitter for them, so they tend to survive the squirrels.
     
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  4. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    I feed the squirrels and birds. I have not seen much damage from the squirrels if any to the plants in the yard.
     
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  5. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    I wonder when I will see real squirrels on the loose. When my husband was in London, one of his first letters said something about the squirrels in the park, climbing trees and probably picking the fruits (or nuts). And there was that letter that he saw a dead squirrel on the road, probably ran over by a vehicle.

    There are no squirrels here although our tarsier monkeys in the island of Bohol is considered a tame squirrel. But that's a different story altogether. With real squirrels, I guess I just have to be content with the articles that I read and the posts here.
     
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  6. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Greeter
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    We have not actually had problems with the squirrels damaging the garden once it is up and growing, but they sure did dig up the seeds and eat those.
    This year, I am starting everything in the house, and then setting it out after it is growing. We are also feeding the squirrels more, although I am not entirely sure that this was a good idea or not. Before, we had a few squirrels ; but now that we are feeding them, I think they have notified all of their aunts and cousins, and the Whole Squirrel Family !
    The birds have done that, too.
    For the last year or so, we had a cute pair of little mourning doves that would promenade through the yard and look for whatever goodies that I had set out for them.
    Now that we have the two bird feeders on the front deck, and the squirrel feeder on the cedar tree, we have at least 20 mourning doves that come in the yard and hunt for goodies .
    Of course, Bobby and I enjoy watching all of the birds and the squirrels ; so feeding them is a good thing.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Yeah, I've got way more squirrels now than before I started feeding them.
     
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  8. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Veteran Member
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    We feed the birds and our ducks. The squirrels eat most of the bird food and the geese help themselves to the duck food. I've never had a problem with squirrels in the vegetable garden but they do like the tulip bulbs.
    My big problem with squirrels is the fruit trees. They will eat everything, not waiting until the fruit is fully ripe.
     
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  9. Von Jones

    Von Jones Veteran Member
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    I think I shared my squirrel stories already but I don't recall if I shared how I prevented the squirrels from digging up the bulbs in my yard. It's really simple just cover the area with a screen until the sprout appears. Not the nylon type because they chew through it. I do container gardening as well and found squirrels digging very deep to the roots and destroyed my flowers. So I cut smaller pieces and lay them at the base and then cover it with moss that is used in artificial flower arrangements. I don't see small piles of soil around my containers any more. Yea!
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Since I started this thread a couple of years ago, we have had a few bulb plants pop up in places other than where we had planted them. One that I had planted in the front yard flower garden turned up in the back yard vegetable garden, and a couple of others were replanted in another part of our front yard. I figure the squirrels must know what they're doing.

    I have also found that if I don't have food out for them on the fire escape now, they start slapping at the window. Entitlement in action, I suppose.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  11. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Haha... cute squirrels!

    I see a couple in my back yard but I have to chase them away before I let Pickles out...you should see how fast those little legs of his can run if he sees a squirrel or bird.
     
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  12. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Very Well-Known Member
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    That's great @Ken Anderson I personally welcome any wildlife I see. Cute how they are arranging your garden for you!
     
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    We have mostly gray squirrels here. Although a pair of red squirrels show up every now and then, they are much smaller than the gray squirrels so I am guessing that they get run away from the feeder. While the two red squirrels seemed to have no problem being at the feeder at the same time, the gray squirrels never do that. One gray squirrel will run another off before approaching the feeder, and sometimes they spend all their time running one another off, and the blue jays fly away with all the peanuts.

    Anyhow, what I have noticed, with the gray squirrels, is that they seem to have a quota in the morning. When they first show up at the feeder, they will haul stuff away to stash away somewhere. Then, at some point, they seem to have met their quota, and they will eat their fill, usually in the area of the feeder. When there are nuts, they will pick a nut out of the feeder, carry it onto the railing, and then eat it while looking over the yard. The feeder is on a second-floor fire escape.

    Unlike the gray squirrels, the blue jays will work together. Usually in pairs, one of them will stand watch on the railing while the other grabs a peanut and flies sway. Then the one that had been standing watch will grab a peanut and fly away with it.

    Pigeons, on the other hand, are like cockroaches. Dozens of them will be at the feeder at the same time, often knocking it over. There are four pigeons that are usually together. When they come alone, I don't mind so much, because they don't make a mess. But they are usually then joined by uncountable numbers of others. Pigeons eat too much anyhow, so I usually chase them away.

    Unlike the blue jays or the squirrels, the pigeons will fly away when Ella (the cat) slaps the window from the inside. The blue jays, on the other hand, will look at her as if to say, "There's glass, you idiot. You can't touch me." The squirrels will come up to the window for a closer look, which drives Ella mad.
     
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I thought I should amend my opening post because this is the first year that the cute little ingrates raided my garden. Although they leave behind the corn that is in the squirrel food that I feed them, they pulled up most of the corn in my garden, as well as a lot of the beans. Before this, the only damage they caused seemed to be from digging holes to bury nuts.

    I don't know for a fact that it was the squirrels because have other critters around as well, such as skunks and raccoons, but my money is on the squirrels.
     
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  15. Pam Sellers

    Pam Sellers Member
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    We have lots of squirrels, brown bunnies and deer around our property. The squirrels and birds share the same feeder. I have found the Red Cardinals are kinda on the "bossy" side and run off the squirrels and little birds that are feeding. But when they get done, the little ones come right back! It does keep me busy making sure the feeders are full! Had to put a wind chime on a shepard's hook around my "Knock Out Roses" to keep the deer from stripping the bush every Spring!
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    My feeder began as a bird feeder but the squirrels came, and they are awfully fun to watch. The chickadees don't come much anymore since the squirrels took over but the blue jays compete very well with them. We also get cardinals, but not often, and a woodpecker will come when I have suet out, although he usually busies himself pecking on the adjacent tree.
     
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  17. Nancy Hart

    Nancy Hart Very Well-Known Member
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    I used to have a bird feeder with black oil sunflower seeds for the cardinals. It was up on a pole with aluminum flashing wrapped around so the squirrels couldn't climb up.

    One day a mourning dove showed up, and every time he came back he would bring more with him. Eventually there was a whole flock of mourning doves. They seemed to work as a team.

    The feeder was too small for more than one dove, so they designated one to land on the feeder and scratch all the sunflower seeds out with his feet and onto the ground. The rest of the doves would walk around under the feeder and pick up the seeds from the ground.

    The cardinals gave up and so did I. The doves could clean out the feeder in no time.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
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  18. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    We have pigeons that act like your doves. It was okay when there was four of them but thirty of them will clean out the feeder in no time, and leave a big mess behind. Fortunately for the squirrels, pigeons are big wusses and one squirrel can drive off a flock of pigeons. My cat slaps the window when the pigeons are there, and that scares them off too.
     
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  19. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    We aren't supposed to put feeders out during the warm months as it attracts bears. We used to feed the birds all winter, but haven't in recent years. The squirrels we have a re the little Red Squirrels and they are real pests, especially if they can get into an attic or shed. We have a plywood "dumpster" that we use, and the buffers chewed through the plywood to get at the garbage inside.
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I mentioned this in another post, but I will again. The squirrels frequently dig up bulbs that we plant and replant them elsewhere. Of course, we don't know about it until they pop up in our vegetable garden or elsewhere in the yard, where we leave them. I figure the squirrels are probably better landscapers than I am. Here's one that's been growing at the entrance to our driveway for a few years. It flowered three years ago, then the guy that our neighbor hired to mow his lawn mowed it down, as it is adjacent to their yard. Last year, it didn't flower, but this year it has flowered and has several other buds that are ready to go. It looks like some kind of a lily; actually like a daylily but the flower lasts for quite a well, so I expect it's some other kind of lily. A daylily isn't actually a lily, you know.

    lily.jpg
     
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  21. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    The worst threat we found to our garden in Missouri was not squirrels, they only invaded the insides of our walls and ceiling! When my wife found a bunch of vegetable plants uprooted one morning, we determined it was Ground Hogs! Woodchucks. They were huge, resembling rats. Size of a small dog. A fence won't stop them, they burrow under it. I really could see no valid reason for these beasts to be present, so got rid of them as they appeared. Next came the Opossums. They posed much less threat to the garden, but had the most fiercesome-looking curved teeth I could imagine! Caught one in a trap, by accident, was after the Ground Hogs, and when I approached the 'Possum viciously began biting the wire sides of the trap. I had no doubt that given the chance, those teeth would have sunk into my flesh!

    • [​IMG]
     
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  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Growing up, we tamed a fox, a couple of raccoons, and a skunk, but one animal that we were unable to even come close to taming was a woodchuck. It came to us as a baby. Probably, its mother had been killed in a trap, but I don't remember. Dad brought it home. We fed it with a bottle and tried to make friends with it, but the woodchuck was having none of that. From the very start, it would bite every chance it got but its bites were tolerable when it was a baby. As a juvenile or young adult, no one dared handle it without wearing rubber gloves, and even then it hurt. While the fox, the raccoons, and the skunk were free to go as soon as they were old enough to survive on their own, they all stuck around for quite some time after being given their freedom. The woodchuck just kept walking.
     
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  23. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ken Anderson
    Yet, every groundhog day, the top-hatted jurisdictional in Punxatawny holds in his arms "Punxatawny (whatever they call him)", docile as though drugged.......
    Frank
     
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  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    -- Penn Live, on Punxsutawney Phil

    - Weather.com, on Jimmy the Groundhog
     
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  25. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    This year, I planted mostly climbing beans rather than the bush beans that I planted last year. Although I had set up an old ladder and several strings for the beans to climb on, they got away from me. They grew fast, they were prolific, and they soon reached the top of everything that I had prepared for them. Next year, I'll be better prepared. We got a couple of good crops of beans this year. I just picked the second crop. The foliage was so thick it was hard to find all of the beans. Some of the ones that ripened a bit too much for eating, we're drying for seed next year. Plus we'll be going to the MOFGA Fair later this month, and they give away a bunch of prize-winning beans there. This summer's crop was from last year's MOFGA Fair, and they grew so much better than any of the ones that I have bought elsewhere.

    We have a few grape vines, but they haven't produced any grapes yet. One of them is three years old now, the other two are two years old. The older one is getting to be pretty tall, but still no grapes.

    The lingonberries are doing great. This wasn't a great year for berries overall, so I didn't get a lot of berries from them but the plants have certainly been filling out the space that I've made for them. I expanded the space either last year or the year before, I don't remember, but they've nearly filled it in.

    I tried planting corn, but they got started late, for one thing. For another, between the squirrels and Ella, my wife's cat (she's my wife's cat when she's destructive), most of them have been pulled up. I still have a few plants but they're small and I doubt we'll get anything from them.

    I don't know how many onions we might have below ground but most of the plants, above ground, have disappeared. I'll give them another week or so and go digging, to see what we have. I was too lazy to thin the carrots so I don't expect much there.

    Our front flower garden is doing pretty good. Most of our perennials survived the winter, and several of the ones we planted last fall came up too, although the squirrels relocated a few of them. Although we occasionally add an annual, we're looking for a perennial garden thick enough to hold its own against the weeds. I am also striving for perennials that flower at different times of the year so that we have flowers throughout the spring and summer. In pursuit of this, I even dug up a weed from the town's compost site a few years ago. I don't know what it is but it produces a lot of wild-looking flowers that last a long time so, for me, it's a plant and not a weed. I started with one, and there are several of them now.

    We planted twenty bulbs a week ago. I forget what they were now, but the squirrels dug most of them up. They'll probably pop up in places we're not expecting to see them. Meanwhile, I have replaced them and covered the planting site with compostable netting held down by compostable stakes, and that seems to have done the trick because the squirrels haven't dug them up yet. The netting is supposed to compost in a couple of years, but the stakes will last for four or five years. When I first built the rock garden in front, I covered the whole thing with compostable netting, but instead of staking it down, I covered it with peat moss. That's all fully composted now, however.

    We have a lot of squirrels this year. So far, they are often a pain in the butt, but in an amusing sort of way. Although I see a red squirrel every now and then, we have mostly gray squirrels. I'm up for the challenge.
     
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