I think most wild rodents can be considered cute/adorable/lovable/etc. in certain situations, and pests in others. Squirrels, mice, rats, etc. I never want to mean ill will or harm toward any animal, but sometimes, as a gardener, you just reach a breaking point when there is a pest in your garden. Well, for the past few months, I have been dealing with a ruthless garden intruder...the unstoppable forces of...a vicious squirrel!
Squirrels in Columbus seem to be particularly rough around the edges compared to squirrels in other regions. I guess they have adjusted to living in the city, you could say. Since moving here, I have always thought the squirrels were a little on the vicious side, and since encountering this particular squirrel, my theories have been validated.
But, in the squirrel's defense, I don't know if he is the only one at fault here. This particular squirrel was consistently stealing cherry tomatoes, so one day, to ward it off, Corey threw a miniature gardening shovel in its direction, simply meaning to scare it. Apparently the shovel brushed against the squirrel's paw, and ever since, it has been exacting its revenge on my yard.
Exhibit A: My back steps. I keep a lot of potted plants here so that I don't have to move them when my landlord comes to do yard work. The squirrel chooses to knock one over about two times per week, leaving a huge mess and usually injuring the plant. One of the plants I found face down in the yard, and others strewn about the steps. I also have a potted strawberry root ball that I have been waiting to see signs of life from, and every time it grows a leaf or two, the squirrel is sure to come by and rip them off (he follows this up by using the strawberry container as his personal litterbox). The squirrel also knows that if I've done any work back there, i.e. cleaned up last week's mess, it's prime time to come mess something up.
This poor succulent will recover, I hope, but I found it one day in pieces all over the grass below the steps, with squirrel teeth marks in many of the leaves. Luckily succulents can grow new roots from cuttings, but let's just say that I had one succulent in this planter before and now I have about seven.
Exhibit B: The fall peas and lettuce. The squirrel loves to dig these up, ensuring that I will not have good crops of either this season. I don't have the time to replant the seeds, since the frost will be here soon. The lettuce has taken it especially hard. I did three lettuce plantings, sowing more seeds each time the squirrel paid a visit, but he's still coming back to dig up the now-tiny seedlings.
Exhibit C: He takes a few bites of an eggplant (shown here: gretel eggplant) or tomato, then leaves the rest to rot where I can see it. The gnome is not such a good garden guard, as you can see.
If you have any hints--other than throwing a shovel his direction--for getting this little guy to leave my poor yard alone, I am taking all the advice I can get!