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Birds had always beaten me to my ripe tomatoes, forcing me to pick them green. I found a simple yet effective solution; light-weight, red, plastic balls! When a tomato begins to ripen, hang a red ball directly on the plant next to it (it needs to be very light weight). The bird will peck at the bright red ball instead of the tomato. When you pick the tomato, move the red ball near the next tomato to be picked.
If you have a hard time finding the red balls, go to www.materballs.com
By rex from Canyon Lake, TX
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Birds are eating our tomatoes before they ripen, we have net over the plants, but no help. Is there something else we can do?
Hardiness Zone: 9a
By nancy from Beaumont,TX
You could try hanging toy rubber snakes on your plants. They help, but then you or someone else may forget they are there, and have a whole different set of problems!
Are you sure the birds are eating the tomatoes? Could it be bugs and in the birds are coming in to eat the bugs, if it is the birds they may be going after the moisture in the tomatoes, put out several shallow bowls of water and see if that helps.
My BirdBusta clip cannot protect the plants, but it can be used with a paper cup (attached, and used sideways) to hide the tomatoes from birds - and of course, most other fruit. The clips cost about 75 cents each, and can be used many times through a season. I lost 3 tomatoes from about 230 tomatoes last season.
Peter M. Melbourne, Australia
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Bobbie from Monroe, MI
Another strategy is to harvest your tomatoes while they are still a greenish-pink color and let them ripen at room temperature. You can also place them in a cardboard box in single layers separated by newspaper (up to 3 layers) and slide them under your bed or store them in a dark closet. It will take them a little longer to ripen this way, but it will also extend your harvest.
If you're certain it's the birds eating the tomatoes, Home Depot carries a product called "bird netting". It's a very lightweight black nylon net. My garden has bush bunnies (saw the droppings) that ate my strawberries, so I tented a fine wire mesh fencing over one and some cheesecloth over the other. I'm waiting to see if either works.
I didn't know about birds eating tomatoes. I just re-planted seedlings on my patio, which is a hangout for Scrub jays, Black Phoebes, Mourning Doves, and Robins. I'd love to know if you try the netting and how it works. (07/25/2006)
You might try hanging red Christmas bulbs on plants. The birds will peck them thinking they are the tomatoes. They won't like that kind of tomato and will leave them alone. (07/26/2006)
You could also try hanging old CDs on fishing line on the plants or above them. They don't like the reflections from the light on them. (07/26/2006)
For protection, you can use a BirdBusta(R) clip with a paper cup covering the tomato.
See www.birdbusta.com . (12/10/2006)
By Peter M.
I have had some success using a lunch size paper bag. I put the tomato in the bag just as it is turning pink and tighten the bag at the end to hold it on stem. The tomato will continue to vine ripen in the bag. (07/23/2007)
Take the tape out of a old VHS or a cassette, put up stakes at the end of the row and one in the middle, and string up the tape over the plants. Birds absolutely will not bother. I read this years ago, and do it every year. After they get some growth on them, you can take the tape down. Birds only like tender young plants. (05/20/2008)