Hello Fellow Readers,
There’s lots of spring building going on. We’ve had a robin flittering from here to there outside the kitchen window making a nest in the viburnum. What a joy it will be to watch the miracle. We sure don’t feel the same way about other critters making nests though, like the carpenter bees we spoke about last week if they take up residence in your deck rails or siding.
I’ve always wondered why there are tips of branches with baby leaves scattered about in the spring. We came upon clusters of emerging oak leaves at Camp Mohican in Blairstown on Easter afternoon. Then dozens of tiny mops of maple leaves along the road during a walk with Miss Ellie. Just yesterday there were bunches of baby beech leaves on the footbridge crossing our pond. A Google search proves the culprit are squirrels likely building nests as evidenced by the sharp cuts on the stems. If squirrels drop a cluster of leaves, rather than retrieve it, they chomp another branch tip to use for their nest. Talk about being wasteful.
I also read that squirrels are fond of feeding on the buds themselves in late winter and early spring. Perhaps their littering of tree tips is in defiance that their spring bud feast has ended. Just kidding; I doubt they are that ungracious. Come fall they’ll nibble branches loaded with nuts for easy pickings from the ground.
Some say squirrels chew branch tips to keep their teeth sharp or because they’re bored which makes me smile. “Run around the house or run the vacuum,” was dear old Mom’s fix-it when we’d complain about boredom. I never took her up on her suggestions though.
How to remedy the litter of baby leaves? I stumbled upon an article about squirrel deterrents that mirror deer deterrents such as hot pepper spray, mothballs, blood meal, and predator urine all of which seems a long shot but hey if you’re bored maybe give it a try. Or just accept squirrels’ antics as nature’s way of pruning. Unlike deer, they won’t devastate a tree.
While visiting clients in Piscataway, Kathy pointed out her new squirrel feeder which looked like a large peanut butter jar poised on its side filled with sunflower seeds. It was suspended by a deck of sorts made of cedar. “The theory is if you feed the squirrels it will prevent them from hoarding food from the bird feeders,” Kathy said then confessed it wasn’t working. In fact, they now have more squirrels eating from the bird feeders. Maybe they are ungracious after all. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com