Best way to keep squirrels out of strawberries?

2ajsmamaApril 28, 2014

Last year was the first year for fruit, planted in 2012. I put 9 gauge wire hoops every couple of feet with bird netting over, staked down the edges with landscape pegs, secured to hoops with clothespins. The squirrels sat on top of the netting until they could get it to sag enough to reach berries in the middle (I kept putting the berries on the edges back toward the center - will make row narrower this year).

So if I put my hoops closer together this year, and stretch the netting tightly, will that keep them out? It was a bit of a pain last year to pull the pegs (I just started using rocks, since the rodents were pulling the pegs out too!) every day to fold back the netting and pick. But chicken wire would be harder, I'm thinking row cover wouldn't work (they'd chew right through it), any ideas to make it easy for me and hard for them?

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berry_bob

build a chicken wire lid that you can lift to harvest

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 8:27PM
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2ajsmama

The strawberry bed is about a foot wide and over 50 ft long. We've expanded the length of the stone wall, and I'm narrowing it to keep a path between it and the veggie garden, runners crept into the veggie beds over the fall/winter. (The burlap is inside the veggie garden over the beds I just pulled some weeds from, ready to plant - burlap bags on left and pine branches on right just pulled off strawberries.)

The strawberries were originally planted in 2012 on the right hand side, and I just thinned them and transplanted some into the left hand side (where there is a second stone wall behind/above them) last fall, some didn't survive the winter so what gets thinned out and removed from the pathway and veggie garden will go there this year. So might not have a harvest from anything but the original bed this year, but still a bit long to build a wooden frame wrapped in chicken wire along the length.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:58AM
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ltilton

No wonder you have squirrels - all those trees!

Looks like it would be impossible to dent the population.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:27AM
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2ajsmama

We literally have hundreds of acres of forest to the north (behind the garden) and east (to the right). Squirrels are the least of wildlife (though perhaps the most annoying, other than the beavers). Bears, deer, bobcats, coyotes....

DH put a Hav-a-heart trap out by the strawberry bed last summer to "make an example" out of a squirrel - he caught a skunk instead! Good thing the cage was so small it couldn't lift its tail! I spent the rest of the month running out there and yelling whenever I saw a squirrel sitting on top of the hoops/netting.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:34AM
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ltilton

Hope the bears don't get a taste for strawberries!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:28PM
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2ajsmama

Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to the left of this area (next to garage). No bears eating them yet but last year as I went out to water them a bear came out of the woods to the north - probably coming from neighbor's house which is close only a narrow stip of trees between. Was only 20 ft or so from me I was downhill from it.. I ran back into garage and closed the door hoping it wouldn't follow.

My neighbors leave birdseed out all year. Of course the bears are so used to garbage they knocked over our sand barrels one spring thinking must be food in them. Tore apart my cousins shed where kept his garbage cans. We spray ours with ammonia and have bicycle locking cable across handles on lid, also try not to put food incl meat wrappers out until night before pickup but sometimes get too smelly in the house but ammonia works pretty well. Thing is these beads are not afraid of people..

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

If the netting is tight and tree are enough hoops you should be OK. When I used netting on my berries the problem I had was keeping the edges secure from critters crawling under it, make sure the edges have no gaps. I would lay down piping to make sure its sealed.

My latest bed didn't get the chance to work, the deer munched it to death.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 8:38AM
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2ajsmama

Yeah, the pegs don't work all that well - I resorted to rocks. Might have to find some bricks (lots of bricks to go that length!).

Deer munched the foliage off in late fall 2012 before I had mulched/covered for the winter. Most of the plants came back, I really had to thin last spring.

Bear tried to get into our trash last night - overturned the can, but the cable held and it was only able to pull a few plastic cereal bags and things out - I don't know how full the can was, I think even if it's half full it can still turn it on its side, squeeze a paw in to rip open the bag(s). Motion detector light doesn't scare them off at all. Neither do car horns - last summer I was watering tomatoes out back, hauling in 50-gal barrels in the pickup, saw a bear near our pond, got in truck and was driving up to house, it was paralleling me through the woods and wasn't fazed at all when I blew the horn at it, just ambled on up the side of our driveway to check out the neighbors' trash.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:30AM
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charlieboring

I have always felt that in order to keep the peace, we should all try to get along (with squirrels). I negotiated a deal with the squirrels to only take their fair share of my fruit. At first they kept their promise and life was good; I ate persimmons, peaches, tomatoes, cherries, strawberries and pears. But, then they got greedy and broke their agreement, taking most of the fruit. I told my wife, "I'll show these squirrels who is boss here." She smirked! I bought a live trap and caught and relocated 13 squirrels in one year. Life was good and I was proud of my accomplishment. Then the squirrels snitched on me and the local police told me it was unlawful to relocate squirrels even to a new beautiful woods. My wife smirked! I caught 7 more in my live trap and drowned them in a garbage can; I smirked at the ones that got away. Then I noticed that the squirrels obviously must have negotiated a deal with the crows and ground squirrels because even they started taking more fruit. I bought a pellet rifle. I told my wife, "I'll show these squirrels who is the smarter!" My wife said, "That ship has sailed." What did she mean by that?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:47AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Sorry to hear of your squirrel problem. With the surrounding woods I doubt you could ever make a dent in the population. I "removed" about 30 squirrels this past winter and you'd never know now. I don't believe relocating does any good and harms less aggressive native squirrels by taking their habitat.

The only way you'll get anything is if you build a complete enclosure. I saw a video of Ruth Stout and her garden and that's what she had done.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:35PM
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2ajsmama

I wasn't going to relocate the squirrel if we caught one. But agree it doesn't work. Just wish the state wouldn't keep relocating bears from the suburbs to here. They're thinking about declaring a bear season. I told my uncle he was welcome to hunt (already hunts deer here) if they do. The whole neighborhood would thank him.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:26PM
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ltilton

I would wish that, too!

Is your nearby woods state property? [I didn't know there were bears in CT]

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:28PM
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2ajsmama

There is a state forest to the north of us, I forget how many neighbors in between but we have 97 acres, neighbor to the east has a couple hundred, 1 next to him is abandoned Xmas tree farm, our land runs to the north along a ridge behind houses on small lots in this subdivision (old pig farm), there is a right of way to the back acreage of that old farm(60+ acres) a little ways up the street, may be putting in a new road and subdivision there (though I think they'd have to blast as I believe the ridge runs all the way up to the state forest).

If they do develop this land (neighbor to east is asking over $1M) I imagine the wildlife pressure on us will be even worse - at least the large animals will be pushed this way.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 3:45PM
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ahassel4u(z6-7, NY Metro)

I'm in more of a suburban setting than you, but last several years had a big squirrel problem. After trying just about everything (except killing, which I do NOT condone), I happened to come across one of those motion-activated ultrasonic pest repeller last year - I was AMAZED that it worked! Only used it for the last 2 months of the season so I don't know if they learn to tune it out, but I'm planning to use again this year once the fruits are on (of course in conjunction with, not instead of netting & fencing). Mine has a 30' range, so you'd probably need two...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 4:03PM
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mrsg47(7)

Ahassel4you, I just googled "motion-activated ultrasonic pest repeller" and about ten different products came up. Which is the best to buy. Like everyone else I too am tired of squirrels. This gadget almost sounds too easy? I would buy two as well. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 6:18PM
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2ajsmama

Arghh! The chipmunk(s) discovered the bed, I put netting up (hoops closer this year) and 1 strangled himself trying to fit through 1" mesh. But something (squirrels?) is still getting in and eating literally half the berries (I find the other halves). Pulling pegs out of soft ground and going back out the same way? B/c only a few pulled, haven't found a critter trapped. Put heavy stones on those places and I plan to make the bed narrower next year so we can get pegs in better.

Someone mentioned pipe - that sounds good, go the full length, easy for me to move, but how heavy so squirrel doesn't move it? Would they just dig under?

Thinking a 2x4 frame with chicken wire, but would have to re-do the bed to make it a series of beds with lids since current bed is so long. And how to keep them from digging under?

I just can't think of anything that would be easy for me to (re)move to pick, but keep the rodents out. Help!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 3:59PM
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