Help a reader: How can you keep squirrels from eating your tomatoes?

squirrel eating on roof
This squirrel is eating a maple seed, but what can you do if squirrels go after your ripe tomatoes? Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

A reader sent me this question that I can’t answer, but I hope one of my readers can. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Does anyone have suggestions for deterring squirrels? Every year my friendly neighborhood squirrel gets in my garden eats my tomatoes. He even actually brings them up on my porch sometimes and leaves the peels and uneaten portions laying there. It’s very frustrating that he picks my fruit before I can even get out there!

The squirrel also digs in my planters and pots to eat the bulbs on my plants. They are very persistent and pesky.

Glenda Blackman


Squirrels can indeed be pesky. Can deterrents used for rabbits work for squirrels? Readers, what would you suggest? Please leave a comment.


Sometimes readers contact me with questions that I can’t answer. I’m not a gardening expert– I’m a writer by profession. I interview knowledgeable people in order to provide you with great articles on

So when someone asks a question I can’t answer, I post the question and rely on my readers to share their expertise. If you have advice for Glenda, please leave a comment below. If you want to know the answer to this question, check back later to read the comments.

Sending a question to me to post can be helpful if you’re looking for a wide range of opinions and don’t mind waiting for the answer. If you want to try this route, email the question to me at and I’ll pose it to my readers in an upcoming issue.

A more efficient route for getting your questions answered is to turn to Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension or to turn to your local garden center.

For Master Gardeners at Cornell Cooperative Extension Erie County, call (716) 652-5400 from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays or email them at For Chautauqua County, email your question to; call the Helpline at (716) 664-9502, ext 224, or stop in to the Frank Bragg Ag Center, 3542 Turner Rd., Jamestown,  from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays.

There are helpful Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in other counties, too. Find contact information here for your county’s Cooperative Extension office.

The businesses that support this magazine have very knowledgeable staff. Check out our Gardening Directory or click on an ad to get their contact information.

20 Comments on “Help a reader: How can you keep squirrels from eating your tomatoes?

  1. This year I used cut up potato, onion, and vegetable netted bags and with wood skewers to hold them down. I placed them around my planted peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and flowers in their pots to prevent digging in the dirt by the chipmunks and squirrels. It has worked!

  2. I have the same problem—squirrels eating my tomatoes as they ripen. Asked a vendor at a local farmers market how he kept squirrels at bay. He said to put a (Downey) or generic dryer sheet at each tomato plant. I am trying it, hoping for success. Results later.

  3. This year I planted marigolds among my herb pots and for the first time in eons the squirrels are not digging in! They don’t like the scent. I went further along this line and when the marigolds have faded I crush the dried flowers and spread them on top of the soil where I keep my agapanthus – magic! Good luck with your pots. I have not had to do much with the tomatoes, I only have two plants.

  4. Anything labeled ‘deer resistant’ will also be something that squirrels stay away from. For example – they won’t eat daffodil bulbs or alliums. I have also received the advice of spraying hot sauce on veggies and plants. Then they won’t eat the veggies. I tried this method – but did not have much success.

  5. A few yrs ago squirrels were biting our cherry tomatoes. I brought some peanuts in the shell and sprinkled them around in the garden. Very few tomatoes ruined after the peanuts!

  6. using ‘Deer Defeat’ all natural deer, rabbit and ground hog repellent you will need to in general sense re-apply at some point depending on what you are spraying but you will not need to rotate in other methods of deterents so in that sense it is a permanent solution. i do not believe there are any one time applications and done solution except extermination of the squirrel.

  7. Hanging old CDs aound the plants works as well. The spinning and shining confuses them. However, it tends to be temporary as they will get used to them.

  8. I use the inexpensive red crushed pepper and sprinkle it on and around the plants and planters. You have to reapply it every so often.

  9. These are great suggestions. I had a problem with squirrels eating the seeds out of my sunflowers, but I never heard of them eating strawberries or tomatoes before. If you’re going to net the plants, use something strong. I used some leftover tulle (that netting that is used in dressmaking), but they ripped right through it. If you have several tomato plants, you might want to try what this gardener uses to keep birds out of his berries.

  10. I have squirrels and chipmunks come on my deck and dig in the pots and eat my everbearing strawberries every year. They make a huge mess and it’s very annoying. This year I tried a solution I remember my father using in his garden years ago. I got out my aluminum pie pans and tied them up so they bang together with the slightest breeze.
    Well, it has worked like a charm!! No digging, no mess and I have enjoyed my strawberries this year for the first time in years. Thanks Dad!!

  11. I recommend ‘Deer Defeat’ deer, rabbit and ground hog repellent all natural and safe. Do not spray directly on items you will consume rather spray at the base and perimeter of your garden.
    Available locally at: Pace Landscaping, Zittle’s, Lockwoods and Shamel Milling.

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