July 30, 2007

The Possum Strikes Again!

Last night, my dog was growling at the backyard window during most of the night and I heard rustling and scraping noises. In the morning, I surveyed my tomato patch and sure enough, the possum had struck again. All of the ripe tomatoes were gone and the tomato plants were disturbed. Also, my single ripening corno de toro gallo pepper had been eaten, with only the seed mass left on the plant. My other pepper plants are either dead or dying. The corno de toro rosso was entirely eaten, stalks and all and the blushing beauty peppers that I had nursed through an entire winter are gone as well. The bed is a total loss.

I have not done any further work to this bed, but once my work schedule permits me, I'm going to remove all the tomato plants. They are starting to naturally die back now that their fruit has ripened and probably wouldn't be producing more than another month or two anyway. The heirloom tomatoes that I had selected had been beautiful. Large, meaty and perfect for making sauce. I am sorry that I will not get a chance to sample them this year. There must be a better way to grow tomatoes so that I don't have this sort of losses to contend with. I will have to do research this winter to discover a safer way to grow tomatoes and sweet bell peppers.

July 26, 2007

More Tomatoes Lost

When I went out to water my plants this afternoon, I was stunned to see that three more of my tomatoes were half eaten. Their pulpy mess was left on the vine to my disgust. The possum strikes again! I am beginning to see that I will not be able to harvest a single ripe tomato from my plants this year. The possum leaves the green ones behind, but as soon as the tomatoes are half ripe, it strikes again. There were two tomatoes left untouched, but I'm sure that this evening that they will be gone too. My idea of making homemade spaghetti sauce with garden tomatoes is going up in smoke.

I worked so hard to keep my produce from the critters of the area, but this new animal is hard to detain. At least it seems to be leaving my peppers and chiles alone...although if the possum ever ate one of my scotch bonnets, it would probably never touch a red fruit again! LOL I used galvanized mesh under the beds to keep the moles out, but what do I do to keep an animal out that can climb over fences and up trees? The only thing that I can think to do is either create a metal mesh over the plants, or try hanging my tomatoes in baskets next year, perhaps growing them upside down? Maybe this will be my last year of growing tomatoes? I'm simply not sure what to do.

July 24, 2007

Possum Woes

Summertime is always glorious for my chile plants. They thrive in the heat and lack of water and produce beautiful pods for my family to eat. The one I have pictured in this post is a "fish chile". It is the only variegated chile pepper that I know of and even the chiles have little white stripes. I haven't sampled a pod yet, but I'm eager to do so. This is one of my overwintered chiles and last year the plant never produced a single pod. I think that this year it has found itself and is going to surprise me.

I've been having a little trouble with theft in my garden over the past several weeks. The tomatoes and red bell peppers are being stolen by local possums. I've spoken to several of my neighbors, some as far away as five or six blocks and universally, everyone is complaining about losing their garden produce to the critters. My Red Corno de Toro was clipped to the ground by a possum, the three peppers on it taken. I am not sure if the plant is going to recover or not, but I'm very disappointed since this was one of my overwintered chiles from last year and I've had it a long time. At least it is a plant that I can replace next spring if need be, but I was looking forward to those sweet peppers this year. The yellow corno de toro also has pods and one is about ready to harvest. So far the animals have not been taking yellow colored tomatoes and peppers, so I have hope of actually getting to taste one of these peppers in my dinner this week. My gypsy frying peppers are starting to turn red and are in a section of my garden that the possums have left untouched, that might be what I use for the fajatas. Yellow and red peppers with onions, nothing is better.

My yellow tomatoes thus far have been untouched by the critters and I am starting to see two or three ripe fruits on the vine. Once I have enough, I'm going to turn them into a golden marinara sauce in my crockpot. My husband is a little uneasy about yellow spaghetti sauce, but I have assured him that the flavor is going to be well worth it. He's promised to give it a try.