Natural Deterrent (or how to keep people and squirrels out of your vegetables)


Okay, how many of you saw the misspelling I made in the title.  No, it was not done on purpose.  It was an example of spelling phonetically, according to how my brain hears the word.  Not always the best way to go.

At night, we bring the produce stand/table closer to the house just to detour any seekers of mischief.  There really have not been that many issues.  Last year was probably the biggest issue and it was resolved fairly quickly.  A pumpkin was a casualty in that one, but everything else made it out unscathed.  Still, the table gets brought closer every night.

This year we have taken the additional step of covering our produce stand at night.  Nothing fancy.  An extra table cloth, or plastic table cover, thrown over the items on the table and tucked in under some of the baskets so it doesn’t blow off.

At first, this had nothing to do with people and everything to do with bold, tomato biting squirrels.  It did take two incidences of finding tomatoes bitten into or partially eaten to decide to add a layer of ‘protection’.  Even then, the squirrels were not fully detoured, as they would risk climbing the onto the table in broad daylight if it was placed too close to their tree, by the street.  You could see them sitting on a limb eyeing the juicy tomatoes.

Covering the produce stand has also had a second benefit.  You see, what I mean by “bringing the stand closer to the house” means that I actually put it up on the porch.  It is protected from dew, rain and wind, and keeps animals from bothering it most nights.

Rain has not been a big issue this year, but we have had some rainy weather as of late.  The first time we had a very rainy day this fall, I left the stand on the porch as I didn’t want everything to sit out in the down pour.  I then had to leave the house and run an errand.  When I came back, I could tell someone had been to the stand.  Sure enough, there was money in the money box.  Hmmm.  Okay.  Perhaps it was a friend stopping by.  A few days later, while restocking some veggies, a customer stops by.  In the midst of visiting they mention that when they stopped by a few days before, they got some produce from the stand.  As in, they went up on the porch and bought produce.  They assumed I put it there because of the rain and that it was okay to just walk up on the porch.  This particular customer wasn’t scary in the least and it didn’t bother me too much.

A few days later, in the morning, I hear footsteps on my porch and look outside to see who is there.  It is early-ish and I hadn’t put the stand out yet.  Two customers, this time men, were on the porch, had removed the cover and were looking at produce.  That time, I wasn’t so fond of the idea.

Now, I make sure to tuck the cover in such that it is very obvious.  There have been a few customers who come to the door, knock and then ask if I have such and such.  I very much prefer this method.  We have talked about moving the stand somewhere else at night.  Perhaps even a different location on my porch so that it isn’t as easy to get to.  However, it has not been a big enough issue to warrent the extra effort and change in habit that would take.

I don’t want this to become to big of an issue inside my head, as the community really has been great about being honest and respectful.  We haven’t really had any issues this year, knock on wood.  Everyone seems to appreciate the fact that it is there, whether it be because of convenience or prices or the fact that it is fresh, local produce.  For this reason, we have chosen not to really make an issue of this new habit that seems to be developing.

For now, having the cover tucked under more obviously seems to detour both squirrels and people alike … as long as we remember to actually put it on at night.


As a side story, I wanted to share something that shows just how great some of my neighbors are.  I was not at home, but my friend was.  The friend who does that stand with me.  She noticed a customer taking a long time at the stand and picking up and putting down several different things, and then putting a lot of tomatoes and such into a bag.  She decided to go and see if the customer needed help.  After putting on shoes and heading out the door, she then saw someone she knew, whose relatives were the previous owners of my house, pull up to the stand.  The first customer left.  When my friend started talking to the second car, she was told that they didn’t actually need anything.  They just wanted to make sure that the first customer actually paid for the items they were buying.  (They had.)  They probably knew I wasn’t home and was just helping keep an eye on the table.  I’m not sure what says ‘Neighborliness’ more than that.  It is experiences like this one that help keep me going with this some days.  That and hearing from those on fixed incomes who really appreciate the fresh produce they are able to get.  Yes, we could charge more, but we don’t need to.