Squirrels eating your eggplants? Girl, same. I grew eggplant without drama for many years. (Read my article on how to grow eggplant here.) Then squirrels took up residence in my tree and all hell broke loose. I didn’t get to enjoy a single homegrown eggplant last year because the squirrels would eat the plant every time it grew a foot tall. It would grow back and they’d eat it again. This probably went on a dozen times before the eggplant finally died. I was determined to find a solution.
How to Protect Eggplant from Squirrels
I tried everything that first summer. Nothing deterred the squirrels. I had a theory: maybe squirrels only like eggplant when it’s small and tender. Just because a squirrel will eat a baby eggplant doesn’t mean that it will eat the plant once it’s taller, thicker, and woodier. Turns out, I was right!
Inspired by my friend Mama Caruso who told me that I need to “garden uglier,” I asked my dad to build me a custom box/cage to protect my baby eggplants. It was a little pricy ($50) to build but it’ll last for a long time. My dad built a 44″ tall wooden frame and stapled plastic netting all around it so that sun and water could get in but squirrels couldn’t. He left 4″ at the bottom so the stakes could sink into the dirt.
Now, eggplants get quite tall and I didn’t even consider having him build a box that would fit a fully grown eggplant but I thought if I could just have them covered until they reach the top of the cage, maybe that would be enough.
How long should you keep eggplants covered?
I kept the eggplants (one black beauty and one fairytale) covered for about six weeks, until my black beauty eggplant reached the top. (Unfortunately the only photo with a taller eggplant I can find is a rather awkward picture of my dog!) I very nervously uncovered my gorgeous, thriving plants, just praying that this idea would work. I waited on bated breath but the squirrels never bothered the eggplant. They had no interest in eating the thicker stems of the plant. And in case you’re wondering, yes the squirrels still live in my yard. They just demolished my brand new sweet potato vines I put in containers on the patio, so they’re definitely still a nuisance.
Sometimes I am embarrassed to call myself a garden blogger because every garden blogger I follow has about 30 garden beds but then I think…how many people really grow that much food? Surely I can’t be the only person with a single raised bed garden. And I get so much food – and joy! – out of it.
I uncovered the eggplants in mid-June. Eggplants don’t set fruit when it’s super hot outside (I always plant in the spring and anticipate a fall harvest) but they kept growing taller and taller and now here it is in October and I have eight beautiful eggplants growing and I just harvested two!
If you are struggling to keep squirrels from eating your eggplants, I highly recommend giving this a try. It’s the only thing that has worked for me! Read my full Eggplant Grow Guide here.