Battling Squirrels with Cayenne Pepper

This will be a quick post, but it's an addendum to my earlier post about the worst enemy a small urban garden can face....squirrels.

I've been trying to take in my tomatoes as soon as they start to ripen to avoid the squirrels taking an obnoxious bite out of them, but they're fearless and relentless. They've started taking things even before they start to ripen (of course the go for the heirloom tomatoes when the do this). I'm about to go all Bill Murray on this garden....

One additional method of defense I'm trying is to coat everything in cayenne pepper. This is something I used when the squirrels were first digging up seedlings and it worked pretty well. I've started sprinkling tomato plants and surrounding areas with cayenne pepper. 

Cayenne pepper on a tomato plant

Cayenne pepper on a tomato plant

It's been raining a lot this weekend, which has washed away much of the pepper (and consequently allowed a squirrel to take one of my Jersey Devil tomatoes...). So, I've reapplied. This is a good thing to keep in mind whenever you treat your plants with any powder or spray...after the rain, it's time to reapply.

Sprinkled cayenne pepper around the plants

Sprinkled cayenne pepper around the plants

I'll see if this has any impact on my tomato yield... Good luck to you if you're battling the same thing. Let me know if you have some great techniques for dealing with squirrels, too!

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