Monday, July 4, 2016

Squirrels (2)

Someone (I suspect Merry Emlaw because the clipping refers to Oregon State) left me a news clipping about squirrels attacking tomatoes. The Master Gardener in the newspaper responds, in part, "I do know a number of people are submitting complaints about squirrel activity this year, and also that squirrels are opportunists. Those juicy [tomato] stems are one of their water sources."

Watching a squirrel build a leaf nest on the hillside is one thing, but if they start plotting against my Jaune Flamme up on Tomato Alley on the roof, they stop being cute little furry scurriers and become alien invaders. I see no signs of assaults at present -- just about everyone's plants seem to be doing fine. Not, perhaps, as fine as mine*, but not showing any rodent toothmarks about the main stems. There are no trees overhanging the roof, and, even if they coveted our tomato stems, I'm not sure a squirrel could clamber twelve floors up the side of the building to reach them. I certainly hope that is the case. Apparently only limited means of defense are available to gardeners whose tomato stems are less securely situated than ours. Squirrels can reach through chicken wire and "you can trap them," the OSU Master Gardener says, "but it is illegal to transport them elsewhere." I can fantasize about Bryan, the groundskeeper, sitting in wait on the roof with a pellet gun, but I suspect a lot of people, certainly including Bryan, would find that objectionable.

*Since I have no responsibility for the plant other than to converse with it now and again and to twist the ripe tomatoes off, and since I therefore cannot claim any personal credit for its flourishing, I feel I can brag about it without fear of giving offense. If I'm wrong about that, please let me know and accept my apologies in advance.


  1. A perfect example of our ambivalent relationship with nature. But, in this case, may the Jaune Flamme prevail!

  2. Hmm, you can trap them but not transport them. Does that mean that you would then have a pet squirrel for life, after trapping it?

    I've seen a few photos of squirrel damage to tomatoes. The tomatoes had actual bites taken out of them--holes in the fruit that were about the size of a squirrel mouth. Some squirrels must do more than munch on the stems.

    Hope that the roof garden will be too much of a challenge for them!

  3. My neighborhood has an abundance of squirrels, and I love watching them. However, I no longer plant many food crops because the squirrels got to them before I did, and they didn't leave enough for me. I felt that if they wouldn't share the bounty with me, I just wouldn't plant. I don't remember them going after tomatoes, but they made a mad rush for corn and peas. If you've ever put up a "squirrel proof" bird feeder and watched over time, you'll find squirrels trying every maneuver possible to reach the bird's food. They'll nearly always figure it out, then empty the feeder by filling their cheek pouches, and running off to bury the seeds for future use. Very industrious!