I wanted to share the results of a recent experiment in my garden… My precious home-grown tomatoes, which I look forward to all year, are finally ripening faster than I can use them. That’s the good news. The neighborhood squirrels are doing their part to help me eat them. That’s the bad news.
We have a LOT of squirrels in our area and every year they help themselves to fresh vegetables in my garden. I’ve found half-eaten tomatoes in my yard, on the ground and even tomatoes still on the vine with teeth-marks in them. I’ve tried a variety of homemade recipes but none worked very well. I have had success this year with a commercial repellent called Deer-Off from Havahart. Take a look at my article about squirrel repellents for more information… Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Squirrels
Back to my experiment… This year, when shopping for vegetable seedlings at a local nursery, I decided to buy a four-pack of habanero pepper plants. My husband loves hot peppers and always complains that the peppers I grow aren’t that hot. I’ve grown jalapenos, hot cherry peppers and others but never habaneros. They are several hundred times hotter on the pepper heat scale than any other peppers I’ve every grown and rank up in the top 3 hottest peppers in the world.
Well, the first odd little orange habanero ripened the other day, followed by a half dozen others a few days later. My husband tried one and he agreed I finally succeeded in growing something hotter than he can tolerate. We’ll use them in moderation in recipes but even though I only bought four little seedlings in the spring, they are loaded with over a hundred little habaneros that will quickly ripen in the coming weeks.
To make use of them, I decided to mix up a little “solution” to protect my ripening tomatoes while we were away for a few days. I took five peppers, ground them up in an electric chopper and soaked the mushy mixture overnight in a cup of water.
The next morning, I strained the pulp put of the liquid (and sprinkled that on the ground around the base of the tomato plants !). I poured the strained liquid into a quart spray bottle and topped it off with more water.
I then began spraying the mixture in, around and on the tomato plants and fruit. In the process, I began sneezing, coughing and my eyes were watering terribly..obviously a potent mixture that was sure to keep the squirrels away. The mixture also had an oily appearance to it and I hoped it would do better resisting rain and watering than a normal water-based repellent. I used the entire quart on all 20 plants which take up about 100 square feet of garden.
After several days away, we returned home to plenty of ripe tomatoes on the vine and NO evidence of any squirrels even near the garden…and there were plenty of ripe habaneros for my next batch of spray.
I’m hoping I finally came upon a solution to my squirrel problem. If you also have had or are having problems with squirrels (or deer or rabbits), I encourage you to try the mixture. Habaneros are usually available in your grocery store or local farmer’s market if you didn’t grow them this year in your garden…but be sure to put a few plants in next year so you have your own supply to keep the squirrels away.
My only other tip is to be sure to wear gloves when cutting the habaneros and if possible, wear glasses or goggles, gloves and a mask when applying the solution to your garden. For more information about other squirrel, deer and rabbit repellent strategies, visit my articles on the subject…
Happy Gardening ! …