Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Squirrels Attack!

My damaged kale plant

Dear Readers, I had an unfortunate setback in my garden over this past weekend.  What I believe to be at least one squirrel climbed over my garden fence and completely decimated my three broccoli plants, as well as damaging one of my kale plants (which hopefully will recover).   The suspected squirrel was not found at the scene, but neighborhood birds have been pulled aside for questioning...

I had first noticed that two of the three broccoli plants were destroyed from something, but thought, “Okay, I can recover from this.”  Then, just a little bit later, I noticed that the third broccoli plant was now toast, and the kale plant had also been damaged.  To make matters worse, I had to immediately leave home for a few hours and could do absolutely nothing about it!  Man, that was a blow to my psyche of resilience…  I mentally spent most of that morning anxious about what other plants in my garden might be destroyed by the time I returned home.  Not a good feeling.

If you read my post last week, you already know that I have vowed to be honest about many of the ups and downs of gardening that I experience so that you can learn from my experiences as I learn through them.  Despite some of the frustrations that can go with gardening, I still believe that any work that we put into the process of gardening is more than worth it, especially when we are getting such nutrient-dense homegrown food that we know exactly how it was grown.

This example of my own squirrel attack incident gave me pause and an opportunity to reflect on my whole “working with nature” gardening viewpoint.  The conventional viewpoint is generally to think, “How can I control this situation?” or “How can I help that darned squirrel to meet its Maker?”  Many of the ecological gardening folks say that some of these incidents are likely inevitable, and that we should plant extra plants since the critters are going to eat some anyway.  While this is very admirable, some of us just don’t have the luxury of lots of planting space, so we are left with a limited sized harvest to begin with, and unfortunately, this can mean in my case that I won’t have any broccoli this year unless I go to a garden store and buy some transplants to replace them.

The conclusion that I came to through this experience was can we really expect nature to always be kind, full of rainbows, and roses and sunshine?  When we decide that we are going to work with nature in our gardens, homesteads, farms, and whatever else we are doing, we must inevitably accept the fact that there will be setbacks, and of course, they will likely not be much fun.  Sometimes, they will be downright frustrating, and you may even have moments when you’d love to make your backyard squirrel residents into squirrel stew (my apologies to all of the vegetarians and vegans out there :)  )… 

The truth is, though, squirrels are just trying to do what all of us are trying to do, survive.  Animals are just trying to make a living just like the rest of us on this planet.  We need to decide that the importance of our overall connectedness to nature and to where our food comes from is much more important than trying to control everything around us.  I believe that such a switch in mindset is especially important during this time of tumultuous social and economic change, as well as with many the ecological crises that we find our planet in today. 

For our own resiliency, humanity must learn how to effectively work with nature despite some of the setbacks.  Perhaps our “setbacks” are simply our views of the fact that we cannot control everything, no matter how hard we try.  The fact of the matter is simple: We will never control everything, nor should we even try.  We can simply learn to be resilient and respect nature for what it is.  I am not saying that we should just “roll over and die” and provide our gardens with no defense at all, just that we need to keep in mind that we can only control so much and that we should try to work with nature as best we can.

In the end, I did buy some squirrel deterrent that is supposed to be more environmentally friendly.  It works by irritating the squirrel’s senses of smell and taste though ingredients like black pepper.  It is also OMRI listed for use in organic gardens, although the directions say to keep the deterrent away from the plants themselves.  I sprinkled it along the outside perimeter fencing around all of my vegetable garden areas and my herb spiral and will keep an eye on the garden to see how effective it is.  I also added an additional post where my garden fence was sagging and it was providing easier access for the squirrels to get in.

I did have a “good nature” moment in amongst all of this fiasco with the squirrel.  That very same morning of the squirrel attack on my garden, I saw a Monarch butterfly hanging out on one of the Milkweed plants near my garage.  I was happy that I had my camera with me so that I could share my picture of this beautiful creature with you.  This was a great reminder to me that the world had indeed not come to an end, and life will still go on.   It is very important to remember that when things sometimes go wrong.  

The Monarch butterfly that was visiting the Milkweed plant next to my garage.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?

My (former) broccoli plant.

The squirrel deterrent that I sprinkled around my garden areas.  I do not represent this product or company, but just wanted to show an example of the types of such products that exist.
This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Hop


  1. I may look into that! I feel like I'm at war! I can't even plant flowers, jeez!
    Visiting from Urban Naturale
    Peace, Sara

    1. Certainly worth a shot, Sara. Animals can be tricky!

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I grew up with a large backyard garden where we fought the good fight against squirrel, birds, insects, worms(and a few humans too) to achieve a successful harvest. I am so glad you pointed out the we must coexist with animals since the too must survive and I am delighted that you found and shared a natural deterrent against the squirrels with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop! I appreciate it!