Chipmunk-Treachery: Battling Invaders in Your Garden

Some things you should know about me.

I am a person with a hat. Trust me, it’s a big deal.

Today I found a surprise stash of crazy straws when I was cleaning my apartment! My beverage game is unmatched right now.

And I have a garden that I talk about a lot.

…Oh my gosh! I’m so glad you asked! You see, my garden is going through something.

I seem to have unintentionally crafted a nature preserve on my 8 foot by 5 foot patio patch of cement.

Real things the neighbors get to hear:

  • “I only want the best for both of us!”- I yelled at a bee. To my credit, the bee was getting all up in my business.
  • “BIRDS! THERE ARE OTHER PATIOS!”- I yelled at a pair of birds who were either getting amorous or discussing the new Game of Thrones trailer on my patio as I was trying to eat breakfast.
  • “Nobody wants you here, cat!” – I yelled at a cat who was trying to climb on my patio.

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You picked the wrong porch, chipmunks

I don’t love summer.

It’s hot and humid and I’m a walking sweat-mark. All my friends love to be outside, but I’m too busy passing out or thinking Mother Nature is being passive aggressive for all the complaining I did about Winter.

As a side note, I think even people native to Wisconsin would admit that we went from 0 to 60, or in this case, -20 degrees to 95 degrees astonishingly quickly.

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I don’t love summer, but I love my garden. Packed to the gills with pots, tomatoes, and hanging baskets I repeatedly hit my head on, it is my joy.

The table: The first line of defense against the chipmunk. The second? Hanging plants with a bone to pick.

Dahlia country

I love my garden, but it’s currently under attack by nature.

(I know what I said.)

It came to my attention last year that when you have a ground-level, open cement rectangle full of pots of greenery wildlife is going to be really interested in what’s going on.

Knock-over-my-stuff-interested.


Eat-all-the-stuff-that’s-still-standing interested.

Jerks.

I complained about it enough that my sister and brother-in-law got me Herbert.


Sometimes I look up, and I find Herbert looking into the apartment as if to say, “who gave you the right to take the pea plants away from the chipmunks?!”

Herbert is useless.

And as a side note, RIP pea plant

How do I know? Today, I looked out on the patio, and I watched a chipmunk climb into the pot with my celosa. Immediately to the left of Herbert. The fake owl designed to keep away critters? Yeah, that one.

The way my apartment complex is laid out, if I look out from my patio, I’m looking at the back of another apartment building with their own patios. There is a small Indian family that moves their bigger toys outside in the afternoons, so the kids can play outside.

While I recognize that it could all come down to timing, several times now, I’ve moved outside to water the plants or read, and the family immediately starts packing up their stuff. Once inside, they close the curtains.

Coincidence is a thing! I know! That hasn’t stopped me from trying to look extra-normal and cool and nice to not scare away cute small families. I have a lovely garden, guys! I’m a delight!

Unless you’re a chipmunk climbing into my plants. That’s when I bang a fist on my patio door and yell and look extra-crazy.

It’s hard to convey sentiment and intended target when banging on windows, so ultimately, I think I’m hurting Operation Don’t-Scare-the-Neighbors more than helping it.

So then I ask myself the question: If Herbert is a lazy goon (and he is), how do I keep the critters away from my garden?

My ideas:

  • Asking nicely
  • Creating a barrier of the only thing I have in large quantities at my disposal: Plastic coat hangers I accidentally break when I step on them. It’s demoralizing when you feel like Godzilla in your own apartment. Let’s not discuss the fact this problem could be solved by not leaving coat hangers in the floor.
  • Yelling “ALVIN!” and startling it with my cultural humor.
  • Making peace with it. A chipmunk’s gotta eat.
  • A hammer

The internet’s ideas:

  • Traps: No. I’ll admit, I don’t want to kill them, but I also don’t want to deal with moving them somewhere else.
  • Food they’ll actually like to distract them: What happens when they’re done with the corn on the cob?! I don’t stop going to the grocery store even if they’re out of Starbursts! That’s where the food lives!
  • Get a fake owl to scare them away. Have I mentioned Herbert?
  • Urine. Spray your plants with the urine of their predators. Again, not really helping Operation I-Swear-I’m-Normal
  • Or just spray your plants with a Garlic/Chili pepper solution.

I can do that last one!

Ingredients:

  • 3 heads of garlic: I, in my mania, originally went with 6 heads of garlic. I’m currently typing with my screen door open, all my candles lit, and a fan going to get some fresh air in here. My apartment will not come back from this smell.
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon Oil

The Actual Recipe:


  1. Puree the garlic
  2. Add the garlic to a saucepan with 4 cups of soapy water
  3. Add the chili powder
  4. Steep for 15 minutes, and strain.
  5. Add the oil to the mixture, and store in a spray bottle.

What I did: 

  1. Throw six heads worth of garlic cloves into a blender.
  2. Add water to the blender when it makes angry noises.
  3. Add water to a saucepan and dump the garlic puree in the saucepan.
  4. Wonder what the garlic puree tastes like.
  5. Dip in your pinky finger, and try it.
  6. Regret trying it.
  7. Add the chili powder.
  8. Realize your apartment smells worse than any apartment ever has.
  9. Light all the candles.
  10. Strain the steeped mixture using cheese cloth.
  11. Realize you forgot to add the oil and dish soap, so you add those after the fact.
  12. Try pouring mixture into spray bottle without a funnel.
  13. Get stinky-garlic spray all over your counter, and somewhat into the spray bottle.
  14. Take that chipmunks!


Recipe MVP:

c.o. Target candle section. Target’s unsung hero.

If you don’t have a garden under siege, here are some alternative purposes for your home spun chipmunk repellant:

  • Vampire repellent
  • Friend repellent
  • Family repellent
  • Hopes and dreams repellent

You’re going to repel something with this. This much I know.

My tomato plant is the Napoleon of my back patio

 

not seen: rosemary, mint, and strawberry plants all slowly being consumed into tomato-territory

 
I think my tomato plant has ideas of patio domination. I hate to crush its dreams, but much like land wars in Russia, I bet Wisconsin winter will put an end to that endeavor.