Here's a guest post from Zoe Poster, who blogs at Pearled Earth.
I am easily vacuumed into the dark vortex of anxiety created by Unwanted Chaos in My Garden (wild self-seeding of Eschscholzia amongst eggplants = good chaos; wild animals with giant gleaming teeth laying waste to my carrots and beets = bad chaos).
So I knew I had better enjoy the window of relaxation afforded me once my evil resident woodchuck had been captured and relocated. Fruit was ripening, and I was getting to eat it! Flowers were blooming. I knew it was the calm before the shitstorm, of course, because I am that kind of person. No one will ever accuse me of being oblivious to the fact that the next worst thing is out there, lurking.
Our prize crop, still ripening, was the organic espaliered apples – our first ever. Remarkably unblemished fruits, surprisingly bountiful. We were so proud.
Then a dark cloud passed overhead, and in its shadow I saw… A horde of ravenous squirrels.
They worked quickly, hauling Northern Spies and Crimson Galas up into the neighbor's maple tree, spinning single fruits rotisserie-style in oversized mitts, spewing juicy scraps of apple meat all over the place. Deliciously tart and puckery, I'm sure, being harvested so early.
Really, what claim did I have to the apple crop? Sure, I lovingly pruned, mulched, composted, and sprayed. But the neighborhood squirrels said: Big deal—we spent even more time cramming peanuts into holes in the dirt!
So, there you have it. I could not think of any conceivable way to rid my garden of squirrels. While we have a plumber friend with the impressive ability to simultaneously drink his morning coffee, smoke his first cigarette, pop off a few squirrels with a pellet gun, and hold a conversation with cellphone clamped between jawbone and shoulder… the truth is that I'd have cried if he shot my squirrels.
I resigned myself this year. If we couldn't have baskets of apples, we could at least have pictures of them before they ripened completely, as a sort of memorial to what might have been. I snapped a few photos. I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. One man's horticultural highpoint is another mammal's midday snack. That's just how it goes, in gardening.