Questions on: Squirrels
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q: I read the letter in Hortiscope today about squirrels, bulbs and thievery. My husband and I have planted thousands of bulbs in the last four years and have lost very few, if any, to squirrels.
What we do is drill the hole with a bulb auger attached to a drill, drop in the bulb (pointy side up) and then sprinkle in a mixture of half granulated garlic and half cayenne pepper. Water well, if necessary. If there has been past squirrel invasions, sprinkle the garlic and cayenne mixture over the planted area. Use granulated garlic so it doesn't cake or create a dust storm. I'm assuming this works because the garlic masks the scent of the bulb. If the squirrels remain curious, the red pepper gets them. (Fargo, N.D.)
A: Your note will go in the column and should be of help to those suffering from squirrel thievery. Thanks a million!
Q: My wife was told that aluminum sulfate repels squirrels from taking bulbs. Is there any truth to this story? (e-mail reference)
A: I have never heard of that working and neither have any of my references, so I cannot recommend aluminum sulfate for that purpose. Aluminum sulfate is an excellent soil acidifying agent if plants, such as azaleas, need a low pH to be vigorous and productive. Predatory urine, which is available at most hunting stores, will keep squirrels away. The recommendation usually is to use fox or coyote urine.
Q: Even though I'm not
from North Dakota, your Web site came up when I searched for answers on
fertilizing strawberries. I read through the page and appreciate the
information. One of the questions I often saw dealt with squirrels, deer and
other furry invaders. I offer this solution, which seems to work well for me. I
purchased a couple of pounds of ground cayenne peppers. I took an empty jar, put
the cayenne in and then drilled 1/8-inch holes in the lid. I then sprinkled this
liberally around the perimeter of my strawberry beds, fruit trees and sunflower
plantings. This ended the furry pilfering. I reapply after a heavy rain. I also
mixed 1/2 cup of cayenne powder and an equal amount of Vaseline. I spread a thin
layer of the mixture on the top rail of my chain link fence. It works like a
charm. The squirrels are still around, but leave my garden alone.
Hope this helps some of your readers. (Vancouver, Wash.)
A: Thanks for the tip! We have plenty of furry friends who think they should help themselves to whatever we grow in our gardens.
Q: What is the best way to prep for sod? When is the best time to put it down? We also have a lot of monster squirrels that have been digging in the yard. Any suggestions on how to stop them from digging up the new sod? (Minneapolis, Minn.)
A: Prep for sodding exactly the same way you would for seeding, except that you use sod instead of seed. Now is the perfect time to get it installed. As for the squirrels, good luck. I would try live trapping them and moving them somewhere else, such as miles away in a natural, but not landscaped environment. They won't like being trapped, but don't allow their anger to intimidate you. Be sure to wear thick gloves when handling the cages.
Q: Squirrels are eating my flower plants. How do I stop them? (e-mail reference)
A: You are not alone! Use pepper spray or spray with Hinder, Ropel or Liquid Fence. Several other products are on the market, but these are the most common.
Q: Our healthy and vigorous little leaf linden is being attacked by squirrels. The squirrels are peeling and stripping the bark. How do we deal with this problem? Will the squirrels permanently damage the tree? (e-mail reference)
A: Whatever possesses these little varmints to do this at certain times is beyond me. While such activity is not going to do the tree any good, I doubt it will kill the tree, but I wouldn't put up with it. If you can, purchase a product called Squirrel Control. It can be purchased on the Web at www.critter-repellent.com/squirrels/squirrels-in-my-trees.php. I cannot attest to the efficacy of this product, so the best course of action may be live trapping. Call your local Department of Natural Resources office and see if it has any traps you can rent or borrow. After trapping, move the squirrel to another location where it won't be as destructive.
Q: I remember seeing that in one of the national parks the mice were getting into the bird seed stores until the seeds were treated with a hot pepper wash. No more mice raids after that. I'm thinking this might be helpful for keeping squirrels out of bird feeders too. (Richardton, N.D.)
A: I have not heard that, but it might work. You'll have to come up with another idea if you see the birds spitting the seed out and running around with their beaks open looking for water.
Q: Can you save seed for the next year from kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, carrots, rutabagas and bushbeans? Will inbreeding be a problem? I also would like some information on how to keep squirrels out of my garden. (Berkley, Mich.)
A: I've only saved seeds from beans and carrots before, and it didn't seem to be worth the effort on the biennial plants. But, if you would still like to, here is the information I was able to find.
For bush beans, which are annuals, you must allow the pods to reach full maturity and dry up. You can harvest the seeds in early fall/late summer from the dried pods.
Carrots, which are biennials, take two growing seasons to get seeds. Store the carrots after the first season in a cool, dry place without their tops. Replant the root in the spring and it will send up a flowery stalk. This will set seed in late summer. Collect seed after it dries up.
Radishes, which are annuals, flower the same season, sending up a long flowering stalkbut I've never seen the seeds.
For turnips, kohlrabi and rutabagas, which are biennials, you must dig up roots after the first year and replant the second year. They will then send up a flowering stalk the second year.
Use Ro-pel to keep squirrels out. Ro-pel is used to keep rodents away. Spray on your plants once a year, but make sure not to spray it on any edibles! Other things to try include hot pepper spray and cheap men's colognes.
Good luck and thanks for writing!
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