Keeping Squirrels Away From Tomato Plants
Master gardener Paul James puts up his defenses against a common tomato raider.
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Over the years, master gardener Paul James has tried every form of tomato-containment method imaginable, from simple stakes to welded-wire cages. He's never been all that impressed with any of them, largely because they don't keep the squirrels from eating practically all of his tomatoes.
So he decides to try something new, a welded-wire fencing material that features smaller openings — ideally small enough to keep out the squirrels. Of course, the openings are also too small for him to get his hand through them. Although this means harvesting that will be tough, he has a plan to deal with that problem.
Rather than cage each tomato plant, he cuts a section of the wire fencing material long enough to wrap around the entire bed, thereby creating one giant cage. Although the cage won't be secured with corner posts, Paul secures the two ends with a few twists of wire.
As an extra measure of protection, he cuts a few sections of the same material to cover the top of the cage and secures them with wire as well. After all, squirrels are clever critters, and if they can't get through the sides of the cage, they'll find their way through the top.
The tomato plants will tend to sprawl rather than grow straight up as they would on a stake. However, that's okay because tomatoes actually yield more fruit when allowed to sprawl.
When it's time to harvest, simply untwist the wire, open the cage, grab a tomato or two and put the cage back together again. The process may prove to be a tad tedious, but harvesting the perfect tomato should make it worthwhile.
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