Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Linda from Brighton, MI
The deer ate our tomatoes until I started spraying a deer repellent around the garden area. It kept the rabbits out, too. Also, be on the look out for the tomato hornworm. They will eat the plant from top to bottom. They are green and blend in with the stems so you really have to look hard to see them. They are pretty big though, bigger than a catepillar. They also lay their eggs on the leaves so remove anything that looks like a bunch of eggs on a leaf.
Most pests don't eat tomatoes until they are red. I once read in a gardening book that tomato plants only ripen a tomato about 50%, at which point the plant stops ripening it and it finishes ripening on its own. So I started picking tomatoes when they are orange and let them ripen off the vine. By doing this, I got lots more tomatoes, they tasted the same as if they had been ripened on the vine, and most of them didn't have any garden varmint nibbles on them.
Contrary to popular belief, tomatoes seem to ripen best in the dark. I place the orange tomatoes in a paper bag and check them every day.
Our big animal problem is squirrels. They love to pull nearly ripe tomatoes and take one bite. One squirrel even tosses the rest of the tomato at us if we are on the patio. I'd love an answer to this problem. Cayenne pepper helps until the rains come. So far our hanging planter has not produced even one flower, much less a tomato. So disappointed but think the corner is too shady.
I don't know if it will work, but we actually bought one of those hanging tomato planters and put the plant in there.. the tomatoes are just ripening now and are beautiful and because it hangs, no animals can get at it. I am amazed as i was skeptical that it would really work, but it has!
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