War of the Tomatoes: Fortifications of ‘17
After the loss of tomatoes in the summer of 2016, I brooded over the squirrel’s victory and plotted for my revenge. I was determined to have a garden and the fruit of my labors, keeping them out of my foes paws. How to proceed, that was the challenge.
As the summer of 2016 changed to fall, we started getting rain, lots and lots of rain. The drought finally broke in our area, and I felt some despair as I saw all of the new growth. I knew that my garden would need to stand against an onslaught of new squirrels, hungrily looking for fresh food for their conquests.
When 2017 started the rain continued to fall and each day I would see new squirrels and rabbits, their numbers growing from the bounty of plant life. My garden bed stood empty, waiting for new life but I would not condemn it to a short, brutal life, robbed of tomatoes by the wild life population around our house.
After mulling on this problem all winter, I realized I needed help in order to safeguard the garden. I turned to my husband for help and he agreed to listen. I described my plans for protecting the plants and he agreed that it might work. Off we went to Home Depot, and bought wood, chicken wire, and staples. I measured and marked the wood and my husband cut it during the next week. On Saturday, we worked together and assembled a cage to place over our raised garden bed. The structure was fragile, yet I had hope it would keep out the tomato stealers.
I felt triumphant as we first placed the cube over the garden and it seemed to seal the area. There were a few gaps, my husband volunteered to fill those and add hinges to allow easier lifting of the cage. The final touch was a clasp with a padlock in it. We both laughed at the silliness of locking the plants away from the squirrels but a part of me wondered if they might find some way around our protection.
The next weekend, we went to pick out the tomato plants that would live within our protected garden. I carefully placed them and closed the cage, hoping for the best. I topped things off with a protective covering that shaded the plants from too much sun.
It is now two months later and our work is paying off. The tomato plants have done well in the cage, they are larger than I expected. They have extra support with the wire walls and lean into them for extra support. My husband picked the first ripe tomato last week. Since he has been caring for the plants, I said he should have the first tomato and he enjoyed tomato and cheese sandwiches for a few days. There are more tomatoes ripening and I have not found any partially eaten green tomatoes, left to mock me. For now, we have won a battle and have plans for continuing to build our garden.