It all started early last week when we saw a squirrel sitting on the back porch, tomato in hand, munching away without a care in the world. Two feet away from me. Granted, I was behind the glass door, but still! The nerve! First, we tried putting up more bird seed to see if we could distract the squirrels away from my precious plants. Fail.
I tried wrapping the plant in bird netting, thinking that I had for sure protected my little tomatoes. Turns out, squirrels can pull tomatoes from the plant and simply eat the tomato around the netting.
Then, I went to Home Depot. I came up with the idea of building a structure out of PVC pipe and then wrapping it in chicken wire. The result?
Epic fail. The PVC was way less sturdy than I thought, especially because I couldn't find the right elbows and duck tape really let me down. To add insult to injury, last week was hotter than hell. Seriously. 95 degrees at 8:00 AM.
After giving up on the PVC pipe, I decided to try making a cage of just chicken wire. After being outside for two hours, I managed to have a cylinder all the way around the tomato plant. But I was also about to pass out from the heat and I simply couldn't take it one more second. So I threw the netting over the top, tied it down and went inside for a much-needed shower....
Only to come downstairs and see a squirrel stuck inside the chicken wire. I went outside and made noise until it managed to find its way out again. Now I don't know if it was the over-exposure to the heat, or what, but I didn't handle this disappointment well. There may have been some temper tantrums. And dramatic throwing of oneself onto the couch. Fiance did well not to laugh.
The next day, I trudged back out to the garden (in 95 degree heat. AGAIN) and moved the pot. We discovered the squirrels were using the fence as their own personal bridge and thought moving the pot to the middle of the patio made more sense. Then I cut more chicken wire and secured it over the top. My result...
Thoroughly hideous, but also effective. I've seen the squirrels crawling on it a few times. Each time I went out and yelled at them. Seemed to do the trick. They haven't made any appearances in the last few days and my tomatoes are finally ripening now that they are left in peace.
But I've come to the conclusion that maybe tomatoes aren't going to be grown here next year. Before the squirrels started their reign of terror, I was having trouble with blossom end rot to begin with. So next year, I will still have tons of herb pots, but I think I want to make a raised bed like this one against the fence.
As part of the building process, I'm going to attach wooden posts and secure chicken wire to the posts. That way, I will have a proper, sturdy structure that will protect future plant endeavors. I'm thinking maybe some sweet peppers, squash, as well as the spicy peppers that are growing like gang busters. Perhaps most importantly, I'm going to undertake this project in the spring. Before the heat is in full force. Heat stroke and I don't get along.