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Vermont Garden Journal: Controlling Chipmunks And Squirrels

Phil Armitage
This variety of chipmunk lives in and around Glacier National Park but looks similar to the critter which might be munching away at your garden. But with a few simple steps you can help control these pests.

Chip and Dale and the Alvin And The Chipmunks may be the warm, fuzzy versions of real life squirrel family pests but if you're a gardener, you know that chipmunks and squirrels can be a pain in the bulb. These rodents aren't picky and will eat tomatoes, roses, tulip bulbs, plums and many other plants.

Here's a basic Chipmunk And Squirrel Control 101:

  • Change the habitat to discourage them. Move wood, debris, and rock piles away from the garden where they love to hide.
  • Keep lawns and brushy areas mowed.
  • Plant trees away from buildings and other trees where squirrels can jump on to them and use baffles to stop them from climbing up the trunk.
  • Keep seeds that have fallen from bird feeders cleaned up regularly.
  • Rotate the use of repellents sprays on favorite plants so they don't get used to any one scent. Try sprays with active ingredients such as garlic, hot pepper, rotten eggs, castor oil and slaughterhouse waste.
  • Cover prized fruits and tomatoes with bags to stop thieving squirrels.

Preparing for and controlling the critters is the way to go; they may be pests but trapping and relocating the rodents is illegal.
And now for this week's tip: if you're growing a few grape vines for fresh eating, the best way to check if they are ripe is to taste them. Wait until the grapes are fully colored and taste test every few days. Once they are sweet, pick away.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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