A reader called to say that squirrels had eaten her tomatoes last year when the fruits were about the size of golf balls. She wondered if there was anything she could do this year. Charlie Lee, Extension wildlife specialist at K-State, gives some options:
▪ Reduce bird feeders, which may keep the number of squirrels in an area artificially high.
▪ Treat with a repellent. The only repellents that are labeled for squirrels are ones that would be used around the plants, not on them, to deter squirrels by their scent.
▪ Use electrified netting where allowed by city code.
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▪ Trap the squirrels, to either move or euthanize them.
Reports of armadillo damage also continue to increase, Lee said, and similar deterrents can be used with them.
Rabbits are a problem for many gardeners, though they generally leave potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, and some peppers alone, Ward Upham of K-State writes in the Horticulture 2016 newsletter.
To protect other edibles from the nibblers, short fencing works well, he says. It should be at least 2 feet tall and of a type that has mesh openings of 1 inch or less so baby rabbits can’t get through it. Electric fence posts provide good support, Upham says.
If you don’t like the fence look, other options include repellents (read the label for the types of plants they can be used on, and reapply after rain) and a motion-activated sprinkler, Upham says.