I have a problem with chipmunks and squirrels eating the seeds of sunflowers before they get a chance to sprout and grow. Any suggestions for deterring the critters from getting the seeds before they have a chance to sprout? Thanks, Sue

Sue, I think everybody who has ever planted sunflowers seeds has had the problem of chipmunks, squirrels and crows eating the seeds before they sprout. There are repellents you could spray on the area to discourage the critters but there’s another approach that I prefer. After the seeds are planted, cover the row or area with germinating fabric (aka floating row cover). This light fabric will protect the seed and trap heat and allow water to pass through so the seeds will sprout as quickly as possible. Once the plants are growing, the critters lose interest and you can remove the fabric. If you have some cheesecloth or burlap that could be used as well. The next problem will be when the new seeds form on the sunflower’s flowers at the end of summer. All our critter friends will come right back and eat those seeds before they ripen. Once again your fabric comes to the rescue. Wrap those sunflower heads with the floating row cover or other light cloth and that will keep the chippies and birds from getting at them. You might need a ladder if you grow the larger sunflower types. Germinating fabric/floating row cover fabric is available at Hewitt’s under the name ‘Grass Fast”. You can reuse it from year to year and is also very handy when you want to protect plants from late spring or early fall frosts.

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