After a long dry season, unfavorable for planting, the LORD finally blesses me with heavy showers that excitingly make me pick up my boots and hoe, and head for the garden. Oh! How soft the land was! It was an actual chance for me to plant my maize seeds.

With my maize seeds in the ground, I had it in mind that germination will take approximately six to seven days. I eagerly got through day two, three, four, five, and six.

The squirrel in my garden

On day seven, only a quarter of my garden was covered with young maize plants. _What happened to rest of the seeds? I wondered.

With a bunch of thoughts about what went wrong with my seeds, just a few meters away from my garden, a squirrel crossed my sight as it headed to the garden. I distantly saw it digging up a hole, and this is when I realized that it must have been that squirrel which ate the maize seeds I had planted. I more closely observed that the holes in which I had planted my maize seeds a week ago, were deeper and larger.

The traditional planting method

Under a lot of frustration, I talked to my aunt about this problem of a squirrel in my garden. She of course felt sorry as she informed me that I must have used a squirrel-attracting method of maize planting. She then told me about the traditional way to keep a squirrel from digging up seeds in the garden, and that was the method of using a sharp- ended instrument to make holes in which to plant the seeds. 

With relief, I decided to replant the following week. When the time came, I dug again and used a knife to make wholes in which to plant other maize seeds, and then covered properly with soil.

Two days later, still at a distance, I saw the squirrel in my garden. As I rushed to chase it out, I had faith that it wouldn’t find my seeds, because it looked more stranded than ever,….ha ha! Indeed it couldn’t find them.

A week later, my whole garden was filled with young maize plants, and the squirrel was no where to be seen any more.

Lessons learnt 

As farmers, we often get frustrated by things that destroy our crops, but there may always be an easy and cheaper way of stopping the danger. Squirrels are one of the dangerous pests farmers face. These enjoy feasting on fruits, vegetables, seeds such as ground nuts, maize, and many more plants in the garden. There are ways these are repelled from gardens using various methods such as; surrounding plants with metallic small- holed nets, sprays, and more, but I will base more on a traditional way of keeping squirrels out of your garden of seeds, which is the use of a sharp-ended instrument while planting.

With my own experience, I learnt that to save planted seeds from destruction by garden squirrels, it is always important to plant immediately after digging. This is so because, after digging, the garden is not leveled at all, which may leave the squirrel stranded and finally give up, and out of your garden. Planting days after digging my attract squirrels to check for food in currently tampered with soils, for instance the holes made in gardens while planting, so it’s important to dig, and then plant there and then.

Using a sharp-ended instrument also confuses a squirrel. Squirrels are very wise animals and can easily follow a sequence when looking for their food. A squirrel can easily determine where food (seeds) is in the garden, in case a hoe is carelessly used in the planting process. A knife or panga can be the best sharp instruments to use for making holes in which to plant seeds, because these instruments make sharper, deeper, and more smaller holes which can easily confuse a squirrel in determining the placement of planted seeds.

Above all, the holes in which seeds are panted should be properly covered and leveled with soil as the rest of the garden in order to prevent the attraction of squirrels.

Many times, we learn from our mistakes and look for better solutions to our problems. As a farmer, one needs to try all methods for successful farming results in case of pest problems such as squirrels, or any other. Through my experience,  l learnt that a simple knife can also make wonders in farming beyond merely using it for peeling or cutting.


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