Container Crop Loss, or Tomatoes and Rats Revisited
Mother’s Day did not start out well for me.
When I got up, Dale said, “Something got one of the tomato plants last night.”
I went out to the party deck and sure enough, two of the three roma tomato stalks had been sheared off almost at the base.
When I wrote about tomatoes and rats a couple of weeks ago, I was writing a general update on what was happening on the deck, I didn’t necessarily think the rat would eat at the tomato plants, but now I’m not so sure.
We’ve been wondering what has been attracting rats up on our deck since we don’t keep dog food or anything else out there.
One night last week, I took Molly and Dakota out for their before bed potty excursion and Molly immediately started chasing a rat on the deck.
The icky creature got away from her and ran up the flower stand. In Molly’s younger years, she would have caught and killed it. She did swallow a tiny mouse whole once that got into The Belle Writer’s Studio. She saw me coming for it, and the last I heard of that mouse was it squeaking as she swallowed!
I walked over, trying to get Molly away from the rat on the plant stand, and the rodent just sat on a shelf looking at me. I called for Dale to bait the Rat Zappers and bring them out. We sat them both by the plant stand and the next morning….nothing. We’ve caught plenty of small mice in the zappers since purchasing them, but no rats.
My aunt, who lives down our road, said she caught two rats in her Rat Zappers in her basement just last week. She’s also had problems with something eating her tomatoes at the base of the stalk and said she saw baby rabbits as the culprits.
I checked online and read some reports that rats, squirrels and rabbits might do this. Deer can too, although they typically eat the plant. In our case, the stalks were left behind untouched.
On Sunday night, I brushed the dogs to use their hair and also took human hair from our brushes, placing both in the containers, hoping the scent would scare off anything that tried a second run at the two remaining plants. Nothing came back on Sunday night.
The whole purpose of container gardening is to try to keep the critters from decimating my crop. It’s so frustrating to have fruit on the vine and have them destroyed.
I guess I will be buying another roma tomato plant.
What do you think readers? Do rats do this type of damage to plants or do you think it is something else?