Water the garden

Last year, I finally planted a vegetable garden. I live out in Spanish Springs on a roomy little parcel, so I could make as large a garden as I desired, limited only by my slightly shrunken capacity for labor. I ended up with a respectable patch, got it fenced, brought in some decent dirt, planted various veggies, laid in the drip system, and … bingo! Let’s make food.

One problem. One major problem. The rodents. Now, the fence did a great job keeping all the bunnies out, my ’hood being loaded with both pesky cottontails and jacks. But the fence was basically nothing to the squirrels, specifically the little white-tailed antelope squirrels (very common critters that look like chipmunks, with white-topped tails they lay across their backs along a spinal path). These little boogers are both incredibly agile and constantly hungry, making them enemies of gardens.

This set the stage for the sad reality of last August, when I would stand on the deck overlooking my patch and watch as antelope squirrel after antelope squirrel would zip up the fence, plop into the garden, and then commence to scarf away on whatever ripening goodie happened to catch his eye. Oh, I would bark and bellow at them, and yes, they’d scurry off. But I couldn’t watchdog all day. And they knew it. (Paiute saying about these varmints: “You see one, you see 50.” I now understand.) As a result, I ate all of one tomato from my six plants last year. And that one fruit had a frickin’ tooth mark in it. I vowed this year would be different.

This past May, I was describing my upcoming war to a neighbor, and was wondering just what would be my best strategy? Electric fence? Nasty-ass poison? Motion-sensitive lasers? A grisly display of squirrel corpses? Cherrybomb land mines? He said, “Nope. Use your pee.” Beg pardon? “Use your pee. Piss all around the fence regularly. There’s something about human pee, specifically the male’s, that bugs squirrels. It reminds ’em of coyotes, maybe. Something. But it might work.”

Appreciating the simple, organic elegance of this approach and its extremely light impact on the budget, I set to work immediately. Most personal leakage over the last few months has been taken to the garden perimeter and generously applied. The results? Well, I’m not going to declare total success with Operation Yellow Splash, and hail it as some kind of breakthrough in pest control, but I will say this—I’m sure harvesting a lot more food this year. Yes, I do see the occasional chewed up cherry tomato, but that, I gotta admit, could be the lizards. Honestly, there just might be something here. Put it this way: I’m ready to employ O.Y.S. next summer and see how it goes. Any of you have some info along these lines? I’d be curious to hear your confirmations, rejections, and/or bizarre tales.