Sonja Unger

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since Jan 27, 2014
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Recent posts by Sonja Unger

One way I do that is to turn the items we are not so keen on into comfort foods, so winter squash which I find horrible to eat, I don't like the texture at all. I turn into bread, gnocchi and a paste which replaces cream in curries

Skandi, tell me more about this magic! I would like to stop buying coconut cream, and would love to do this replacement...
2 years ago

Lorinne Anderson wrote:Unless attracting a diurnal Owl - such as a Barred Owl - I doubt owls will do much for squirrel predation as they tend to be "out" at opposite times of the day.  At least here, our resident Eastern Gray (and black) squirrels do not seem to rouse themselves until the sun is up, and tend to disappear before dark.

I would suggest creating a relationship with whoever rehabs raptors, or other natural predators of squirrels. Offering your property as a release site might be the swiftest way to up the natural control of squirrels.

Yeah, that's why I originally said owl as a secondary predator. I LOVE the idea of making that a release site for raptors. I'll look into it, thanks for suggesting that!
2 years ago

M.K. Dorje Sr. wrote:
Probably my best strategy is to net my  favorite trees that don't have much fruit on them (peaches, pluots, plums) and just let the squirrels eat from the tops of the tallest cherry trees (35') or from the apple trees. I've got TONS of apples, so I use some trees with mediocre fruit as a "trap" crop. I also harvest a lot of the netted pluots, peaches and plums now a little early, and then store the fruit in the fridge and then  ripen the fruit on the counter in paper bags. The squirrels get their crop and I get mine.

I also encourage owls and hawks by putting up nesting boxes, platforms and leaving Doug-fir snags near the orchard and garden.  I have a pair of Sharp-shinned Hawks and several species of owls that live around here now. I 've never heard of hawks attacking gardeners before. But I've heard of Barred Owls attacking joggers though! Hope this advice might be of help...

Thanks for this advice. The netting might not be doable in my case, but I'll think on it. The "trap crop" and predator attraction are definitely in my line of thought though. Can you comment on any characteristics of the successful platforms / boxes / perches vs the unsuccessful ones? (height, placement, direction, hole size, amount of clear approach, etc)?
2 years ago

Lorinne Anderson wrote:Will the tree branches interconnect?

Currently, the plan has all the trees interconnecting by the time they reach full maturity. Some of the trees, like chestnuts, will take a long time to get there. I might decrease the planting density - I do like this idea of the pipe being applied. Won't be able to use on all trees - hazels in particular come to mind, but also dwarf varieties, where there simply isn't 6' of no-branch-trunk to be had. Something to think about for sure, thank you for the suggestion!
2 years ago
Hi everyone,

I'm working on putting together a public food forest, kinda nestled within a sizeable urban forest park. Which is full of squirrels - red and grey. The food forest is a mix of fruit trees (plums, apples, pears, cherries, pawpaw, mulberry, highbush cranberry, elderberry, goumi, peach, and more) and nut trees (chestnut, hazel, and shagbark hickory). My understanding is that the red squirrels will stash nuts, so they can be tricked into doing the harvesting for us if we can come up with a nice "cache" design for them. But the greys will bury nuts individually, which doesn't lend itself to squirrel slavery. In addition, this approach doesn't account for destroyed fruits - I've been reading on here about a single squirrel damaging a whole peach crop off a tree...

I'm trying to sort out how to attract predators (martens, hawks, and to a lower degree owls) without creating an aggression / territory issue - last year, the park had to close some trails due to a highly territorial hawk during nesting season. Imagine picking cherries and getting attacked by a hawk - that does NOT sound like a good day.

I'm also trying to figure out whether leaving a strip of mowed grass between the forest park and the food forest would help matters at all. Currently, the plan is to plant that strip with various fruit trees, which would really just create a squirrel highway from the park to the food forest.

Has anyone seen food hedges work on squirrels? Stefan Sobkowiak talks about how birds prefer to eat honeysuckle berries instead of cherries, so he uses honeysuckle as a sacrificial crop. Is there anything that squirrels prefer over fruit and chestnuts / hazels?

It being a public, urban food forest, hunting, trapping, and use of cats / dogs to reduce squirrel pressure aren't options. Losing all the harvest isn't really an option either. I would love to hear from anyone with an awesome human- vs-squirrel success story...
2 years ago
That is so neat, thank you! I've never heard of these. I have to say - until now, I never realized how hard it is to find a fruit based on colour. I have the memory of it (so more information on the fruit), but based on picture alone - every single variety you suggested looks the same. Heck, I just realized that the plums on the front cover of Gaia's Garden look similar, too Thank you so much for the enthusiastic dive into the world of plums!!!
2 years ago
Amy - definitely not small! These are full-size plums. Not huge, but sizeable.

Kim - thanks for the suggestions! I don't think it's Howard, Burbank, Toka, or the Superior - the inside doesn't look quite right on any of them. The early golden is a possibility... I might try to find some plum experts, like you suggested. That tree has been haunting me for 7 years now
2 years ago
No, because I don't have one The picture is about 8 years old now, and I'm on the other side of the continent as of 7 years ago... I vaguely remember the inside being light and transparent, if that helps anything. Definitely not greenish or blueish. Maybe very light pink or yellow?
2 years ago
These are plums I picked years ago now, on a rental property in interior British Columbia, Canada. Hot and dry climate, hardiness zone 7. These were delicious. There were other plum trees around, of the prune variety, and they were good too, but these guys really stood out. The trees were old, and planted intentionally. This doesn't mean that they weren't seedlings, but just not likely to be an accidental plum tree. I have not been able to find a similar plum colouration by googling, although I tried on a few different occasions. Any thoughts?
2 years ago