Thursday, July 28, 2011

Caught in the Act

For the past few years I have grown a variety of tomatoes, called Sun Gold. They are a cherry tomato, a bright yellowy orange when ripe. They are sweet, juicy, succulent and I love to eat them warm right off the vine. I planted them quite small and have watched them get tall and vigorous with my daily waterings and weekly feedings. I picked a few a couple of weeks ago and have been eagerly awaiting the ripening of the rest. Before I went away for a few days last week, I had several that were starting to turn yellow. I anticipated a nice handful to pick when I got home. Nothing! I was perplexed. Every day I go out and check and.....nothing! I began to suspect a varmint.

Here's a nice cluster of green ones, still not ripe. This morning I saw a half-eaten ripe one on the railing of the deck. Aha, the plot thickens!

Then later in the day I was reading inside by the window that overlooks the deck and I heard a plop that sounded like a falling tomato. I looked out to see the plant swaying and a chipmunk scurrying across the deck. A little later I heard the same noise and there he was a bold as could be climbing the plant. I had to stamp my feet and make a lot of noise before he ran away. Then I went and got my camera and the next time I caught him in the act and was able to snap this picture before he took off. I'm not sure if he's the only one or part of a group of thieves.

Don't tell me how cute he is! I want my tomatoes!! I wait for them all year, but doubt that I'll have them this year. I'll have to go to the farmer's market on Saturday. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can keep them away? I have two big containers with one big plant each.


Melanie said...

Put out some kind of chipmunk feed. They're stealing the tomatoes to eat them and they're eating because they're hungry. Leave the feed where they'll find it (they probably use an established route to your terrace which a little more observation will reveal) and far enough away from the tomatoes to discourage pilfering. Try the squirrel feed mix that grocery stores sell with the birdseed.

Also, make -- or have someone make for you -- a cage with a double layer of poultry fencing and a "ceiling". Offset the layers so you have holes too small for chipmunks. Use loose-pin hinges so it can be taken apart to store flat and be ready for next year.

norma said...

Thanks, Melanie. Two good suggestions. I would have to make the cage so that I could open it and pick the tomatoes. I went out this morning and whole sections on the bottom of the plant were stripped.

Sue said...

CAT !!

Kathleen Loomis said...

I wouldn't be so mad at varmints if they would eat the whole tomato, not just take a bite out of it and leave the rest there to taunt us. We always blame squirrels, but we have chipmunks too so maybe this criminal conspiracy is wider than we thought.

Melanie said...

Oh, Norma, you want everything.
But seriously, a carpenter will be able to hinge and hasp the cage so you can access the plants. It's an extremely simple structure.

I know all stripes of folks screech about feeding wildlife, but I've success with a feeding station that discourages pillaging from the locals (mostly raccoons and oppossums). It seems cruel to me to feed birds so lavishly and rage at the small mammals.

norma said...

I think it's too late for the cage this year, but I will consider it for next year. I'm not sure if I want to put food out and encourage other critters to come and visit, like raccoons and skunks and possum.

Candied Fabrics said...

I feel your pain. THis year our DOG has been eating our tomatoes just as they turn ripe! I sure hope HE's enjoying them! :-)

my croft said...

Chipmunks are primarily diurnal, the other critters are primarily nocturnal. Not to belabor this, but if you keep the portions relatively small, especially now and through the autumn while they're stockpiling for winter, it shouldn't be a problem.

I will now leave this alone.

Natalya Aikens said...

oh but he is CUTE!!!