Grow tomatoes, they said

Back when we first moved into our house, and I was trying to build a garden that wouldn’t be raided by wildlife, people told me: “Plant tomatoes. The animals won’t touch them.” I didn’t plant tomatoes. I don’t like tomatoes. I like lots of things made from tomatoes: pizza sauce, tomato soup, marinara, but an actual tomato has just the right texture to make me flinch when I bite into it. I’m a freak, I know, but there’s just something about the feel of a tomato that makes my tongue want to retreat down my throat.

Instead, I spent lots of time fortifying my garden. The effort paid off. I made my garden impervious to rabbits and groundhogs, etc., just in time to abandon gardening in order to take up the hobby of raising children. Through all the years my garden lay fallow, I took pride in knowing herbivores could not get at the various weeds filling the space.

This year, my wife took an interest in gardening. Men familiar with wives will understand this means she did a lot of pointing while I did an equal amount of digging around in dirt. The pointing was crucial; without it, I may not have understood which dirt I was to play in.

In our refurbished garden, we kept it simple, planting only cucumbers and peas. The cucumbers went wild, overrunning the peas as well as the garden fence. It’s a good thing we didn’t plant tomatoes in there; they wouldn’t have stood a chance against the invading cucumber hordes.

Cucumber plants going over the wall to carry their conquest into the back yard proper.

My wife likes tomatoes. She likes them a lot. So, we planted some tomatoes in a pot on our deck. They prospered well, until the fruit started to turn red. Then we began to find bites taken out of them. The Internet cast the blame at squirrels. The Internet casts blame for a lot of things at squirrels. I’m sure some of it is justified, but I bet some of it is thrown at them based solely upon reputation. Squirrels have a PR problem.

I wrapped chicken wire (or as the chickens prefer: flightless bird wire) around the pot. The depredations continued unabated. A friend suggested it must be birds attacking our tomatoes, but I’ve seen the mouths on the birds around our place and I doubt they’d leave teeth marks.

One day I noticed movement inside the wire. As I came closer, the movement noticed me. Up the wire scampered a dirty little red-faced chip monk. He leapt from the wire to the deck railing and was gone before I could do more than stomp my foot and yell at him to get a job.

What a nice chap. He left half of the only ripe one for us.

We slid the pot away from the railing and removed the accommodating wire. The thievery continues unabated.

To date, the tomato arithmetic has worked itself to a ratio of one tomato for us, one tomato for Chip. I guess that makes us Nature’s perfect socialists.


22 comments on “Grow tomatoes, they said

  1. I’ve NEVER heard anyone say that tomatoes don’t get touched by critters. You better reconsider who you’re getting your advice from.
    I’ve met a couple of people in my life that absolutely hate tomatoes, too. Wierd.

  2. Tom W says:

    Every time I came up with a way to keep squirrels off the bird feeders, they would find a solution, in a week or less. So, I paid 30 bucks for one of those lamp shade things (like the dogs wear after surgery). That worked for a few months, until they figured a way to climb on and over it. So, I sprayed it with WD40. Now they jump up off the ground -think kangaroo- and grab the bottom of the feeder like a trapeze and swing it until some seed falls to the ground so they can jump down and feast. I’ll get those little varmints yet – think Wiley E. Coyote.

    You know squirrels have just two jobs, eat and make more squirrels!

    • Where do I go to apply to become a squirrel? We gave up on bird feeders years ago after every animal and his brother showed up in our back yard looking for a little something to get them through the day.

  3. thegsandwich says:

    Your story reminds me of a friend who bragged about the fence around her vegetable garden. She thought it was critter-proof until one day she saw a woodchuck climb up it and then over the fence. My gardens aren’t protected at all, and so far have succumbed mostly to insects. But you’re right about cucumbers. Damn, they’re prolific.

  4. CrankyPants says:

    As always hilarious. We’ve been trying to grow a bunch of hot peppers and the weather isn’t cooperating. Also cucumbers, beans, onions. Add in the birds took birdseed and put it in our veggie box and that included corn, so now we apparently are growing corn too.

    I do wonder but the connotation that us wives finger point? Don’t know what you’re talking about…

  5. Just Joan says:

    The only crops we’re growing this year are tomatoes and herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme… not the kind you’re thinking a VW Bus owner would grow). There are plenty of critters here but they don’t bother my tomatoes, which are coming on like gangbusters right now. We fill the bird feeder with sunflower seeds, sometimes twice a day, and the squirrels (one of which we have nicknamed Tubby) eat to their heart’s content. Our fence is mainly to contain our dogs. It’s not high enough to keep out deer and it’s slatted, so small non-climbing critters can squeeze right through. The best deterrent I have is a part-time outdoor cat. As for socialism, you’re giving the chipmunk half of something you didn’t really want in the first place. Unless you can just point at the tomatoes and your wife will magically turn them into pizza sauce. 🙂

  6. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Clears throat. Please sit down before you read what I am about to say. In this house, I’m the one in the dirt, not hubby. He has an aversion to dirt, specifically gardening. Imagine that! Sorry to hear about your gardening woes and sorry again about laughing regarding the chipmunk. I have a few of those running around and one is guilty of chewing the stem of one of my Asian lilies to the ground, making it necessary for me to bring it inside to put into a vase. Probably the same chipmunk teased 3 of my cats today, brazen guy, as he laughed when he saw 3 cats lunge towards him, almost going through the screen. He better pray that screen holds. My boys mean business and they will if able get to that darn chipmunk. As for your cucumbers ….. why I don’t grow veggies. LOL

    • Those chip monks act pretty tough when there’s a barrier. If you keep losing lilies, maybe it’s time to think about letting the cats out. Or maybe just put Hubby out in the garden. Tell him he doesn’t have to do anything to get dirty; just stand there and look mean.

  7. Jaya says:

    Tomatoes and humour – new, great combination! Thanks for making my day.

    “Men familiar with wives will understand this means she did a lot of pointing while I did an equal amount of digging around in dirt.” 😂😂 Wondering whether to show it to the husband or not!

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