• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Joylynn Hardesty
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • James Freyr
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Ash Jackson
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke

Nut Trees and Squirrels

 
Posts: 26
2
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am planting 20 Hazelbert bushes this year on Urban plots as edible hedges, and am curious to know how much the squirrels are going to take, and if they are going to take it all what permaculture methods are there to deal with them?
 
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
243
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
given half a chance the little B@@@@@ will take all of them trust me on this

I try to keep the grass short put up preditor nest boxes and encourage dogs to chase them .

David
 
gardener
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
43
dog forest garden books urban chicken bike
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not know about hazel in particular, but I know the squirrels go nuts on my pecan tree. As it is now I just let them have their cut and still harvest a good amount. They do eat a lot though. I have toyed with the idea of trapping them and using their rotting carcass' to make black soldier fly larvae for the chickens. But I have some local resistance so have yet to go through with it. Something like that would take very little effort on my part and yeild more protein for the chicken.
 
Robin Kyle
Posts: 26
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Guys for the input. Do you know if you can net them to prevent the squirrels getting them out? These will not be huge hedges
 
gardener
Posts: 924
Location: Wheaton Labs
547
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you do end up trapping the squirrels, they're actually one of the better-tasting game animals, in my opinion. Not "gamey" like venison, and easy to process. Barbecued squirrel is awesome, and many people also batter and fry them (cut up into pieces kind of like chicken), or make squirrel stew out of them.

No experience with hazels, but we have an abundance of squirrels, and they definitely go for our pecans and oaks, but with mature trees we always get far more nuts than the squirrels can eat. We just harvest what falls to the ground, and that's still more than enough. Squirrels are notoriously ingenious, so my gut feeling is that netting the hedge will just end up being a lot of work for no gain, but you can always try. You might have better luck with a guard dog, if that's an option.
 
pollinator
Posts: 509
Location: Derbyshire, UK
86
cat urban chicken
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depending where you are, it can be an offence to release grey squirrels- in the UK they're classed as vermin and once captured shouldn't be released!

And I've never worked out a way to keep the squirrels off my almond tree- even though its inside the greenhouse! And there's billions of them, the neighbours think they're cute and feed them
 
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
7
dog forest garden tiny house books bike solar
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If life gives you Squirrels make squirrel pie

paul
 
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perhaps recruit the squirrels to harvest the nuts for you. For example, this box was filled with walnuts soon after being installed.



I can't find the photo right now, but one year I inadvertently left a half bushel basket at the base of the walnut tree. It had a gallon pot in it. The squirrels filled the whole thing with nuts. I emptied it, and it got filled twice more. They poke nuts into every cavity in every tree. They poke nuts into every hole in the ground... Upright cinder-blocks laying on the ground are a nut magnet. One gallon pots are highly favored.

There's a project for a permaculture inventor.... Study squirrels, and test designs, and share blueprints for boxes that are irresistible to squirrels as a stash place for nuts. I think that the best designs will have an easy empty feature so that they can be easily robbed.

 
pollinator
Posts: 182
Location: Washington Timber Country
38
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now THAT is a permaculture solution, Joseph. I love it.

My mom found a squirrel's cache of spruce cones in her shed a couple of years ago - mountains of the things! They're very efficient in their collecting.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2663
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
319
books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Intersting - I wonder if squirrels in the UK would do the same.

A couple of years ago I "harvested" 17 squirrels from our large garden, along with zero walnuts, and zero hazel nuts. Had I been around more I could have easily bagged 50 squirrels over the year.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To follow up...

Here's photos of my squirrel powered nut harvester: Those 6" plastic flower pots are really favored by my squirrels. Cinder-block holes are 5-6.5 inches across. Squirrels will stash anywhere there's a hole, but right next to tree trunks seems to be the most popular place. I'm imagining long woven-willow tubes about 6" in diameter strapped to the trunk.

Early morning:
After a day's work:


 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
7
dog forest garden tiny house books bike solar
 
David Livingston
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
243
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a little confused here . You just put the basket as shown and the blighters fill it up for you ? or are they seperate or upside down, next to the tree far from the tree ?
Here at La Ravardiere they dig holes for the nuts ?
We have Red Squirrel not big enough to eat even if it was legal

David

 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

David Livingston wrote:I am a little confused here . You just put the basket as shown and the blighters fill it up for you ? [...] next to the tree far from the tree ?
Here at La Ravardiere they dig holes for the nuts?



Yup, just as shown. Set the basket on the ground next to the trunk of the tree. The little blighters fill it up for me... This basket filled once a day. Might have filled more often if I had emptied it mid-day. The small little pots inside the basket are just the right size for stashing...

They dig holes here too. Or just pile nuts on the ground. But, if there is a hole already existing, then it just has to be filled with nuts. Close to the tree is safer from predators than further away, so close gets nuts first.

My neighbor had squirrels fill his 4" irrigation pipes from end to end with nuts one winter!!! Ha!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Katrina Jones wrote:Here is a trick I read about enlisting help from the squirrels for harvesting. Place a few 5-gallon buckets filled with sawdust around the hazelnut shrubs/trees. The squirrels know which ones are good and harvest them. They will (hopefully) be inclined to bury them in the buckets of sawdust. You can then collect them for yourself, but be nice and leave some ears of non-GMO corn for them in the sawdust. I will be planting my hazelnuts next spring and will try this method. Let me know if it works for any of you.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'm imagining long woven-willow tubes about 6" in diameter strapped to the trunk.



Another follow-up. I noticed that a squirrel filled the bird-feeder with nuts this week. They were weighed and analyzed for integrity. Even though they are last year's crop about 90% of the nuts are still palatable. The bird feeder is about a 4" diameter tube made from vinyl covered hardware cloth. It is hanging about 6 feet up on the trunk of a walnut tree.



 
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
78
forest garden fungi trees books chicken bee
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am so excited to try letting the squirrels work for me this year. Thank you Joseph Lofthouse! It is a huge daily job of picking up every chestnut as it hits the ground. We knock down the ripe ones when possible. The squirrels are worthy competition, they love chestnuts.

They plant a lot of trees for us too. So many chestnut saplings pop up in odd places. One spot is a nursery bed with twenty little trees in it.

Squirrel: verb, "to squirrel away"
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
Posts: 5146
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1844
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm looking forward to photos and/or descriptions this fall of how people arranged for the squirrels to pick nuts for them... My squirrels pick nuts from the tree and store them in the collection baskets. They also pick them up off the ground... Now if I could only figure out how to get them to de-husk the nuts in the fall.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
78
forest garden fungi trees books chicken bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Netting the hazelnut bushes may help. Especially if the squirrels don't know about them yet and the squirrel population is small.

I would be concerned about tapping the squirrels in netting! I have trapped birds and on one sad occasion a snake that didn't make it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1126
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
87
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are nuts clean after they've been harvested by squirels? Since squirels are related to rats and rats' nests are thilthy. I can't help but wonder. Also , I'm a little OCD.
 
gardener
Posts: 2563
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
395
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books food preservation bike solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I once had a serious problem with resident squirrels invading the ceiling of my cabin. There was a massive colony in and under a fir tree nearby upslope, and they were harvesting every hazelnut on every wild shrub within several hundred yards of the cabin. They were driving me nuts (pun not intended), as they are partially nocturnal and they would make a real racket in the night, and kept me up. They would also chastise me with a chattering racket when I came into the cabin. One night though there was a loud sound or combination of sounds and I woke from a daze of half sleep and exhaustion, and simply had to get up to sort out what had happened. The kitchen ceiling had collapsed. They had filled the insulated cavity between the hanging ceiling and the roof with hazelnuts to the point that it couldn't hold the weight!! Anyway, I got a lot of nuts that year, but they were all under-ripe. I had to roast them well to make them palatable.
I have read about burying scrap plumbing pipe in the leaves under nut trees (was it in one of Mollison's books?--to much info in the brain right now, sorry). Set these pipes up, or connect a bunch in formations with some end caps that will not collect water, and the squirrels will fill them. It has been noticed that squirrels may harvest most of the nuts on certain trees, but they do not eat them all. In fact they seem to store way more than they eat. If one leaves 10 to 15% for the squirrels, you will have a healthy population of happy harvesters to help gather food for the nuttery.

Are nuts clean after they've been harvested by squirels?



Hazelnuts have a green husk, then a hard nut case, then the nut sealed inside, so I doubt that the rodent nastiness that some fear will infect the crop, as long as the nutcase is solid.

That said, the Native Americans who lived in the SW harvested pinon pine nuts from the burrows of pack rats... and in order to access the rat nests they had to break through the rat's shit midden outside the nest. The result was that people would sometimes develop severe respiratory problems that were directly related to something in the fecal matter. The big difference here beyond the shit midden step, is also that the pine nut is virtually uncased, and has just a thin wrapper over the tender meat once it has been removed from the sappy cone, and thus would also be much more possible to have contamination from rodent diseases. I know that I read this somewhere, but it has been years since I did my travelling and studying in the desert lands of Utah, Arizona, and California.
 
Posts: 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anyone tried to put their squirrels to work? If the trick worked, can you tell us what kind of squirrels they probably were and in what state you are?
 
pollinator
Posts: 438
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
119
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Robin Kyle wrote:I am planting 20 Hazelbert bushes this year on Urban plots as edible hedges, and am curious to know how much the squirrels are going to take, and if they are going to take it all what permaculture methods are there to deal with them?



We have here A LOT of wild hazelnut bushes. around the time they could be harvested, I go and give them the look over. Squirrels must be watching me and guessing my intentions because the next DAY, they are gone. All of them [well, the ones that are not wormy. they leave those for me]. Besides gray and red squirrels, we have striped chipmunks ["tree rats"] and gophers. They must all go after them for the nuts to disappear so fast.
Since they are so fast, know just when to pick them and exclude the wormy ones, I keep thinking that someone much have thought of a way to raid *their* pantry.
I heard that people have used old fashioned nail kegs, tilted, with the hole toward the bottom. I'm just crazy enough to try that. Now, if I could only find nail kegs...
I was wondering what percentage they lose and take that: this way, I'd have an army of rodents picking the bushes for me and with a minimum of fuss, I should be able to get nuts for the winter. At that price, though, I might not get many! Also, if the system was that good, I think commercial growers would have tried.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/680771758/baby-barrels-oak-barrels-planter-barrels?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_mothers_day_Home_and_Living&utm_custom1=15636e12-3a23-44ad-8a79-4201e1561a57&utm_content=go_1707961881_69268689529_331635230844_aud-373578794373:pla-303628061699_c__680771758&utm_custom2=1707961881&gclid=CjwKCAjwqpP2BRBTEiwAfpiD-_vh95oTn3FDIIEjyBUykTqoEBjiYv1M9dx_GT21OAJ0V8VINe4GDBoCoCcQAvD_BwE
 
pollinator
Posts: 425
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
54
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Roberto pokachinni wrote:...Anyway, I got a lot of nuts that year, but they were all under-ripe.  I had to roast them well to make them palatable.



That is easy to imagine.  In my own limited experience (suburban grey squirrels, American Southeast), squirrels are not nearly perceptive nor patient enough to pick nuts or fruits when fully ripe.  They ravage some of my trees every summer - my figs in particular - leaving a dozen new fruit on the ground each day.  Each one just less than ripe, each one with a single big bite out of it.

Also, for some reason, of all my trees they raid a particular European pear each spring, systematically denuding the tree of its blossoms, which they eat.  I have other pear trees, plus apples that must have very similar blossoms, but it is always that one tree they hit.  I don't know that they raid my hazel bushes much, which is the OP's concern.  But then I've never seen any nuts on my bushes either.  Perhaps that's why; perhaps the squirrels eat them when still small and green!  I don't know.

I think the notion of using squirrels as nut harvesters to fill specially placed vessels is ingenious!  I have to say, though, I'm a little skeptical.  Perhaps I shouldn't be, since posters here are speaking from their own experiences.  I would want to see it working in practice on my property with my squirrels before I put much faith in it.  If I did attempt this technique, I wouldn't be concerned about catching squirrel diseases, for sure.

I have successfully netted some of my bushes in the past - grape arbors, actually - to keep birds away, and that is something to try for squirrels, as some here have suggested.  But squirrels are imaginative and persistent; I have a hard time imagining a net actually keeping them out for long.

I know that the cage traps do work.  I have seen others use them successfully to catch squirrels.  I tried one once on my property with zero success.  To be fair, it was much larger and built to trap cats, but I don't see why it should prove ineffectual for squirrels.  And in fact the squirrels never stole the bait from my trap (peanuts and peanut butter).  They just consistently ignored the bait, for weeks.  I'd see them walking around near the trap without the slightest hint of interest.  All I did trap, repeatedly, was this lazy possum.  I call him lazy because I'd find him trapped the next day and open the door to release him, but he'd show no interest in stirring, and I couldn't seem to prod him into motion.  He'd just lay there, sleeping for hours inside the open trap, waiting for night to fall, LOL!  Then he'd resume his normal nocturnal routine of rummaging through my recycle bin.

That was two years ago.  Eventually tiring of enduring contemptuous sneers from diffident squirrels while doling out welfare peanuts to lazy possums, I resorted to a more targeted approach: a .22 rifle with subsonic rounds.  It has yielded me the occasional squirrel stew, reduced the pressure on my plantings, and I am satisfied for now.  Further updates will come after this pattern has settled into routine for a few more years.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1410
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, suburban, nearish coast, 50x50, full sun, 40" year-round even distribution
127
kids trees urban writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This solves a LOT of problems.

But anyone have a recipe for under ripe pears with 1 bite taken out of each??  

What is it they're after? They are smart, why would they throw unripe fruit on the ground? They can surely smell a pear when it's rjpe...and they dont seem to need less-sugary pears...do they just have it in for my landlord??  

I'm gonna put out a bucket at the bottom of the pear tree, and see if I get some nuts, sycamore seeds, or anything else interesting (pear tree is an offramp from S-185, the main squirrel highway in this neighborhood).
--
Maybe everything we've understood about squirrels is wrong!
 
pollinator
Posts: 307
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
119
dog
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Back to Squirrels taking more than their share of fruit or nuts...there are two, fairly simple options, depending on specific circumstances.

For "stand alone trees" (those where the sole access is UP the trunk) take a length of single wall stove pipe and snap around the trunk (must be level with ground, all the way around). The metal is unclimbable. Split PVC or ABS plastic pipe will work, but needs to be secured with cable ties, screws or bolts, top and bottom, only. If dealing with a large tree, wrap with metal roofing - but fasten in such a way you don't create a ladder.  Ideally, this would be 6 foot high, minimum. No need for this application year round, it really only needs to be applied for the short period prior to harvest/blossom when theft is occurring.

Second option is electric netting or mesh, to enclose an area, when guarding a grove or a tree that is too short or too close to others for the trunk method to be successful.  it's only 3ft or so high, so key is to make sure there is no way to circumvent the electrified barrier (overhanging trees, bushes, buildings, fences etc.).
 
pollinator
Posts: 463
Location: N. California
146
hugelkultur kids cat dog fungi trees books chicken cooking ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm definitely going to try to put the squirrels to work for me this fall.  We have two large almond trees, and never get any nuts.  The squirrels eat them very unripe.  I was almost hit in the head with the outer shell yesterday.  They are cute on the outside, and mischievous devil's on the inside.  Our walnut tree is huge, the biggest I have ever seen. We get plenty of walnuts.  I also have little walnut trees pop up everywhere.  If only English walnut didn't need a black walnut rootstock I could make a bundle.  Instead I'm pulling walnut seedlings like most people pull weeds.  Good luck, nothing I have ever tried has worked.  Well that's not true. I did manage to get them to leave my veggies alone by dusting the plants with cayenne pepper.  I thought I would have to do it again this year, but so far they have kept clear on my veggies.  You would need a massive can of pepper to coat a tree.
 
Posts: 8
Location: Los Angeles, United States
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was glad to see this forum started-but I’m afraid it has not encouraged me! I have 2 acres with mature hazelnut, hickory, walnut, pecan, chestnut, butternut and various fruit trees. The property is a little sylvan island in a sea of cow, horse and hay pasture. All squirrels come here to eat and I get ZERO nuts - except the bad ones of course. They are gone way before they are ripe. They will leave a few butternuts laying around until everything else but the buckeyes are gone but like them, apparently, I don’t find those very palatable.
If I get hungry enough I guess I’ll eat the squirrels but I am loving my plant based diet for now and have resigned myself to ordering nuts online :^(
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 438
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
119
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Pj Richardson wrote:I was glad to see this forum started-but I’m afraid it has not encouraged me! I have 2 acres with mature hazelnut, hickory, walnut, pecan, chestnut, butternut and various fruit trees. The property is a little sylvan island in a sea of cow, horse and hay pasture. All squirrels come here to eat and I get ZERO nuts - except the bad ones of course. They are gone way before they are ripe. They will leave a few butternuts laying around until everything else but the buckeyes are gone but like them, apparently, I don’t find those very palatable.
If I get hungry enough I guess I’ll eat the squirrels but I am loving my plant based diet for now and have resigned myself to ordering nuts online :^(



With all the money, labor you put in those nut trees, I'd be mad as a hornet/ wet hen [pick your favorite metaphor] if I could not get the fruit of all that labor! I don't care much for red squirrels either, which are quite abundant here and incredibly destructive. "tree rats".
If you have some chickens, care to stack the functions?: Buy some ammunition and shoot the rascals. Your chickens will be delighted to eat them and you will get richer egg yolks... and a lot more nuts. If you choose to eat them, you won't get that much meat from them anyway and since they eat nuts, you are still pretty close to a plant based diet. Grey squirrels are bigger and more tasty. Braise or stew them, add wine or cream to tenderize. Or you could invite hunters and pay them a bounty for every squirrel they kill. or if you have a lot of hunters, have them pay YOU to get rid of the squirrels. Or you could set traps to catch them live and sell them. You now don't have a problem: You have an abundance of solutions.
Please let us know how you solve this one.
 
Pj Richardson
Posts: 8
Location: Los Angeles, United States
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks! Some great idears here.
Yes, I have thought that they would be pretty tasty with their rich, and organic, diet. Will probably try trapping first, saw an ingenious J-tube trap made of PVC.
 
pollinator
Posts: 372
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
53
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If there's an adequate back-stop (or sufficient distance to anything else) an air-rifle or .22lr and a dutch oven can make a difference in the local squirrel population, at least for long enough to get the fruit/nuts ripe enough.  They are territorial so removal of the local squirrels will give at least a few days, maybe weeks, before others move in.  If they are ruining the crops before they get ripe that might be worth attempting.  

If they are polite enough to wait for the nuts to get ripe then I love the idea of letting them fill buckets/baskets for you!  
 
Pay attention! Tiny ad!
Rocket Mass Heater Plans - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/7/rmhplans
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic