Monday, June 14, 2010

What the F@#K ate my Tomato Plants?????

There's nothing I love more in the late summer and Fall then going out into my garden, picking a load of fresh veggies, and then heading inside to make dinner with the bounty.

I don't have a huge vegetable garden. I can only do so much, but it's nice to have a source of vegetables that I know for sure haven't been sprayed with anything nasty. Generally, I plant stuff, and if it can't survive without pesticides, fungicides, etc. then it just doesn't get grown.

Being that I'm a nice Italian girl from Jersey, tomatoes have always played a central role in my garden. One of my biggest joys in life is that first day you can go out into the garden with a salt shaker, and eat fresh tomatoes, straight off the vine, in the hazy summer sunlight.

So you can imagine my dismay last year when every single one of my tomato plants fell to a nasty wilt last year that hit the entire east coast. One by one the plants steadily turned brown and died off, leaving me fruitless for the season. I couldn't even go to the farmer's market and get many tomatoes, because the professional organic growers were hit as well.

I found out that if I tried to grow tomatoes thisyear where I've always grown them the wilt will come back. Unless I was willing to treat the soil with a load of nasty chemicals, the tomatoes' former location was verboten for at least three years.

So, I had to clear out a new spot to grow tomatoes far from the previous location. Luckily, I had a good sunny spot up the hill behind the former chicken coop. It wasn't as convenient as their previous location right outside the kitchen, but at least it was sunny.

I cleared out a nice patch, worked in plenty of manure and garden soil (my dirt is rather clay like and needs heavy amending) and planted my tomatoes two weeks ago. I can't see the sight from my house, but I walked up the hill behind the chicken coop a few times in the last week or so to look in at them.

This week-end I got some nice chopped straw to mulch the tomatoes. I lugged the mulch up the hill to the tomato patch, and was horrified to see that something had eaten every last plant down practically to the ground!!! Now I've had raccoons and possums eat the fruit in the past once it ripened, but I've never had something actually eat the plants.

There was no way the plants would ever grow back, so today I had to run out to a local nursery and pray that tomato plants would still be available. Luckily there were still a few stragglers.

I'll plant them out this afternoon. But first they're going to be fully doused in a home-made concoction of hot pepper and garlic!!


  1. I've never heard of such a thing. Have you thought about maybe getting those wire mesh things to plunk over them, just to keep the critters out?

    My husband and I are talking about starting a garden, but it will take some time to get an area ready (our soil is highly acidic and very rocky). You said you're on the east coast. I live in NY. Are you anywhere near there? If so, what grows well for you? My husband's grandfather grows tomatoes and peppers, but not much else. I think I'd like a little more variety.

  2. Ahhh, pesky rabbits or squirrels I bet, notorious for this very thing. I know the year I had this fabulous, HUGE tomato plant on my patio, had tenderly cared for it all season, the fruit was nearly ready and as I sat in my living room one evening, I looked out and saw a squirrel jump the thing, breaking the main "trunk" in half. I was sooo mad!

  3. Oh no! I'm growing most of mine on my south-facing deck this year in pots. I'll keep you posted.

  4. Sounds like rabbits... hope your new plants flourish!

  5. What about deer? I have a friend who has lost her garden like that several times due to deer.