April 11, 2011

My Trellis Wears a Jacket

My trellis wears a jacket. This year it’s green.


Why does my trellis wear a jacket? Because of the squirrels.

I used to think they were adorable, those furry little creatures with the bushy tails. And so I giggled when my sister lamented over the third garbage can lid they’d destroyed. I even laughed when she told the story of how they had gnawed through her window screens and scattered Oreo cookie crumbs all over her kitchen.

And then…they moved into my neighborhood, and into my yard. I never saw it coming. The trouble, that is. It crept into my life so slowly. At first, the squirrels appeared at the bird feeder. It was fun to watch them up close through the window. That the faces of people and cats through the glass a mere 12” away didn’t scare them in the least should have alerted me that there’d be trouble. Perhaps the critters knew that we couldn’t harm them through the glass. Or maybe they just thrive on danger. Either way, their boldness should have prepared me for the elaborate and malicious scheme they would soon devise in order to frustrate and annoy me.

It’s an annual event for me, the stringing of my trellis. It’s time consuming, but I do a great job of it, if I do say so myself. The strings are tight, neatly wrapped, and evenly spaced. The finished product is a thing of beauty.

Until the spring the squirrels invaded my yard, that is. It happened one night while I was sleeping. The afternoon before, I had strung the trellis. The next morning the strings were lying on the ground. Upon closer examination, I discovered that they had been severed near the top. So, I re-strung the trellis. But, to my dismay, the strings were back on the ground the next day. This time, out of string, I tied the pieces back together as best I could and just hoped for the best. But the trellis was a real mess.

At first I blamed this strange phenomenon on the birds. After all, they do need nesting materials in the spring. So, I tried scattering little pieces of twine on the ground, hoping they’d accept my offering and leave the trellis alone. But, the birds didn’t take the scraps. That’s when it hit me: whatever was cutting my trellis strings was not taking them away, only severing them.

As time went by I discovered that the villains weren’t birds, after all. They were squirrels! I witnessed those clever little mischief-makers running along the top of the trellis. And although I never actually saw them do it, I’m convinced they were cutting my strings just for the fun of it!

Once I had identified my enemies, I was able to devise a tactic to outwit them. I began covering the top of my trellis with a wide strip of cloth, just long enough and wide enough to keep the squirrels from reaching the tops of the strings. It’s worked so well that the animals have had to move on…to my corn patch. Those malicious beasts! It’s been several years now since I’ve managed to harvest a ripe ear of corn before the squirrels devour it.

My beans and peas now grow tall and strong again because my trellis wears a jacket. But what can I do to save my ears of corn? Maybe I can dress them in socks?


  1. I had squirrels eating my corn in seattle and I also despise animals who mess with my garden. : )
    Unfortunately I've never heard of a good way to keep them out of corn, but if I ever do, I'll let you know!