Let me start by saying that I do not hate squirrels. They are God’s creatures, and as such, they have a right to exist, and have a purpose on this Earth. I’ll even go so far as to say that they are useful. They plant trees by leaving nuts in underground storage holes. When the nuts sprout in the spring, new trees are born.
Which brings me to today’s topic: underground storage holes do not belong in my garden plots, flower pots, or other planting containers.
I am in a non-stop war with certain segments of Mother Nature Incorporated. Public Enemy #1 this year is not Ray Raccoon or Kit Kat. Last year, both were regular visitors to my humble plot, as evidenced by the almost daily evidence of digging and droppings. I haven’t heard a single meow this year.
But I have had encounters with Ghetto Squirrel. Numerous encounters with Ghetto Squirrel, and the trees he has planted in my stuff.
The name Ghetto Squirrel, a generic name to mean any urban squirrel, was coined by my son back when he was in high school. He came home one day with a fantastic tale about a squirrel that had absolutely no fear of him and his teenaged compatriots as they lounged on a park bench after school. The boys encountered this fearless animal on more than one occasion. He boldly strode over and snatched dropped cookies, approached and demanded popcorn, and chased them out of the area one day when he’d had enough of their adolescent nonsense. The boys chose the moniker and proceeded to make up tale after tale about Ghetto Squirrel, a hard-core New Yorker.
Native New Yorker or not, I do not need oak trees in my flowerpots.
When I started preparing my soil this season, I found enough acorns to feed the entire squirrel population of a small upstate city. I wasn’t happy about it. I knew the squirrel would be back later looking for his nutty stash. Sure enough, I saw holes in my plot every time I arrived in the garden. Carefully, I removed every single acorn I could find, thinking this would keep him out of my area.
But the squirrel had other ideas.
I discovered his real objective when the weather warmed a bit more and I started to see small sprouts in places I knew I hadn’t planted anything. Leaving a few to get a little larger, I soon had a dawning realization:they were baby oak trees. This started a rush to remove every sapling from every spot in my plot and potted plants, as I had nightmarish visions of my garden turning into a small forest. And on the end of every sapling was the evidence which linked Ghetto Squirrel to the invasion.
So I tried a new stance. I tried to make nice with GS. I started leaving him piles of succulent walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. Since he didn’t have to dig for these, maybe he would leave my plot alone. Every time I came out, I saw piles of nutshells and not a single hole. Satisfied, I went along planting, weeding, and smiling as I thought of my squirrel-less garden.
Until I decided to reuse a pot that he’d ruined earlier by digging and disturbing the root system of my iris bulbs.
I started removing the dirt from the pot, having decided to reuse the soil in another area. But as I got to the bottom of the pot, I noticed an unusually large lump in the bottom. Cautiously, I removed it and studied it carefully. Then, I dropped it in defeat. You see, Ghetto Squirrel had buried one of the walnuts I’d given him as a peace-offering.
Now, I might start finding walnut, hazelnut, and pecan saplings.
Ghetto Squirrel: 1.
Ghetto Gardener: 0