Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CRITTERS IN THE GARDEN

The lowest tomatoes on the bushes are being eaten by something.  At first I thought it was birds when I saw a damaged one last week, but I now think that was a split from the heavy rains a couple of weeks ago.

This is what happened this weekend:

Something eating tomato bottoms
It is the lowest fruit on the vines and only the bottoms of each are eaten.  I'm guessing rabbits?  We had not had any problems in the garden so I was hoping the pickets on the fence were close enough together that they weren't able to get in but alas, I believe the garden has been breached!

The only 'upside' that I can think of is that the rest of the toms are much higher up in the bushes so I think they are safe.  Until then, I'll be getting some hardware cloth and fighting the good fight!


Cornmeal to kill ants in raised bed   
The other problem was ants in the eggplants.  Two of the three plants were for all practical purposes, dead.  So I pulled them up.  Then I got some cornmeal, something that a few of you recommended that as a garden safe treatment.

I sprinkled it all over the beds where the ants were, and I could see them gathering it up and taking it down into the nest.  I'm assuming all sorts of bad things (for them) will result, but as long as they are gone and we can get some eggplants growing, I'll be happy!

Hope you are the only things eating the product of your gardens!


25 comments:

Jenny said...

My guess squirrels, groundhog or rabbits are having a very nice meal. Sorry you're losing your tomatoes.

Catherine said...

Have you thought of mice? Although I suppose they'd have to be pretty large mice! You poor things, what a waste of tomatoes, good luck on getting the culprits to back off!

wendywoo said...

I had chipmunks do that to my tomatoes. Just before they were perfectly ripe...blam! Another one ruined. I now garden out in the middle of a very large, closely mowed field. No more half eaten tomatoes. Way too much wildlife!

Myrna said...

The squirrels ate ours right in the container pots. They sat on the rim and munched away.

texomamorganlady said...

Sorry hun, you just fed those ants! The cornmeal idea comes from it's supposed use to kill cutworms. If it were that easy to get 'em, no one would have an ant problem. I hope you don't lose too many tomatoes, I always have a hard time sharing my produce with the local fauna.

Ranni Moonbeam said...

We lost a bunch of tomatoes when gardening inside a fence that one of my cats could get into. She still eats tomatoes if she can get to them so we have baskets hanging from the ceiling to store them in, out of her reach. Opossums eat tomatoes, also. No telling what's doing it. We're still having an ant problem and we were using used coffee grounds. Not sure what to do about them.

Texas Rose said...

Oh, those wascally wabbits! Yes, I think Peter Rabbit or one of his cousins might have found Mr. McGregor's and Seda Bolsa Farm’s gardens! It could even be that cute little cottontail rabbit you took a picture of - oh, the betrayal!!
It could also be possums. I have suspected them as the culprits who eat the low-growing fruit on my fruit trees. I have seen them in my yard at night.
Your added barrier of hardware cloth should help.
And I also always plant extra to share with my neighbors - 2-legged and 4-legged.
But I draw the line at ants, especially fire ants! There is a constant war in Texas against fire ants.
I have tried a lot of the home-remedies with only partial results. I just checked Texas A&M’s site: http://www.extension.org/pages/34814/are-there-any-home-remedies-that-will-kill-fire-ants#.U6md5cJOU5s
A recommendation from them: “One method currently being evaluated and showing some promise as an effective home remedy is an ant mound drench using a mixture of dishwashing liquid and citrus oil.” They used 1.5 fl. oz. of Medina Orange Oil and 3 fl. oz. of Dawn Soap per gallon of water per mound. https://insects.tamu.edu/fireant/research/projects/pdf/ipmmanual08a1.pdf (Pages 4 - 8). It worked better than Amdro and Spectricide in their tests. So this new-old home remedy will be my next experiment.
Good luck with those critters!

Texas Rose

Joani said...

So sad about the tomato but you are out in the open though you do have a fence. Might just have to enclose the square that the tomatoes are in. As far as the ants, I don't know if anyone has recommended Diatomaceous earth food grade but that is what I use for the critters in my garden as well as the ants in my house. I don't know what kind of ants these are you are referring to. If they are fire ants, don't know if that will work. Good luck with continuing your garden and hoping you do get some eggplant.

Rachel @ Grow a Good Life said...

1st Man, Try to gather all your partially ripe tomatoes on the weekends when you are at the farm. They will ripen properly on the countertop. Hopefully if the sweet tomato temptation is gone the mystery critter will not return.

Practical Parsimony said...

My groundhog stood up and took a big bite from the side. I caught him in the act. Squirrels in my yard never bothered tomatoes, but now they probably will. Rabbits was my first thought.

Practical Parsimony said...

Check Snopes at snopes.com to debunk some home made ant killers, namely the cornmeal one. I wish it were effective.

I use Terro ant killer. It is at Lowe's with pesticides. Terro comes in tiny 1 oz or less bottles. It is borax, sugar, and water. I have tried to make my own from many recipes on the web, but none of them work like Terro. I have only used Terro outdoors once, but I use it all summer on the kitchen and bathroom counters and around door openings when I see ants.

To use the Terro outdoors without rain ruining it, put the Terro in a small container and cover with a larger container. Place it right on the ant trail.

1st Man said...

Do you know, this is weird, but in all the years I've been going to the farm (back when "Ma" owned it, before we did), and spending time at 2nd Family's property as well, I have NEVER seen a squirrel. That's odd. I just now thought about that. Hmm....

1st Man said...

I thought of mice but these are fairly high up (God forbid we don't have mice THAT big, ha). There are also something 2nd Family calls barn rats or field rats. That's a possibility as well.

1st Man said...

Ha, that's a great way to do it. The animals aren't going to take a chance huh? :-) No chipmunks here but still, it's frustrating isn't it? Sigh...

1st Man said...

Dang, that was probably frustrating to say the least! They probably thought it was a convenient all you can eat buffet, ha.

1st Man said...

What? Dang it! I will have to change my plan of attack. Thanks for the info!

1st Man said...

A tomato eating cat? Wow!!! Opossums, hmm, that's possible, those are at the farm. Coffee grounds? That's interesting, I might try that. I think the coffee grounds might be good for the plants anyway. Or is that roses?

1st Man said...

LOL, I really laughed about the 'betrayal' comment, ha. Cute bunny one moment, tomato eating vermin the next, ha!!!

Yes, you know all too well about fire ants. They are a scourge. I might have to try that solution, sounds good! Thanks for the link and the info!

1st Man said...

Sometimes, we can't see the forest for the trees. Thank you for that suggestion about enclosing the one raised bed. They aren't messing with the herbs and the squash has fizzled so I could just enclose the toms and the peppers/eggplant beds. That would be WAAAY easier. Then next Fall (when it's COOL) i can put the hardware cloth around the entire fenced in area.

And I've heard about diatomaceous earth, but didn't realize they had food grade version. Thanks!

1st Man said...

I wondered how well they would ripen once pulled. I will definitely do that. Thank you!

1st Man said...

Thanks, I think about snipes for political things I get, but I didn't think about it for other stuff like this.

Terro? I will check that out too. :-)

SmartAlex said...

You might want to consider putting out a pan of water somewhere nearby. Some critters will turn to tomatoes when they can't readily find drinking water. Not saying this is the case but bears mentioning.

Texan said...

Well I must admit that is some serious tomato eating going on at your place. I can't say I have had something eat a tomato like that. I did wonder if maybe you have a turtle? Those big alligator turtles maybe? I had a turtle in my garden once, finally found the thing. He didn't eat my tomatoes but he took some seriously big bite out of some other stuff before I finally found him. He wasn't a big alligator one. But given how high up those tomatoes are on your plants I am thinking it would have to be one of those. If you find him what ever you do don't just pick him up to remove him! Use a net or big scoop shovel, those babies will bite so I am told. Ants on eggplants argggg / grrrrr they do love the eggplants. I would be very, very careful about what I put in my garden to treat any bug, ants or otherwise. Given your going to eat the produce! :O) My suggestion is plant more than you need. I always plant more of anything than I need. You can share that way and hopefully still get what your wanting for yourselves.

1st Man said...

Wow, that's an interesting thought. Thanks, I will do that, can't hurt right? Thanks!!

1st Man said...

They are pretty high up, a big turtle like that would definitely make me nervous, ha. I didn't know ants loved eggplants. I'll have to remember that. That's why I didn't want to put down anything bad because it will come back to us in our food. I'll have to check out some of the natural suggestions mentioned. Though I do like your idea (and your gardens are beautiful by the way) of just planting more than we can eat and letting things progress naturally, ha. Thanks!!