Thursday, 6 October 2022

Squirrels & Sweetcorn


They are very sweet, aren't they? Those rats with fluffy tails that run along the wall on the boundary of my allotment, or I find hopping down the path of my plot when I arrive. That is until they completely strip a whole bed of sweetcorn on my plot, now I'm not so happy to see them on my plot! 

I know, I know, if something isn't eating your vegetables then you're not really part of the eco system, and I'm happy for wildlife to share, but when the buggers take the bleeding lot that's a call for all-out war! or at least some preventative measures.  

The later second sowing of sweetcorn I protected by covering the cobs with plastic pop bottles because they were on the turn but not quite ready for harvesting and eating by humans, and even the squirrels stripped the corns then though better of finishing them off. 

Two full 2.4m x 1.2m beds of sweetcorn and I ended up with only eight cobs!

This last weekend there were a large number of young baby squirrels chasing each other in the trees at the back of the plots and one was in the process of pushing timber out of my timber rack to make a nest which is called a drey. 

A dray is normally a compact, spherical structure. It is slightly larger than a football and constructed of twigs, leaves, bark and grass. I've actually found one in a loft of an old Victorian property I was working on and that one was massive. 

Grey squirrels tend to breed in between January and April and, if food is plentiful, they may have a second litter in the summer, and they have not been going hungry on our allotment site, at least two other plot holders lost all of their sweetcorn as well.

I evicted the squirrel from my wood pile that has quite a lot of timber roofing battens in it. This now has me thinking.... 

The beds are 1.2m wide by 2.4m long and if I make square timber frames up and brace them diagonally from corner to corner, I could then make 12 of them and cover them with chicken wire and fix them together with cable ties to form a cage. Sweetcorn is between 1.8 and 2.1m tall normally.  

Two additional square frames would fill the top in and hopefully keep the little buggers away from my sweetcorn next year. 

Thus, I need 4 x 1.2m length of timber for the sides and a single 1.2m x 1.414 = 1.7m length for the diagonal. 

14 such frames means.

1.2m timbers x 14 x 4 = 56 number lengths 
1.7m timbers x 14 x 1 = 14 number lengths

I think I need to see just what is in the wood pile during a future visit, before embarking on making these panels. 

I've also been looking at perhaps replacing the timber element with Upvc conduit pipes and corner fittings, but they would not be able to be braced against any wind load and it's going to cost me. 

Commercial fruit cages look to be way too expensive an option.  

I'm open to any suggestions for other ways of keeping squirrels away from my sweetcorn in future. If you have any ideas, then please let me know? 

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