Posted on 18 February 2008 by

When Animals Eat Your Tomatoes

Squirrel TomatoBy Michelle Fabio

As winter winds down, you’re thinking of starting your seeds indoors and already envisioning enjoying a big, juicy tomato in the summer heat.

But sometimes animals come between us and our tomatoes, don’t they?

What’s a tomato grower to do?

First of all, if something is eating your tomatoes, the usual suspects are rabbits, deer, rodents (squirrels), or even caterpillars. Be aware that many states and countries have laws against trapping and/or killing wild animals, and anyway, that’s not something that Tomato Casual would recommend.

So the following are some ideas for preventing animals from stealing your tomatoes; depending on the size of the critter involved, some may work better than others, so use your judgment.

(1) Cages or other physical barriers around the plants. Chicken wire and mesh will work, but just be sure to also cover the tops of the plants otherwise the tomato stealers may just learn to take the tomatoes from the top rather than from the sides. And thank you for the free workout!

(2) Noisemakers and other distractions. Suggestions include tying up plastic bottles, aluminum pie plates, CDs, and even plastic owls to peer over the area. Many animals will get used to these pretty quickly, though, so you may find yourself changing methods quite frequently.

(3) Hot pepper. Sprinkling hot pepper around the plants (but not on the plants) may work to keep away the animals after a whiff of the stuff; although the website of The Humane Society of the United States doesn’t recommend this method , it also says that the hot pepper doesn’t seem to do any lasting damage to squirrels, in particular.

(4) Get a dog or cat. This certainly shouldn’t be the only reason to accept the responsibility of caring for an animal, but the presence of another creature often does the trick. Of course you do run the risk of your dog or cat damaging your tomato plants and also that your pet may “take care” of the problem in a way that you wouldn’t support.

(5) Blood meal. Of all the suggestions out there, this one seems to be the easiest to apply and also one of the most effective. Sprinkled around the bases of your plants, the blood meal will start to give off an odor reprehensible to squirrels, for example, but not to us. You should be able to find blood meal at home gardening centers.

What do you do to keep your tomatoes safe from invasions?

Read more information at: The Humane Society of the United States
All Experts: Wild Animals-Squirrels eating tomato plants
Tomato-grabbing squirrels adapt to your weapons

One Response to “When Animals Eat Your Tomatoes”

  1. Don Simonet Says:

    I’ve probably lost nearly two dozen tomatoes this summer…whichever animal is doing this eat just enough of the tomato to make it unfit for human consumption… I thought it might be chipmunks but some of the eaten tomatoes were too big for a chipmunk to haul(I find the eaten tomatoes outside the garden)… Ive tried chumps of cat urine, moth balls, and blood meal…I didn’t find out about blood meal until late in the growing season…if I don’t have a plan by next growing season I might either skip the garden or grow something animals won’t bother with, but I love home grown tomatoes….never had this problem until this year…there are rabbits around because I’ve them and their bunny bullets

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