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There are two things every North Texas gardener knows for sure every time they plant something: the squirrels will try to dig it up and it may not survive the summer scorch.

Late as I am in planting my vegetables, I wanted to do as much as I could to ensure their success. The raised bed sweet hub and I made a few years ago didn’t withstand the weather test, likely because most of the lumber we used was sourced and of unknown origin, so whatever sealing we did was a best guess.

Rather than attempt to make do with the clay and rocky soil we have, I went to pots this year. I’ve read a lot about patio planting and figured it was worth a shot.

And then I remembered my furry foes: the squirrels of mass destruction. If keeping them out of a raised bed, every bed for that matter, was hard – pots are worse. Plants in pots are practically plattered, enticing squirrels out of every Pecan tree for miles around.

Some say net the pots from top to bottom, others say opting for a greenhouse is smarter – but I found a few gardeners who swore by baking cooling racks. Used either on the soil or as a fence, wire racks apparently have enough mystery and paw discomfort to stymy even the most pesky squirrel’s curiosity.

The other thing that has no chance are coconut liners in hanging baskets. Whether it’s for nesting or just to irritate me, the longtailed monsters pull them apart, fiber by fiber, in a matter of days. This basket was new in April.

So, I’m trying a new tactic, and planting in bowls in the hanging baskets. Let’s hope their slick sides and fiberless appearance makes them mundane to the squirrels!

And, while we can’t do much about the heat of summer we can add to the absorbency of the soil. Near the bottom of the pots, and at the bottom of the bowls, I cut kitchen sponges into small squares and layered them in. The goal would be that additional moisture in the soil stays in them, rather than drain out.

Happy planting!