Who Done It?

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Look who showed up looking for lunch while I was out on the roof taking photos yesterday afternoon. He had absolutely no fear whatsoever. I could have reached out and touched him. I yelled and stomped around and he just looked at me like I was holding out a bag of peanuts.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
He ain’t care. He is nothing if not the most laid back squirrel there ever was.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I’m so confused. Is he the one who’s been pulverizing my tomatoes? I thought it might be him because my neighbor mentioned seeing him a few times. But then the raccoons started coming around every night and I was sure the decimated bits of scattered tomato was their handiwork. They have a way with just ripping plants to shreds. But that’s the thing. The culprit has been ripping the tomatoes to shreds but the plants themselves have been left intact. Raccoons tend to take out everything in their path, fruit, plants, the lot. And this tomato stealer is a tricksy one. This guy or gal only goes for ripe tomatoes. Squirrels are never that discerning. They tend to just sample everything and leave what doesn’t suit them.

I’m starting to think that my next role as a gardener should be CSI: Garden. I need to spend the winter getting studied up on your scatology, and your bite mark identification. I need to put myself together one of those fancy C.S.I gadget cases, complete with crime scene markers, DNA kits, assorted envelopes, those cotton swabs tucked into plastic cases that close jobbies, and a vat of sticky lip venom puffing gloss. Or personal lip collagen injection kit.

Or maybe I just like a good mystery and I’m over thinking it. Maybe it doesn’t matter who’s eating the tomatoes. What matters is that they are eating most of each fruit they take rather then taking one bite and leaving the rest.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
And by the looks of things, I’d say they are enjoying it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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28 thoughts on “Who Done It?

  1. I can understand how annoying this would be. My chickens are destroying various parts of my garden right now, with annoys me to no end. But it’s also really funny to read about – this little sneaky squirrel feasting on your garden. What a stinker!

    Maybe that is why I get obsessed with solving the various mysteries at my house too? I love murder mysteries and CSI. It’s my own mini-version at home.

  2. what you need is a good hawk to terrify the rodents. our house is near the river and we have many a hawk searching the ground for prey. the squirrels and bunnies fear the overhead danger and are pretty scarce in the garden. but then we lack bunnies. sad.

  3. Maybe I overthink the squirrels as well. I swear they are laughing at my dog – who still tries to climb the trees – while they toss the acorns at us. -

    Did somebody say roof photos?

  4. I know exactly how you feel! My tomatoes are going through the exact same thing right now. But not the “ugly” ones that have split or bruised, etc. S/he only takes the “perfect” ones that I have been anxiously waiting to ripen. I’ll go out to pick it and it’ll be half eaten, still on the vine. So sad.

  5. My first thought – do you have a webcam?
    You have enough loyal visitors that I bet you could achieve 24 hour monitoring!
    (that squirrel is really cute)

  6. Melamalie: Good god no! I joke about it but the reality is that I don’t want my life on display on the internet 24-7. I’d be visible anytime I went into the garden. No thanks.

  7. When my friend was living in Mississauga she had a one eyed squirrel she called Pirate. He used to hang upside down from the eavestroph and scream at her.

    Apparently he was quite entertaining. Me, I just have a couple of paranoid chipmunks.

  8. Every year, Spring and Fall, the squirrels dig up my garden to plant nuts and other weird things like individually wrapped chocolate Easter eggs and jelly beans; someone must have left an Easter basket out. I’ve taken to covering my raised beds with chicken wire because they keep disturbing the seeds I just planted. The annoying part is that they NEVER COME BACK for what they dug up my garden to plant.

  9. What about spraying a weak mixture of cayenne, soap and water to help deter pretty much any size pest. Or would the soap be absorbed into the fruit? You could always try cayenne and water spray – the soap would mainly be to make the cayenne stay in place.

  10. Monique: I’m a little leery of the pepper spray. Some say the critters touch it and could rub some in their eyes… I’m just not willing to risk potentially hurting them that much to save my tomatoes.

  11. I think the bite mark identification book would seriously be a great idea! Especially if you included pictures of insect damage and the natural way to control each thing, eh?

  12. I have caught 5 squirrels in a havahart trap to date in my backyard city garden. I release them far away in the woods. I will continue catching them as much as I have to. They ate every single last one of my eggplants, and are doing the same to my tomatoes.
    I suggest you invest in the havahart trap.

  13. i love how the little guy is just lounging on the hand rail in the second picture, giving you that i-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-thin look. well, and of course, i feel your pain ;)

  14. I had a war with squirrels when I grew sunflowers. (They won.) This year, I’m not growing sunflowers, but my neighbours got cats, and result is the squirrels stay far away.

  15. awesome pictures of the cute thieves! i’m waging war on some hungry critters like most of us. even though they’re annoying, it’s fun to get that close to them!

  16. You know, I only remember seeing squirrels eat my tomatoes one year when we had a very bad drought and I think they were going after them for the water. Maybe you could try putting out a water dish for them (and the birds and whatever other critters may be thirsty) and see if that leads to diminished tomato damage?

  17. This morning I looked out my window to see a squirrel eating my sungold tomatoes. He would take one off the vine and sit quietly while eating it, then reach for another. I loudly “ahemed” through the screen and he eventually skulked off. Note: he definitely did not run, scamper, or flee, so I think he’ll be back. Can we post some recipes for sauteed squirrel with fresh basil?

  18. CSI Garden that is so funny and would make a great comedy/mystery for gardeners. Love your attitude. No doubt you have a discerning racoon who knows how to pick em. These animals are a testiment to your great gardening skills – you’ve created a habitat in the city.

  19. I completely sympathize my tomatoes have been nibbled on and disappearing for weeks, I managed to find the culprit a family of mice. I am testing the theory of using mint to repel them. We shall see.

  20. Ciao Gayla-

    You’ve seen our garden so you know how much potentially yummy squirrel and raccoon food I grow. I have 2 bird feeders and both critters seem to prefer that food over my garden. I have yet to see the kind of pilferage that you’ve shown here and I’ve heard sad tales from other gardeners as well. I’m not sure if that’s the definitive reason, I also have a lot of other seed-producing plants and tons of fruit trees that keep them happy. I’m sorry if he’s the one ravaging your produce, but as a few other posters have said, he’s quite adorable. I’d forgive him.

  21. Does that squirrel know the gackels and rabbits in my yard. The gackels (aside from sitting on my mums and making them their “nests”) are very forward. They land and stalk me when I am planting seeds. They get close enough that they will stand next to me when I am putting seed down and eat it as I go. Needless to say, seeds are now started in flats inside. Then only after they are large enough to be unappetizing the rabbit families that call my yard home, (they eat anything that sprouts….wish they’d do that to the crab grass), do the plants make it outside; and that only happens if everyone is mindful enough to remember to close doors so the cats don’t eat plants on the inside. (I lost many, many sunflowers that way last year, which by the way sunflower sprouts are super yummy.)

  22. I had some critters rummaging through my garden, but it changed when I started leaving them a little bowl of peanuts on the other side of the yard.

  23. Raccoons love moisture in their food…could be that they eat the juicy moist parts of your tomates and leave the stems and skins behind?! Personally I love squirrels and find them great entertainment… they actually planted one of my favourite trees in my garden…it is a crabapple and it had to have come from them… they look like the Flying Walendas up there in the fruit..they also like the grape arbour..and since I’m not relying on the garden for food I’m not too worried if they take it…I plant for the animals and birds…I always have plenty of sunflowers in my garden from squirrel caches and bird leavings…my one disappointment is that I can never get that close to the squirrels because my 80 lb. lapdog likes to chase them..she ushers them to the fence and then reports back to tell me of her exploits…
    I understand that it’s frustrating to lose produce that you have taken the trouble to grow… My dad had a wonderful way with that …he would say: plant one for the early/late frost, one for the animals, one for the insects and one for us…so every fourth seed was for us!!

  24. Gayla, it’s posts like these that have kept me reading your blog for years :)

    Your photography and word play skills never fail to disappoint.

    He’s probably not running away because his tummy is too full from all the stolen food. That look is actually saying “Please lady, next year, plant Tums!” ;)

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