Do Groundhogs Eat Tomatoes? (+9 Ways to Keep Them Out of the Garden)

Groundhog eating tomato. Source

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks) are a notorious pest in the garden. They enjoy eating all kinds of snacks, and fruits and vegetables are no exception.

Do Groundhogs Eat Tomatoes & Tomato Plants?

Yes, groundhogs definitely eat tomatoes! This hungry, burrowing animal eats tomatoes, but won’t necessarily eat the tomato plant itself.

How many tomatoes can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck tomatoes? Err, something like that.

What’s more, they’re not particularly picky eaters either; groundhogs will happily snack on other vegetables and even fruits like strawberries and melons. Whether you’re growing your own tomatoes or simply trying to protect your other crops, it’s important to take steps to keep these voracious critters away from your garden.

How to Keep Groundhogs Out of the Garden

Some strategies for keeping groundhogs out may include physically fencing them off or scaring them away with strong smells or frightening sounds. So if you want to keep those tomatoes safe from pesky groundhogs, it’s definitely time to start taking action!

1. Fences

A fence is one of the more foolproof ways to keep a groundhog out of the garden. Groundhogs can’t really jump very high, so a fence is a great option. However, you need to make sure the fence goes at least 12 inches into the ground, as groundhogs are burrowing animals that can dig below the fence line.

Electric rabbit fences can work as well.

2. Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Groundhogs can be scared easily, so hearing loud noises and seeing a lot of movement can scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler can do the trick.

All you do is attach it to your typical garden hose and aim it towards the garden. This sprinkler will do the rest and scare of small animals and even deer.

The Garden Enforcer - Motion Activated Sprinkler

A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.


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Make sure you setup a trail cam to watch all the animals run as fast as they can away from your garden 🙂

3. Companion Planting

You can also use an age-old method of companion planting, which is essentially planting hydrangeas near other crops and vegetables that act as groundhog deterrents.

Some groundhog resistant plants include:

  • Garlic
  • Rhubarb
  • Alliums and onions
  • Lavender
  • Herbs like sage, rosemary, and dill

Fend Off Sticks have a strong garlic odor which is great as groundhog repellents. Groundhogs are not fans of strong smells, and that’s exactly what garlic offers.

4. Nylon Stockings with Soap

Got some extra Irish Spring soap laying around? Add it inside of a nylon stocking and hang it from a post in your garden. This scent is quite good at keeping groundhogs out of the area.

Make sure it’s hung pretty low to get in the way of the groundhog on its journey to eat tomato plants.

5. Hot Pepper Spray

A cayenne pepper or hot peppers spray is a great option for younger garden plants. Spray tender plants every few days and this can help keep squirrels and other animals that eat tomatoes away.

A garlic and pepper spray combines the best of both worlds, and will help repel groundhogs from your ripe tomatoes.

6. Scarecrow or Fake Owl

Placing a fake predator nearby can help keep the deer at least mindful of where they are. While this alone isn’t going to stop them from eating hydrangeas, it will help along with red cat eyes or strong odors.

Plastic Owl Scarecrow Sculpture

Fake owls are great for keeping many animals out of the garden, including squirrels, deer, birds, and more.

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7. Pick Your Tomatoes Early

Groundhogs and other wild animals are usually drawn to more ripe tomatoes. By harvesting them early, you can avoid some of the damage to your garden. Animals usually won’t eat the green tomatoes, and if you time it right, the tomato can ripen the rest of the way on the counter, safely inside.

There is something known as the breaker stage, where the tomato is just starting to turn pink (or yellow for yellow tomatoes), and that’s the moment when you want to pick your tomatoes.

tomato stages

If you wait too long and pick the super red ones, you’re risking a deer eating them or a groundhog munching on it before you get to it.

8. Spikes or Spiny Plants

There are many types of spiky plants that can really make life difficult for squirrels, but be careful that you don’t introduce one to your garden that could harm or kill another creature.

If you want to go this route, consider a castor bean plant, as it has large spikes that are very painful to get in contact with and also causes the digestive system to shut down.  The smell of the seed pod is also very unpleasant and will keep all types of animals away from your tomatoes. However, the castor bean plant is toxic to humans so handle it with caution!

What do Groundhogs Eat?

Groundhogs eat insects like grubs and snails, but they also enjoy a lot of vegetables commonly found in backyard gardens.

Things like lettuce and other tender vegetables, peas, broccoli, as well as alfalfa and dandelions are some of their favorites. However, as the video below shows, groundhogs enjoy the sweet juices of tomatoes from the vegetable garden as well.

They will also devour anything in the brassica or cabbage family, including brussels sprouts.

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AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

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