After years of losing the battle against squirrels, I finally have a full harvest from my 2 espaliered apple trees, unmolested by the furry-tailed terrorists. Here’s a recounting of my failures and ultimate success:
Squirrel Defense Year 1: ziplock bags on each apple once they were quarter-sized. This kept the coddling moths at bay, but the squirrels just laughed and thanked me for packing their lunch. I found the torn and empty bags and partially eaten apples all around my yard. FAILURE.
Squirrel Defense Year 2: put cloth cotton drawstring bags on each apple once they were quarter-sized. Where possible, I even tied the drawstrings to branches. The squirrels still stripped a majority of apples from the tree leaving the bagged apples around the yard, or left with broken stems hanging by the bag drawstrings from branches. FAILURE.
Squirrel Defense Year 3: covered the entire espalier with 22% white shade netting in early summer. The squirrels had already begun filching the very unripened apples even before I put up the netting, and because I wasn’t vigilant about sealing the perimeter, they occasionally got inside the netting and took about half the apples. PARTIAL SUCCESS.
Squirrel Defense Year 4: as soon as the apples were quarter sized, I covered the entire espalier with the 22% shade netting, sealing the netting perimeter with clothespins every 12″. Squirrels didn’t bother. VICTORY!
A couple notes:
I put a narrow strip of chicken wire on top of the espalier to discourage squirrels from running along the top (which they had been doing before) and tearing up the netting.
I’m still bagging apples, not for squirrel protection but against coddling moths and other insect invaders. I soaked the bags first in a Surround kaolin clay slurry and somewhere between 90 – 95% of my apples are unblemished. Next year, I’m going to use try-on footies instead of cloth bags for better sunlight penetration. Even with the combination of 22% shade cloth and cotton bags, however, the apples still had a lot of red color.
Go here to read the rest:
Do squirrels eat apples and pears? – Houzz
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