keeping squirrels off tomatoes

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by sindhooram, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. sindhooram

    sindhooram Junior Member

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    Hi - alot of my tomatoes are getting eaten by squirrels while still green.
    i dont mind sharing a little with them but its getting a bit much and they also dont seem to really eat it but rather just take little nibbles. We dont have huge amounts of tomatoes.
    I wonder if anyone has found a non violent solution that works for this problem?
    We have put some netting over them but once I think they got under and in - the plants are on the roof so it's hard to make it fully secure. Also I worry that when it gets hotter the netting might make the plants too hot.
    my husband tied foil and plastic bags to the sticks and branches as in the beginning we thought it was birds but that hasn't helped. I've heard of some urine kind of sprays but nothing is available locally.Also putting dog hair on the pot but we dont have a dog.
     
  2. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    In Brisbane they have a lot of trouble with possums in gardens. I read the other day that its actually water the possums are after and not the fruit. The person put out pots of water and this apparently deterred the creatures from eating the fruit. Maybe its worth a try where you are. It sounds too good to be true but its worth checking out perhaps.
     
  3. permup

    permup Junior Member

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    Yes, that's what I would have suggested Sunburn. It sounds to me like the little critters are thirsty. If that fails, you could try exclusion bags. While they don't always work for possums, because they are just too strong and persistent, they might work for a squirrels, but not sure. This is what they are: https://www.greenharvest.com.au/pestcontrol/exclusion_prod.html not sure if you can get any where you are (I'm presuming America but don't know). Good luck.
     
  4. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    It must have been you who wrote what i read permup lol.
     
  5. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Can you eat them?
     
  6. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    I was watching The Wild Gourmets on TV today they made a lovely Peking duck type dish out of Grey Squirrel
    Everyone loved it ,people in a village pub who had never eaten squirrel before..
     
  7. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I used to have all these romantic visions of rural India before I met you Sind. I don't think I ever quite got over the thought that elephants were a risk to the garden. Now squirrels as well! Makes the wildlife at my place look decidedly dull in comparison!
     
  8. sindhooram

    sindhooram Junior Member

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    Hi - after I made this post I was wondering if there are Squirrels in Australia or if you only get marsupial types of things like possums bothering the garden?
    The squirrels are cute with stripes on their head so as soon as I see them I lose some of my irritation over the tomato theft....I dont think we can get those exclusion bags here although they sound good.
    I will put out a plate of water for them - maybe with some peanuts or something but I just hope that wont attract more of them here. I am thinking to construct some kind of cage to grow the tomatoes but that wont be until next year. It would be nice to harvest sun ripened ones - I pick them now at the first sign they are reddening.
    They eat about 50% of our passion fruits as well.
     
  9. permup

    permup Junior Member

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    No, there are no squirrels in Australia. Thats why I determined you were in America. That site with the exclusion bags would probably send to America. I have spent many long nights deliberating cages for tomatoes, as we suffer fruit fly here in Sydney. The trouble with any cage that will keep a fruit fly out, will also keep bees and other polinutors out, meaning I'd get no tomatoes. The other problem is that the cage has to be really easy to acces, in order to pick out suckers and tie to stakes. I remain with exclusion bags, and the fruit ripens beautifully. Let us know if you come up with something in the genius category won't you?
     
  10. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    The op is from India.

    Here is a picture of the squirrels. https://www.photoblog.com/ShangriLa/2007/11/16/

    Is there anything special about those exclusion bags? Are they made out of paper, plastic, nylon fabric, cotton. Wouldn't it be easier/cheaper to make something yourself.

    permup what do the italians do about the fruit fly?
     
  11. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I thought tomato flowers were self fertile?
     
  12. permup

    permup Junior Member

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    I've bought several types of exclusion bags from them and have made some of my own too (they are not rocket science, just painful). They need to breeth, so plastic is no good. I've got a heap of calico ones and they wash up well. You could use netting, but the trouble with that is, if the fruit is resting against the netting, then the fly can lay the egg from the outside of the netting. I tried a lining type material that was synthetic but has small holes. It didn't work so well, but mainly because it tore easily. The design is just a rectangle bag with a draw-string in the top of it, so its not complicated, just fiddly. I didn't find it cheaper to make them myself.

    Ah the Italians! I have studied their gardening practices around here a lot. They must have adopted the artificial fertiliser and pest control a while ago, and have not let go. No mulch either. About the only thing they use by way of exclusion is netting on their fig trees to stop the birds. I use the exclusion bags on my figs too and it works a treat.

    Just a tip, if you do decide to use the bags, you don't need to open them to see if your fruit is ripe. Just give a quick little squeeze through the bag, and when they are ripe or close to ripe they will be soft rather than hard. Seems basic I know, but it took me three years to figure it out, and my bad back wasn't quite as thrilled.

    I have been tempted to use derris dust more recently, and my neighbour and Dad have used it this year in desperation, but so far I've held out.
     
  13. permup

    permup Junior Member

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    Just read your post Eco. I didn't realise that! Oh well if that's the case, then I have the tomato cage invention of a lifetime and its time to have a prototype made. Can anyone else confirm this?
     
  14. SueUSA

    SueUSA Junior Member

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    Paula, YES, tomatoes are self-fertile. For just a few plants, the thing to do is just tap the flower clusters with your finger every day or so. Below are some excerpts from an article on greenhouse tomato production by the University of Florida. I have edited out all the references to large-quantity production, if it ready choppy.


    Tomatoes are self-pollinated; pollen from a flower pollinates the same flower. To accomplish pollination, pollen must be loosened from the anthers and dusted onto the stigma. Outdoors, wind assists in pollen dehiscence, but in the greenhouse, the flowers must be vibrated. Without vibration, poor fruit set, shape, and size could result.

    Pollination is achieved by vibrating the flower cluster for a second or two. Some beginning growers use back massagers, electric toothbrushes, etc. Another method that seems to work well is a handheld electric leaf blower. This is one of the quickest means to effect pollination. Since it is quick, growers are more likely to use it daily.

    Pollination should be done at least every second day. Vibrating is not effective on cloudy days because the humidity prevents pollen dehiscence even with vibration. However, it might be a good idea to pollinate every sunny day in the winter. This will avoid missing several days on end if the "skip-day" is sunny, but the next pollination day is cloudy. Therefore, every-day pollinating lessens the problems caused by cloudy days.

    Pollination should be done during the daylight hours of 10 AM and 3 PM. Greenhouse humidity is lower at this time so that pollen dehiscence is highest. In addition, fruit size seems to be maximized by pollination during these hours. This is probably related to the increased amount of pollen available during these hours. When pollinating a cluster, it is important to be careful not to touch developing fruits since the slightest scrape can result in a serious fruit scar as the fruit enlarges.

    For small-size tomato producers, an effective pollination method is the air-blast sprayer or leaf blower. These blowers can be directed at the flower clusters to vibrate them and loosen the pollen. The blower system is very fast and appears to be as effective as individual flower vibration.
     
  15. sindhooram

    sindhooram Junior Member

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    my understanding is that tomatoes can pollinate with the aid of the wind but also bees can help with the process(I might be wrong about that though) . I think you only need to tap them if they're in green houses or there is very little wind??
    I do think the exclusion bags seem like a good idea so I may invest in some at some point. We can cut up mosquito netting and tie them on bunches and it does help but its a bit time consuming and they have got through occasionaly which is why I was wondering if there were any other types of detterents. Fruit flies aren't really a problem here with tomatoes - they seem to like eggplants here.
    Sunburn yes you got the right photo of the squirrel!! Eco4560 you are right that India has quite a lot of difficulties to overcome with agriculture - I am just grateful that we don't have monkeys in our area!!! I dont think I could deal with them....
     
  16. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    I"ve seen monkey's in a wheat field!! Yes i totally know what you are saying. I believe its why so many indians don't grow fruit trees which is such a pity. And which makes me think, don't they like mangos?

    Sind do you think there would be a way to get more fruit trees growing in india. I mean for poor people. A way to distribute viabe seed/plants and giving them a bit of instruction how to grow it for themselves? Do you think this could be a good thing to do? If so, i might suggest it to some agency. Or maybe its just a bit of wishful thinking.
     
  17. sindhooram

    sindhooram Junior Member

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    squirrels got to the tomatoes again either early morning or yesterday while we were out in the evening - they went for really underipe ones that we thought too young to need to protect...

    Having more land with fruit trees growing for poor people is a lovely idea - fruit is pretty expensive here relative to income ....where I livemost people aren't that interested in growing things even though they have space for some veggies and seeds are really cheap....they show a lot of interest in our garden and solar oven but dont seem to find motivation to do it themselves....partly people say that they are too busy - I think its true to some extent that men often work long hours and women have much more labour intenstive house work but I think there would be time for simple things....so not really sure how to go about it but so far I havent yet tried anything because I feel first I need to get my self growing things much better and have more knowledge about what works well and dealing with local climate, pests etc...
    There is also a massive problem here with thousands of farmers each year commiting suicide because of all the difficulties - huge debts, difficult conditions etc. - something really needs to be done about that but I'm not sure what either...I have recently made friends with an organic farmer not too far from here so next time I visit I'll discuss the matter more...
     
  18. sindhooram

    sindhooram Junior Member

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    well I stitched (or my husbands cousin stitched) several cloth bags which we tied over the tomatoes.....everything seemed to be going well until last night when the squirrel (or maybe other animal I dont know ) bit and tore a few bags and pulled them off the plants stealing whole tomatoes....
    My husband is now suggesting tieing bells to the plants to frighten them !!!!
     
  19. INNOVERTS

    INNOVERTS Junior Member

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    Squirrels hate taste of hot pepper try and see whether it will work.
     

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