Mice and/or Chipmunks stealing my cherry tomatoes

jtmacc99(z5/6 NY)July 10, 2012

I'm losing my cherry tomatoes to either mice or chipmunks. The little buggers are just climbing up the plants and stealing the tomatoes. This happened last year as well, but eventually there were so many on the plant that they couldn't keep up and I had more than I could eat.

Any theories on how to stop this from happening?

My cherry tomatoes are in pots, so I suppose I could rig up some sort of elaborate plastic shield around the pots and cages that a mouse couldn't climb up, but they are particularly resourceful and would probably find a way around almost any barrier I put up.

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

You could provide them some other more appealing food and some water for them placed near your plants.Its been a hot, rough year for everyone.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 12:01PM
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I had many battles with chipmunks eating my container tom's several years ago.

I tried several deterrents. Hot pepper powder- they just run through it. Foul smelling fox urine- caught a chipmunk trying to drink the stuff like a hamster drinking from it's water bottle. Put out water bowls for them- they'd take a drink before attacking the tomatoes. Even threw a few tomatoes on the ground at different ripening stages for them- they would take a couple of bites, then climb the plants for more.

The one thing that finally sent a message to them... mouse traps. The old fashioned wooden plank with the metal spring loaded snap type. I placed several of these on the top of the containers around the base of the plants.

The varmits couldn't see them from the ground level. They would jump up on the container and set off the traps. If you put enough traps up there, one will go off and hit another, on & on.

The chipmunks were so fast that they never got caught in the traps, but the loud snapping and traps jumping seemed to scare the crap out of them.

I'm not sure about mice. For them you could probably bait the traps if you don't mind some dead mice.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Try putting netting around the fruit trusses or the entire plant. I've read to try repurposing net produce bags from oranges, onions, garlic, avocados, etc.

plus a deterrent like cayenne pepper mixed with equal parts cornstarch or baby powder to spread it further -- around the base & bottom leaves or even near the fruit. (I've not tried this myself, but have read that others use it to deter rodents including rabbits.)

traps will reduce the population (rodents multiply quickly, so don't feel bad about killing them in traps)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:26PM
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jtmacc99(z5/6 NY)

Thank you for the advice! I have been under the impression that ordinary spays and such wouldn't do much good with these little guys. (Very funny story about them drinking the fox urine!) I also hadn't considered giving them water, but I'm thinking that might just encourage even more of them to come around.

I don't mind dead mice, but I would rather just discourage the chipmunks. I think it might be mice, because last year I also noticed mouse activity in my basement on the same side of the house as the tomatoes. When I set up a trap, and killed 3 mice in the basement, the lost tomato issue almost immediately got better.

I would rather not have to wait until they come in the house to kill them, but I don't want to go killing off a bunch of chipmunks either.

I'd move the plants to the back porch, which is relatively mouse free because the terrier patrols the back yard and kills everything. The problem with that is the terrier's buddy in the back yard is a tomato eating Labrador Retriever who does far more damage than any rodent I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 3:43PM
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We have a huge chipmunk problem. They even made holes in our car cabin filters. But "repel all" seems to keep them away from the garden so far....we don't have any ripe tomatoes yet though, so I'm not sure if they'll keep away after they see some yummy red tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:43PM
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