Friday, July 25, 2008

Suburban Jungle Warfare

We have a small garden with a half dozen tomato plants and some basil, rosemary, and peppers. It's taken me two years to figure out just how to plant them, stake them, and prune them to keep them healthy. The first year, the garden was part of the back yard, so I had a steady stream of visitors to the garden, including rabbits, squirrels, birds, and children. Last year my dad built a fence, keeping out the children, and we placed a plastic mesh over the top to keep out the birds. We had to abandon the mesh because the plants grew up through the mesh, creating a mess. This year, I created an inner fence of chicken wire that keeps the rabbits out and placed a plastic owl that seems to keep the birds away, but I've yet to solve the squirrel problem. They ignore the owl, don't care about the chili powder I've dusted, and are undeterred by the deer-away I've sprayed.

I have to admit, I think I'm going a little insane. One problem with being a stay-at-home dad is I get to see what goes on in my garden during the day. This year we have a bumper crop of tomatoes but because of our wacky weather, they've yet to turn red. Often I'll walk by the kitchen window and see a squirrel perched on the fence, feasting on one of my tomatoes. I used to be a calm man. Not anymore. If I see something eating my vegetables, I stop whatever I'm doing and run out there like a madman, sprinting towards the varmint to scare him away. Megan thinks it's quite funny.

I recently asked my dad to bring over his pellet gun. Now if any readers out there think it's horrible to shoot little creatures (as I once did,) don't worry, the squirrels are perfectly safe with me looking down the scope. Plus, they have to be there at a time when the girls aren't there to see what I'm doing. I actually got a shot at one yesterday. He was sitting on the fence having lunch on my dime. I quietly stepped out the back door, aimed, and fired. He calmly looked over his shoulder as if to say, "I wonder what that was."

I ask you, would it be overkill to buy some sort of infrared motion detecting laser defense system for my garden? I know I could buy a lifetime of tomatoes from the store for what it would cost me, but that's not really the point, is it?

(I walked over and checked for squirrels at least ten times while writing this. I need to go get a job.)

9 comments:

Kathy G said...

I'm with you on the squirrels!

I had to plant my tomatoes in a pot on the deck this year (because of a wilt problem with last year's plot). I thought the proximity to the back door would deter the squirrels. Silly me!

I've taken to picking the fruits when they're not even red, but just one shade away from green. They taste just like a hothouse tomato, and I wonder WHY I went to all the effort of planting them.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh yes, the man vs. squirrel battle. I grew up watching this battle. Maybe I should give you my dad's phone number! Not wanting to kill the squirrels, (well, wanting to but not feeling like he should), he bought a squirrel trap. A smear of peanut butter is enough to attract a squirrel. Then, we'd drive them out in the country and let them go. Not sure how much good it actually did. I'm sure they found their way back to town but at least he felt like he was doing something! Good luck in your battle!
-Traci

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with Joel killing the squirrels. In fact, I suggested that we string up a few of them as a warning to any future feasters. Joel that this was a bit excessive.

Meg

Chad said...

http://www.safepetproducts.com/product.asp?specific=103

You might try this motion detection sprinkler. If it doesn't chase away the squirrels at least they will water your garden.

Dmitri said...

Isn't the answer obvious from your earlier posts? You must simply deploy stealthy ninja kid to take the squirrels out.

Michelle said...

You are too much (LOL)... fire away. If my boys were there, they would take their legos and shoot right along with you.

Joel Bittle said...

Brilliant suggestions!

If only I could control stealthy ninja kid ><

Anonymous said...

Joel
We have raccoons that visit often. They ate the baby birds out of the nest that was inches from my kitchen window. I'll trade you squirrels for raccoons!!!
Rosemary

Michelle said...

ha!!
Love the picture...and our tomatoes have yet to turn as well. UGH.
As for the squirrels, we have upgraded to an air-soft gun. When I say 'we' i mean dh and son. They don't his squat, but they like to think they are making a difference.

Good luck