Squirrels: The Enemy of the Garden

I am writing this post in anger, I'll admit, but there's some wisdom and warnings to be passed on, so I will post in this state anyway.

I came home this evening to find this:

squirrels-ate-my-tomato

Do you know what that is? Seasoned gardeners may recognize it; New gardeners, consider this a warning. THIS is the result of an obnoxious squirrel eating my tomato...no, only eating HALF of my first ripe Monica Tomato. They do this. THIS is what they do. I saw this on the ground and thought something may have gotten into my compost tumbler, but no....they went for the fresh stuff.

I've had my share of squirrel issues. They dug up my seeds and seedlings earlier this year. Now, they're doing their usual mid-late season thing of "half-eating" my tomatoes. I was JUST chatting with a friend about this today, as she said squirrels were getting into her garden (and raccoons, but that's another tip for another day). When I made a suggestion to her about how to deal with this she said, "You should write a tip about this." Well, here it is....it's a pretty simple one.

TIP: Take the tomatoes inside after they start to ripen and continue to ripen them indoors. 

I know there is a tendency to think that you should leave them on the vine as long as possible. Believe me, I would love nothing more. But, with the constant squirrel battle, you may be better off taking them in early (or you won't take them in at all). I work too hard to have these little fluffy-tailed thieves steal my crops.

So, what to do with them when you bring them in? You can either put them on the window sill or put them in a paper bag. As I wrote about in a previous post, you can put an apple in the bag with the tomatoes to help them ripen faster. Here's another tip: Hang onto that post link for what to do at end-of-season time when you've got a bunch of green tomatoes and cool days/nights without enough sun to ripen them. 

From now on, I will bring in my tomatoes early. I brought my two other near-ripe Monica tomatoes indoors....stupid squirrels.

My two ripening Monica tomatoes

My two ripening Monica tomatoes

Update: If you're looking for another way to deal with squirrels, read my new post, "Battling Squirrels with Cayenne Pepper."

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine