Feed Them to Assorted Mammalian Creatures

Eggplant Carnage

My first response is a loud string of expletives followed by a very long and drawn, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

tomato_bite.jpg
    ‘Black Cherry’ tomato with chunk extraction. Oh the humanity.

A mysterious mammalian creature has been visiting the rooftop deck and taking nibbles out of random produce. We think it may be an opposum this time since one has been spotted climbing the fire escape. I barely broke a sweat over the cucumber left on the vine intact but with tooth imprints, and the assorted tomatoes didn’t freak me out because there are lots more to go around. The cherry sweet peppers were annoying but there is still time for more so I’ve accepted the loss gracefully. But dammit, I have been nurturing that single, perfect ‘Thai Long Green’ eggplant all summer. It was so perfect, and green. WHY!! I don’t even like eggplant. It makes my mouth itch. What bothers me is being robbed of that moment when I can cradle the fruits of my labor lovingly in my arms and capture that moment forever on film… or a digital file. There will be no beautiful ‘Thai Long Green’ eggplant to hold up against the clouds like a tiny UFO. Not this month anyway. There are two more microscopic fruits on the plant that may make it to full-size before the cold sets in.

flyingtomato.jpg
    ‘Golden Delight’ Tomato

I can’t tell you how many times this year I have advised fellow gardeners to accept a certain percentage of loss to our fellow mammalian creatures. We share space with them and have to expect that our tasty homegrown goods are going to be attractive. On the best of days I think of it as doing my part to keep city life alive. While finding my beautiful ‘Thai Long Green’ eggplant half discarded on the fire escape makes my blood boil, spotting a ‘possom scurrying across a city street at night is an exciting surprise. I just wish they’d take the whole thing! It would make me feel a whole lot better about the loss. A half-eaten tomato reeks of a “Yeah, I don’t really care for this one” attitude.

Eggplant Carnage
    My neighbor suggested we send the half-eaten fruit into some kind of CSI-type lab for bite mark analysis.

In the end I know that the best thing to do is just move the plant. My experience has shown that this one is opportunistic and only goes for veggies hanging out in the open. In all cases the fruit was exposed to a railing or like in the case of the eggplant, the entire pot was sitting out on it’s own. When I move the plant into a cluster of other plants the plundering stops. There will be no revenge or attempts to deter the creature with sprays or sprinkled magic powders.

But I will move that eggplant pot with a lot of authority and a very firm hand!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Feed Them to Assorted Mammalian Creatures

  1. Gayla – I know how you feel…I have yet to taste a red pepper I have tried to grow them for 3 years now and THIS year an Alice-in-Wonderland megapillar ate my peppers! At least if its a furry animal eating you can try bitter apple spray from the pet store or cayenne pepper to discourage him…

    In sympathy

    =B0(

  2. That looks like what the squirrels did to my eggplant last year. It would make it less bad if they would at least CLEAN THEIR PLATES instead of taking one bite from everything!!!

  3. I feel ya Gayla. I once had a squirrel chew through my one prized cucumber plant at the bottom. I was so upset that I cried. And thus a line was drawn in the sand from that day forward squirrels were no longer cute. They were vermin.

    I actually saved the plant with – get this, some aloe gel and a bandaide. I didn’t get a lot of cucumbers, but I got some.

    Last year we live trapped the squirrel that was taking bites out of ,y beloved tomatoes, but it came back in about 2 weeks. Then I read that they only go after tomatoes for the water, and if you put out a water dish in your garden, they leave ‘em alone. Miraculously, it’s worked so far this year. Not a nibble. I wonder if something similar would work with Opossum?

  4. Gayla, sorry about your veggie pillaging!

    I think the squirrels in my backyard are unionized and working together. I have hanging strawberry plants that are tented with chicken-wire-ish stuff, but they’ve gotten around that by biting through the holes in the wire, and then leaving the berry. It’s all very tragic.

    Cheers,
    Maia

  5. Maia: Do you happen to live in the Annex area of Toronto? I have discovered that those squirrels are a super breed that have no fear and will eat through anything.

  6. Putting a rubber snake in along with your plants helps,but you have to make sure to move it every few days.

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