I woke up this morning to find this:
and it triggered my instinct to kill. I mean, some varmint is eating my food! Can’t get more instinctual than that. Not to mention all the time and investment I have put into nurturing this crop. Not to mention that my very first BIG juicy tomato was just about ripe enough to pick…
After a thorough debate and inspection of the photos, the concensus of the SLAC theory group is squirrels, rats, or birds. Keeping in mind that my tomatoes are in container pots, on my deck, about 30-40 feet off the ground, rabbits were immediately excluded. I have ruled out birds after a detailed investigation of the crime scene this evening. Burton Richter himself (Nobel prize winner and co-discoverer of charm and former director of SLAC) made a point of calling his wife – an expert on such things – in order to determine the origin of the varmit. Mrs. Richter suggested roof rats. Egads!! I certainly hope not – that sounds rather disgusting and I’d rather have squirrels…
Meanwhile, I have put up every defense possible, short of building a cage for the plants. I might do that this weekend, but since the plants are 6 feet tall, it will be a job. I did some web research and devised a fortified multi-strategy defense. I have purchased Shake-Away Critter-Repellent, it is composed mainly of garlic and fox urine so it is organic, and sprinkled it about. I put out boxes of rat poison and traps, as well as one of those ultra-sonic/EM-wave rodent repellent thingies I had in my garage. I also put out 2 bowls of water (several websites said squirrles eat tomatoes for H2O during a drought – which adequately describes summer in California) and a bowl containing the 7 partially eaten tomatoes from the night before, hoping it might be easier for the varmint to finish them off first. I have also left the lights on, on my deck.
Short of building a cage (or sleeping on the deck with a BB gun) it’s the best I can do….we shall see what has transpired in the morning. If my tomatoes are further eaten by the morning, hell will hath no fury….
Update: It is now Friday. Last night around 1 AM I went out to check on the plants. Sure enough a large juicy (but green) tomato was sitting at the base of the pots. Then there was a rustling noise and a reasonably large RAT (Eeuw!) scurried out of the container pots and ran away. I caught the varmint red-handed! I involuntarily jumped back and screamed (wonder what my neighbors think now), but had no weapon on me so just watched the critter scurry away. (Actually, I don’t have weapons save for a baseball bat or two.) So much for the ultra-sound thingie. I unplugged it and turned on a radio instead for the rest of the night. LaRose Richter gets the prize for the correct hypothesis. Today I took action – the rat control people are coming first thing tomorrow morning, the container with my best plants is now sitting in the middle of my kitchen for the night, and I have about 10 zillion traps surrounding the plants left outdoors….
Update^2: 1:30 AM Saturday. No rat like a dead rat. Yep, my tom-cat snapper trap got’em! Gotta have the right tools for the job.