This cheeky fellow was standing on the corner early one morning, watching me through the window. Not a blink. I ate a bowl of oatmeal while he stared at me. He was issuing the spring challenge for the squirrel tribe that races through, around and over our garden. Go ahead, he taunted. Plant those cute little flower starts. See how long they last before we uproot them, chew them up and spit them out. Bring it on baby! He seemed to swagger as he broke his stance and scampered up the tree behind him.
A few days later, this fence went up in the backyard. We put it up to keep children and pets in the yard and to block the view from the cul de sac behind us and the street beyond that. The squirrels, of course, saw it as a highway installed just for them. All day long they scampered back and forth at high speeds, delicately balancing on the top of the fence. Somehow they managed to avoid collisions. Apparently there is an unseen traffic control that directs them to only travel to the west, then change and everyone can only travel east. Several brave jumpers tried to go from the fence to the top of the tomato supports or vice versa. A few splats on the ground showed the folly of that detour and they resumed running back and forth.
I began to plant flowers around the yard — in the ground, in pots, in three baskets hung on the new fence. Squirrel and buddies fulfilled his threat. In the morning, half the contents of every pot would be uprooted. On the ground, every other plant was lifted out and dragged a few feet away. Then they would return and bite the remaining plants off at the base.
By the time I got ready to plant the baskets on the fence, I was done with this nonsense! I planted the baskets and shredded old cocoa mats (like the liner) to put across the top. Then I went to the kitchen and got my secret weapon!
Squirrels do not like the taste or smell of cayenne pepper. Or red pepper flakes from the dollar store. Sprinkle them generously around the small flower starts and the squirrels will leave them alone. You may have to renew after rain, but you’ll only need to do it for a couple of weeks. Once the flowers are a taller and fuller like the picture above, the squirrels leave them alone. It was actually funny to watch the squirrels go tearing across the fence, stop when they were about six inches from the planter and then drop down to the horizontal support on the other side. They would run on the horizontal until they were about six inches on the OTHER side of the planter, hop back on the fence and repeat the process for the remaining two planters. They never touched the planters or anything in them!
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