Wednesday, May 20, 2009

enemies in cute outfits

As a proud member of Alpha Gamma Delta, whose mascot happens to be none other than a squirrel, I fear that the powers that be may revoke my membership because of this post. But I can't help myself. I'm desperate. Since moving into our house and embracing my nascent gardening career, I have quickly learned that squirrels are not my friends. I've grown to detest them. And I am on a mission to rid the cute, but destructive critters from our yard.

Weeks ago, I filled two planting boxes in the back yard: the first one with nine herbs to supplement the oregano already there and the second, smaller one with two pepper and two tomato plants. It was a beautiful afternoon and I finished my work outside with a joyful heart and a sense of accomplishment.

I ate my breakfast on the deck the next morning to admire the yard and I saw two squirrels digging madly in the herb garden. I chased them away and tried to repair the large holes that they created. The seeds that I had so neatly organized into sections were now scattered across the entire bed. Thankfully, the herbs have finally sprouted, but my garden is now a chaotic mess of basil growing amidst rosemary growing amidst parsley, and so on.

After attempting to repair the herb fiasco, I turned around and saw that ALL of my tomato and pepper plants had been uprooted, and were lying limply on the ground, roots completely exposed and chewed off in some cases! I replanted them, only to find the vegetable plants dug up again when I returned from work that day. After another day of this song and dance with the squirrels, I charged to Home Depot and invested in some Critter Ridder, a pepper-like spray that supposedly deters animals, but doesn't harm them. Under my careful watch and the pepper spray, the squirrels seem to have stayed away from the herbs and vegetables since then, although all of the plants are growing quite slowly and look a little fragile, possibly due to their tumultuous first few days in the ground.

After planting Impatiens in the front yard and carefully spraying the Critter Ridder around the flowers, I arrived home from work one day to be greeted by an Impatiens plant with pink blooms, carefully uprooted and placed on the sidewalk directly in front of our front gate. Brad is convinced that the squirrels are taunting me on purpose now. They obviously don't appreciate my morning routine of banging on the back door and yelling, "Excuse me!" to scare them from the yard.

My most recent battle with these pests has left me bewildered and confused. I planted beautiful Gerber daisies in a large box on our deck. They were stunning. Colorful. Perky. Joy-inducing. Until I came home from work one day and noticed that something had cleanly bitten off the blooms of about half of the flowers. At first I thought that it was a bird because I had carefully applied the Critter Ridder to the box's border and the soil appeared relatively undisturbed. Then the next day, I peered out of our back door and caught a squirrel with a large red daisy in its greedy little paws. After chasing the squirrel away, I went a little nuts with the pepper spray and unintentionally ruined the rest of the blooms. You'll find a picture of the sorry mess below. Notice the many erect, flowerless stems, and then the droopy blooms that I accidentally killed with the pepper spray. The plants are still alive though, so I hope that they will bloom again if they are not scarred for life at this point.

Seriously, what do I do about these squirrels?


SD Dad said...

Can't help with your critters, but at least they are smaller and eat less than our large mule deer.

we are told that a paint ball gun and frozen paint balls will work on the deer for short periods of time.

Jennifer said...

Oh wow. We're lucky here--not much trouble with squirrels or deer. My mom had gerber daisies that rabbits ate down to the ground--blossoms, plants, everything. They must be tasty! I hope you figure something out. (Great job on the bedroom. It looks beautiful!)

Organized Living by Amy said...

We dont have the pepper spray, but we've had decent luck scattering red pepper flakes throughout the garden. Buy a super larger bottle and try it.