Natural Deterrents From My Yard

I’m going to apologize ahead of time for the blue pictures.  These were in the shade.  As this isn’t a post about taking photos, I hope you can ignore that quality and appreciate the photos for what they are, a visual of what I am talking about.

The squirrels have really been an annoyance this year.  To start off with, they’ve eaten the majority of the bird seed I put out a month or so ago.  So much so that I stopped putting it out till I could figure out a solution.

Then they started eating the flower bulbs I put in pots on either side of my stoop.  Granted, these were left over bulbs, so I wasn’t really upset about the money lost on purchasing them.  But that doesn’t mean I wanted them eaten.  I wanted flowers.

At about the same time I realized they were eating my onion bulbs in the new garden bed.  I had hoped the squirrels would leave them alone, being that the bulbs were onions.  I’m mean, my worms will eat everything but onions when I feed them scraps.  No such luck.

To keep all the onion sets from being eaten I placed my old raised bed covers on tops of the new bed in hopes that the squirrels wouldn’t be determined enough to crawl though the small gap left between the chicken wire and the edge of the bed.  (The covers don’t fit very well and actually are hanging off three sides; I put them end to end as the  new bed is longer and narrower than the old raised beds.)  This solution seems to have worked, though it doesn’t look the best and won’t work once I plant larger plants in that bed.

Now it was time to figure how to keep my tulip bulbs from being eaten.  As these are planters near the front door, I didn’t exactly want to place chicken wire over them.  I knew I just needed to make it harder for the squirrels to dig, obstruct them if I could.  Out of frustration, and lack of time, I reach down, picked up a stick and broke it into pieces.  The pieces I laid on top of the soil in the planters.  IT WORKED!  I couldn’t believe it.  Out of the past seven days I think we have lost 1 bulb.  This one happened to be in a large-ish gap among the twigs, which I quickly closed up.  A benefit of this solution is that you can’t see it from the sidewalk.  A drawback is that you can see it when you walk up to the front door.  However, as it looks more natural than chicken wire, is free, and is renewable I’m okay with that.

planters with sticks to keep out squirrels 2

planters with sticks

planters with sticks to keep out squirrels

With this problem out of the way, I began to think about my other raised beds.  What did I want to do for them?  As they aren’t really planted yet, I didn’t think I had much to worry about.  Um, yeah.  Apparently something is really loving to dig among my new strawberry transplants.  The rest of the bed is covered in wood chips and sawdust, so I was wondering if the unobstructed access to soft earth is what was attracting them to the exact spots I planted.  Whatever was digging also like the bed where the wood chips were pulled back from the plants versus the bed where the sawdust had blown around the plants.  I was contemplating this yesterday but wasn’t sure what to do.  I walked away, hoping time doing something else would help me find a solution.  It did.

While walking back to the house I passed my rosebushes and noted that there was at least one cane that was dead and needed to be cut.  That was my light bulb moment.  I had noticed near the bird bath and bird feeder that if I threw bread crumbs among the rose bushes the birds would get them, but the squirrels would not go in there.  My hope was that this will carry over to the strawberry bed.  

strawberry plants newly planted in raised garden beds

I grabbed my pruners and set about cutting that cane, as well as a few more on another bush that I knew would grow into the yard and get cut during the summer.  Being careful not to stab myself on the thorns, I gathered up all the canes and went back to my strawberry bed.  The cut canes were laid along the rows of strawberry plants.  Since I’m not sure if the digger was a neighborhood cat (though no ‘evidence’ was found), a squirrel or another animal this should deter all of them.  No one likes to dig among thorn bushes.  That is,  unless you are a mouse, but this also didn’t look like a mouse.  Whatever was doing this was doing it to dig.  The strawberry plants were not harmed in any way, except for being disturbed and pushed out of the way.

As we are having thunderstorms at the moment, I do not have an updated picture to show you.  You’ll just have to imagine straight, green and gray canes laying along the black circles where a strawberry plant had been placed.

I’m still left trying to figure out a more permanent option to keep out the squirrels (and rabbits) from all my raised garden beds.  I could always do the method I used to do, but I’m not so sure that is the best method.  I will also need to be able to put bird netting over the strawberries (I think) once they start producing (hopefully) this summer.

Have you found anything that works great for you?  Is it something you learned about from elsewhere or did it just come to you?

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