Squirrels will definitely chow down on tomato plants if they are given the chance. It can truly be frustrating going to your garden only to discover that your tomatoes are ruined after all of your hard work. However, all is not lost. There are several ways to tell if it is, in fact, squirrels that are wrecking havoc on your garden, like searching for holes and leaf damage. You can then protect your garden with cages or repellant sprays and take preventative measures to keep your crops safe in the future.
Do Squirrels Eat Tomato Plants?
Squirrels most certainly do eat tomato plants. It can truly be frustrating going to your garden only to discover that your tomatoes are ruined after all of your hard work. After going through an experience such as this, it’s natural to think about solutions to the issue. This article not only helps you assess whether or not squirrels are the true reason behind your ruined tomato plants, but also helps you devise solutions to protect said plants from further harm.
Are Squirrels Eating my Tomatoes?
There are a variety of different ways to tell if it is a squirrel that has been eating away at your tomato plants. While some signs require more vigilance than others, all of them will help you to determine if you’re dealing with a squirrel or something else entirely.
A surefire way to tell if a squirrel has been munching away at your garden is to see if there are medium to large sized holes in one side of your tomatoes. While squirrels have been known to eat whole tomatoes during their feeding spree, they will often choose to take medium to large sized bites out of a variety of tomatoes.
Time of Day
Squirrels are not nocturnal creatures by nature, so they will often be active throughout the day as opposed to the night. If you tend to notice that the bites being taken from your tomato plants occur more frequently during the later part of the day and throughout the night, another animal is most likely the perpetrator.
A big indicator to pay attention to when determining whether or not squirrels are eating your tomato plants is whether or not both the tomatoes, and the leaves, have damage to them. If both the tomato and its accompanying leaves have holes in them, the culprit is most likely a form of insect and not a squirrel.
Protecting my Tomato Plants from Squirrels
Once you’ve established the cause of your ruined tomato plants, a solution is necessary to protect your garden, and your tomatoes, from further harm. There are a variety of different approaches a garden owner can take to prevent their tomato plants from becoming squirrel food such as cages, repellant sprays, pets, and even trivial scare tactics.
Oftentimes, building a cage made of a material such as chicken wire fencing or hardware cloth is one of the best methods to protect your tomato plants from further damage. While it is entirely optional whether to protect an individual tomato plant or the entire garden, it is necessary to include a roof for your cages. Squirrels have often been known to jump from large heights to circumnavigate fencing, so a roof will help protect from this troublesome issue.
Using a commercial, or homemade, repellant spray can help deter squirrels from eating your tomato plants. While a commercial spray needs to be applied around the plants to deter squirrels, a homemade spray made with ingredients such as peppers may be applied directly to the tomatoes. Whether commercial or homemade, these sprays further deter squirrels from making your tomatoes a tasty meal.
Having outdoor pets such as a cat or a dog are a tremendous deterrent to squirrels eating your tomato plants. With these sorts of domesticated pets often found naturally chasing squirrels, it may benefit you in the long-run to let your animal roam near your tomatoes. Just remember that your tomato plants may also need protection from your pets!
More often than not, frightening a squirrel with a simple scare tactic will deter them from coming anywhere near your tomato plants. A simple noise making device such as a wind chime or a piece of metallic tape placed on a stake will oftentimes be enough to scare a squirrel away from your garden and keep your tomato plants safe.
Alternative Ways to Protect Tomato Plants from Squirrels
While there are many tactics to deter pesky squirrels from eating your tomato plants, some methods tend to apply a more natural approach. Methods such as an open source of water, covering bare soil, and picking your tomatoes provide a more squirrel-friendly approach to keep them at bay and your tomato plants out of harm’s way.
Open Sources of Water
Squirrels are often attracted to tomatoes because not only are they a source of food for a hungry squirrel, they are a source of water due to their high water content. Gardeners have found some success in placing an open-body of water such as a birdbath on the opposite side of the yard from their garden. This will help to draw the thirsty squirrels away from your tomato plants and keep them safe while giving your yard a decorative new feature.
Cover Bare Soil
Squirrels have a tendency to seek out bare soil when searching for food. They often look for nuts and seeds when happening upon barren soil, even burying leftovers in the soil for later. Covering any of the bare soil around your tomato plants with either additional foliage in your garden, or mulch, will help make your garden a less desirable food destination for squirrels.
Pick the Tomatoes
When all other options have failed and you’re the only line of defense standing between you and a squirrel, the best option may be to pick your tomatoes early. By not picking the tomato, but cutting it off somewhere down the vine, the tomato can continue to grow and ripen in your home since nutrients are still being supplied by the vine.
Protecting your tomato plants from squirrels can be a difficult dilemma. Remember that one method may not work for your pesky, neighborhood squirrel and may require a trial-and-error approach to perfect your line of defense and protect your tomato plants from further damage. In a short amount of time, you will find the method that works best for you and be able to enjoy your unharmed tomato plants in no time!