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5 Ways to Protect Your Tomato Plants From Squirrels



Squirrels may be cute but they can cause a lot of damage! Discover five tips for protecting your tomato plants from squirrels today!
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Key Takeaways:
Use physical barriers like netting or cages to prevent squirrels from reaching your tomato plants and causing damage.

Repel squirrels with strong scents such as peppermint oil, garlic, apple cider vinegar, pet hair, hot peppers, or coffee grounds.

Scare off squirrels with noises, motion, and the presence of predators like fake owls or shiny objects. Companion plants like marigolds, garlic, and nasturtiums can also repel squirrels.

Squirrels may look cute, but they can be a real nuisance in your garden! As your tomatoes ripen, squirrels may invade turning your garden into their own personal food reserve. In the late summer and fall, they like to dig holes — often around the base of your plants — to store their nuts and seeds for the winter. This digging can devastate the roots of your tomato plants. Thankfully, there are several tried-and-true methods for discouraging these furry pests. Discover five tips to protect your tomato plants from squirrels today!
Create a Barrier
netted tomato plant

One of the easiest ways to protect your tomato plants from squirrels is to physically prevent them from getting to your plants using a barrier. You can use a barrier to stop them from getting to the fruit and digging around the plant’s roots. While it won’t stop them from visiting your plant, it will stop them from harming it.

Mulch around the base of the tomato plants can discourage squirrels from digging in the dirt and harming the plant’s roots.

Fabric — think bird netting — draped over the top of your tomato plant will stop squirrels from getting to the fruit or harming the plant.
Cages or wire mesh around your entire tomato plant will prevent squirrels from reaching the fruit and the plant.

Use Strong Scents
pepeprmint oil

A lot of animals and pests are deterred by powerful scents, and squirrels are no exception. They rely on their sense of smell to locate food, where their winter stashes are, as well as which nearby squirrels are members of their family. Because they have such an acute sense of smell, it can be overwhelming for them to smell strong or abrasive scents.

Peppermint oil: Mix a few drops of peppermint oilt with an ounce of water or vinegar inside a spray bottle to be used on the ground and stem of your tomato plants.

Garlic: Fresh garlic works best crushed or diced. Add the garlic to a bottle with equal parts vinegar and water. Let the mixture sit for several days, then use the spray.

Apple cider vinegar: Add to a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, allow it to sit for a few days, then spray your plants.

Pet hair: Collect some hair from your cat or dog the next time you give them a pet and sprinkle it around the base of your plant. Their powerful scent will trick the squirrels into thinking there’s a pet around. If you don’t have a pet, don’t worry, human hair can be just as effective!

Hot peppers: Chop or dice your hot peppers and allow them to sit for a few days in a spray bottle with an equal mix of water and vinegar before spraying the ground surrounding your tomato plants.

Coffee grounds: Sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil around your tomato plants, but be sure to only use this solution a few times before switching to a different one because coffee grounds can change the pH level of the soil!

Any squirrel-repellent solution that involves scent will fade over time and need to be reapplied. It’s best to spray and sprinkle fresh scents after every rainfall, since water can wash away the scents.

Avoid spraying the fruit of your tomato plant with any strongly scented repellent! You don’t want your fresh tomato to taste like hot peppers or vinegar.

Scare Them Off
Owl model visual deterrent

Squirrels are flighty creatures that get scared off easily by loud noises, dangerous animals, and motion. You can use this to your advantage when repelling squirrels from your garden. Try installing a fake owl or bird on a post near your tomatoes. It will look like a predator that squirrels don’t want to get close to, and it’ll leave your tomatoes alone. The same goes for other animals. If you have a dog, let them run around your garden once in a while. As long as you monitor them and make sure they aren’t harming your tomato plants, this is a good way to deter squirrels. Not only will nearby squirrels see your dog as a predator, but the scent they leave behind is a great deterrent as well.

For an animal-free option, try using shiny objects like aluminum foil or old spoons. Squirrels don’t like the sight of shiny objects, so they’ll stay away from them whenever they can. For even better chances of repelling squirrels, hang shiny objects up, such as a disco ball or old CD, so they move in the breeze and reflect sunlight.
Consider Feeding Them

If you can’t beat them, lure them away with a promise of easy food someplace else. This works well when combined with some of the other squirrel-repellent tactics. Make your tomato garden an undesirable area using one of repellant methods mentioned above. Then, offer them much easier sources of food such as acorns and nuts in an area that’s well away from your tomatoes! Chances are, the squirrels will opt for the easy food, leaving your tomatoes alone.

Choose a Companion

Companion planting is a great way to keep squirrels away from your tomato plants. It’s natural, doesn’t involve adding anything to the soil, and once you’ve planted your companion plant, you’ll have a season-long squirrel deterrent! Companion plants can also provide you with beautiful flowers, pleasant aromas, or even food or herbs to eat. Discover three of the best companion plants for tomatoes that help repel squirrels.

Tagetes Patula, Bright Orange Marigold Flower

These sunny flowers are a great companion plant for tomatoes because they attract beneficial insects like ladybugs that help pollinate your tomato plants. Their warm colors complement the red of ripe tomatoes and their strong scent discourages squirrels from hanging around your garden. Since marigolds need six to eight hours of sunlight a day, same as tomatoes, they make perfect companions.

Garlic tubers

Garlic repels squirrels because they don’t like its potent scent. Other tomato pests like aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites are also repelled by the smell of garlic. Garlic needs eight to 10 hours of sunlight a day, similar to the full sun needs of tomatoes. When grown together, garlic can enhance the flavor of your tomatoes, and when it comes time to harvest, you have two of the key ingredients needed to make a homegrown spaghetti sauce!

Orange Nasturtium

In shades of red, orange, and yellow, nasturtiums make a colorful addition to backyard gardens. They’re excellent at repelling pests like aphids and whiteflies, as well as discouraging squirrels from approaching your tomatoes. In addition to repelling pests, nasturtiums attract beneficial pollinators like hoverflies that can help pollinate your tomato blossoms.
Don’t Go Squirrely Over Squirrels!

Squirrels can be an annoying and damaging pest to have around your tomatoes. But, there are plenty of natural, simple methods you can use to repel them. With some careful companion planting, strategic scare tactics, and barriers, you can prevent squirrels from going near your tomatoes. You can also make simple sprays to repel them alongside the lure of easier food, far away from your plants.

Have you had problems with squirrels in the past? Which of these tips worked for you? Leave your response in the comments and don’t forget to share this article with all of your friends and family!

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