Pets and wild animals love a healthy tomato garden. Not only is the moist soil a fun place for dogs to dig, the plants themselves provide a source of nutrition for your neighborhood squirrels, rabbits, and birds. If you leave your tomatoes without adequate protection, your harvest is likely to be a meager one.
Thus, if you have pets or wild animals in your area that could inadvertently damage your tomato plants, it is important to take steps ahead of time to protect them. Thus, you can ensure that your tomatoes have the opportunity to flourish unharmed.
1. Grow Your Tomatoes Out of Reach
A tomato plant is extremely versatile and will grow well under a variety of circumstances. You can choose to grow tomatoes in your yard or in containers. Container gardening is growing in popularity for those who do not have the necessary space to plant a standard garden.
Container gardening also permits gardeners to grow their tomato plants in an area that is not accessible by animals. If your main concern is keeping your dog or cat out of your tomato plants, you may consider growing them in pots on a porch or balcony that your pets cannot reach.
If you happen to have a screened in porch, you may grow your tomatoes in pots outdoors during the day and bring them into the screened in area overnight. This keeps the plants safe while you sleep, and your pets roam the yard without supervision.
If wild animals are your main problem, you can purchase special containers for hanging plants that will prevent wild animals, such as squirrels and birds, from being able to reach the plants themselves. These containers consist of a pot for the plants and a protective netting.
You may then hang your tomato pot on a porch, balcony, or overhang, and place the netting over the top of the plant. The netting prevents squirrels and birds from being able to feast on your hard work. It can also prevent large insects from damaging the tomato plants.
2. Fence In Your Tomato Crop
To provide modest protection for each individual plant, you may consider wrapping the plants in chicken wire. Chicken wire is most often used to keep chickens in a coop, but it works equally well for keeping pests out of your tomatoes.
An added benefit of chicken wire is that it provides a support system for taller tomato plants and prevents them from sagging or worse – falling over. If you opt to surround your tomatoes with chicken wire, you should also consider placing a dome made of the wire over the top of each tomato plant. This prevents pests, such as birds, from attacking the plants from above.
A small vinyl fence can be very effective in keeping larger animals away from your garden. You can purchase vinyl garden fencing at your local home improvement store. For the pet owner with a small garden, vinyl fencing is a must. Easily installed and reasonably priced, vinyl garden fencing comes in a variety of heights to suit any gardener’s needs.
An added benefit of vinyl fencing is that it is decorative. You can purchase the fence in any color and style to match your home. Because many individuals opt to set up a vinyl garden fence solely for decoration, it won’t be immediately apparent to your guests that you are having problems with animals getting into your tomato garden.
All your guests will see is a cozy and inviting garden area full of healthy, unmolested tomatoes.
3. Use a Deterrent Spray
Animals that raid your tomato crop can be deterred by a variety of different protective sprays. These sprays don’t harm your tomatoes but are unpalatable for critters who may attempt to devour your plants. You can purchase a spray deterrent at your local retail store or make one yourself at home out of hot pepper juice and water.
To send small pests packing, consider a urine deterrent. When placed around your tomato plants, urine deterrents lead smaller pests to believe that a bigger predator is lurking just around the corner. Squirrels and rabbits won’t take the time to make a meal out of your tomatoes if they believes that a predator is nearby waiting to make a meal out of them.
It is important to remember that raising tomatoes is never an exact science. What may work to deter some animals won’t work on others. Try different methods separately and together to find what works best for your situation.
Once you find a solution to the problem, you can put it into practice every year to ensure that you have an ample tomato crop that is permitted to grow and flourish without being ravaged by wild and domesticated animals.
Article by Ciele Edward, who is a freelance writer currently living in Georgia. She enjoys container gardening and experimenting with different tomato varieties.