Something is Eating the Leaves of My Plants

Q: Something is eating my tomato plants, leaves, stems, stalk and all right down to ground. What could it be and how can I prevent it? I do live 10 miles from town.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

br8769 from NM

A: br8769,

It sounds like either rabbits or deer are munching on your tomatoes. Since by now they have acquired a taste for tender young tomato plants, if you plan on replanting some tomatoes, you're going to need to offer the new plants some good protection or risk running into the same frustration.

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I would recommend constructing small cages made out of chicken wire. Rolls of it are readily available at home stores or farm supply stores, it's inexpensive and you can always find plenty of uses for it around the garden. If you use regular tomato cages already, simply wrap the wire around the frame of the existing cages and fasten it together with baggy ties or florists wire. Make sure you cut a piece to cover the top, too.

If you don't want to spring for chicken wire, there are any number of inexpensive "motion" scare tactics to try (attaching streamers, pie tins, plastic bags, etc. to nearby objects), but bear in mind that animals tend to get desensitized to these fairly quickly and if they are really hungry when they wander into your garden, they might take a second look, but they aren't likely to be slowed down for long.

Rabbits and deer also respond negatively to strong scents, especially of predators. You can try sprinkling a little blood meal around your plants, or spraying them with a mixture containing 1 rotten egg, 6 to 8 drops of Tabasco sauce, 1 clove of crushed garlic and 1 quart of water. Smelly deterrents like this will need to be reapplied after rain.

A final idea, one that in my opinion is often under utilized, is row covers. Not only do they keep out deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds, but they also keep out insects. They are a minimal investment and can be used year after year. Scour garage sales for old hulas hoops to use as stabilizers.

Good luck!
Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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May 4, 20060 found this helpful

I HAD THAT PROBLEM ONE YEAR TURNED OUT TO BE BIRDS(STARLINGS). I CUT A OLD FAN BELT AND THREW IN GARDEN TO LOOK LIKE A SNAKE. ALSO I FILLED A PLASTIC SHOPPPING BAG WITH AIR TIED SHUT AND STUCK IT ON A STICK IN GARDEN.I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR 4 YEARS NO PROBLEMS.

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May 17, 20060 found this helpful

This is the 3rd year for my herb garden. I've never had anything eat my plants before this year. My pepper plants which is right beside my basil have hole all over all the leaves. I've never seen birds in my herb garden....or squirrels for that matter. Isn't it to early for snails? Any ideas?

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June 13, 20060 found this helpful

Something is eating at our Radishes, seems like they (*bugs) like the red skin on them, perhaps it only seems so as the radishes are not fully grown - would anyone know what this could be and what to do about it.

Thanks, from Sigga, zone 6

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June 24, 20060 found this helpful

Use mothballs in your garden, it keeps away squirrels, rabbits, etc.

I have tried it, it works!

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May 14, 20080 found this helpful

Any suggestions for muskrats or geese eating hosta?

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June 27, 2005 Flag
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I'm new at container gardening. I've noticed that something is eating the leaves of my plants! I have basil, and my neighbors have pepper plants -- both with the leaves eaten. I also have some flowers that the leaves are being eaten off of. Cucumber leaves, too! Does anyone know what could be doing this? What can I do to stop it?

Meari

Answers:
Snails 06/27/2005
Sounds like snails, use snail bait but only if pets can't get into it.
By (Guest Post)
Squirrels? 06/27/2005
Could it be a squirrel? A friend caught a squirrel digging up her potted plants and a relative had a squirrel eat just a few bites of several apples on a apple tree and leave the rest of the half eaten fruit to rot. How frustrating!
By Cheryl from Missouri (Guest Post)
Soap and Water 06/27/2005
You can try making a mixture of hand dishwashing soap with water and spraying it on the tops and bottoms of the plant's leaves. The mixture doesn't have to be really strong, just soapy and dissolved well. Might have to repeat daily. Works for our hibiscus plants.
By kidsNclutter
Slugs and Snails 06/28/2005
Snails and slugs were eating at my radishes. I placed salt all around the outside of the container. It kills them. I also add tin foil around the edge inside the planters. I dare anyone to eat my veggie leaves now. Picking the bugs off during the dark of night also works, if you are awake during the night. Good luck.
By kittsparks1 (Guest Post)

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