It’s tomato season! We’ve all been waiting for it, dreaming about it since the last of the sun-warmed tomatoes were enjoyed so many months ago. We’ve been carefully watching our lusty beauties in anticipation of this year’s harvest. But guess what? There are plenty of other creatures that have been eagerly awaiting this very same event. And more than likely, unless you camp out in the garden 24/7, they will get to your tomatoes before you do.
Is there anything more discouraging than taking your morning walk through the garden and finding half-eaten tomatoes trashed by some nocturnal thief? How can we protect the fruits of so many months’ labors?
The sad truth is that even if you employ all of the tips we’re about to impart, you will lose some of your harvest to pests big and small. So here’s hoping that you planted enough to share.
- Hot Pepper — Sprinkle hot pepper around your plants. On whiff of this will send the smaller fuzzies like squirrels and chipmunks scurrying away. Reapply after it rains.
- Bloodmeal — We’re not so sure about this one. While bloodmeal may work to keep some animals away from your plants, it’s likely to attract others. Mary Beth found that it attracted skunks to her garden and it you’ve got dogs you know this is a BAD thing.
- Cages — Creating a physical barrier is probably the only thing that will keep raccoons and birds away from your tomatoes. For birds, you can use netting, but be sure to anchor the netting to the ground. Some birds are smart enough to go under it. As for raccoons, you’ll need to build cages from chicken wire or hardware cloth. Don’t forget to close off the top of the cage and make sure the cage is a raccoon-arm’s length away from the fruit so the little devils can’t reach your tomatoes.
- Shake Away — Some people swear by it, but we haven’t found it to be effective.
- Water Scarecrow — This is a motion-activated water jet that squirts a powerful stream of water at garden intruders. We haven’t used this yet, but just you wait. Mary Beth’s tomatoes are ripening and the raccoons are gathering. I’m betting that we get a report its effectiveness shortly.
Which brings us to…
- Mary Beth’s Back-up Plan — MB has sworn by all that’s holy that NO ONE is getting to her Black Krim tomatoes. She planted 4 containers this year — 2 Black Krims and 2 peppers. She plans to drag these suckers into the house every night until she’s had her fill. Now that’s hard-core!