Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Quest for the Impossible

Perfection only lasts so long in the garden. The beautiful bloom fades. The slugs invade. The hail shreds your leaves. The heavy winds knock down your dill heads. Chipmunks eat your ripening tomatoes. Sigh. Today I had more bad gardening news.

The first was the return of the chipmunk. He has been getting bolder. I went out to check my tomatoes this morning. The Orange Blossom tomatoes had previously set 7 tomatoes. The chipmunk ate part of one yesterday. Well he obviously enjoyed it. Today there were only 5 tomatoes left on the vine. Arrggg. They weren't even close to ripe yet. He picked a green one and totally made off with it. Not a shred of evidence left. So I picked the two that were blushing yellow. They will have to ripen in my kitchen. I'm crossing my fingers for the last three. At least they are higher up on the vine. Maybe he will overlook them. Then I found a half eaten green cherry tomato lying on the ground. He obviously liked the Orange Blossoms better since he took the whole thing.

But he still wasn't satisfied. He ate one of my squash blossoms. It was a female blossom. I guess I can't complain too much since I'm getting way too many zucchini anyway. Tomorrow I'll probably know if it had time to set. I may get fruit regardless. He also took a small bite out of an unset cucumber. No big loss. Most of those don't end up setting anyway. Then for his next trick I got a good laugh. I can't imagine he liked his treat. He took a bite out of one of my super chili peppers. These have the heat of a cayenne pepper. Most adult humans can't handle that straight up.

With so many bites out of so many plants, I'm thinking he liked his taste of ripe tomato yesterday and he is looking for more. Maybe the taste of pepper will scare him away, but I doubt it. I'm hoping not to have a war with the little guy, but I might have to.

That was just the first of the bad news. The second was the vine borers. That one vine borer I caught previously did indeed lay eggs on my pumpkin. I noticed that my pumpkin was wilting in the heat this afternoon even though we have had plenty of rain. That is a sure sign of borers. Since they live inside the vine, you have to find out where they are. They leave telltale holes and frass outside the holes. Sometimes you can see the side of the vine with a yellow spot on it. So I took my sharpest knife and carefully split open the vine near their holes, trying to stay straight and not crosscut the stem. I pulled out several of the little worms.

Then I tried to repair the damage. I wrapped the stem up to protect it. One of the slits was a good six inches and had a couple of them inside. I recently made a circle skirt out of dark green cotton, so I thought it a good color for the bandages. Now I pray I got them all and the damage to the stem isn't too severe.

Remember yesterday when I talked about gardening insanity and doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I do that too many times. I know not to plant pumpkins here. They never live. It is an impossible quest. But it is so hard when my daughter asks for pumpkins to say no. The mini pumpkins sometimes work. They can set their fruit quickly and will often make one or two, but real pumpkins just aren't worth trying. Next year - butternut squash.


  1. That is too funny, not that he made off with so much of your garden. The part about the pepper is funny! I hope it scares him away for good.

  2. Darn that chipmunk! Grr.. He's getting all your goodies. Have you thought of putting a net around your tomatoes to protect them from the critters? Or is he too small and will get through that.

  3. I had a good laugh at his expense too. It lightened up the mood after seeing my other get stolen.

    In bad years I have wrapped the tomato cages in bird netting. It slows them down. In fact it actually killed one once when it got tangled in the netting. I didn't find the poor thing until after I got back from vacation. Not what I was going for with it.

  4. Oh my he is enjoying your garden now isn't he. I'm so sorry for your tomatoes. These little critters think we put our gardens in just for them don't they??

    I'm sorry about your pumpkins too. For some reason the squash borers always freak me out. They sound so disgusting. I've never dealt with them before and I hope I never have to.