The first tomatoes of the season

meldy_nva(z6b VA)June 22, 2011

I bought DH an 'Early Girl' tomato plant for his b'day. Babied that thing: repotting it so it could spread its roots properly, carried it up and down steps to the patio every sunny day until Spring sprang, planted it into the garden the moment the soil was warm enough, put sweaters over it to keep it warm during the following cold spell. It flowered and set fruit and grew tomatoes. I watered it deeply and regularly during last month's dry hot days. Lovely, big tomatoes began to crowd the vine - bigger than a softball. The first of the fruit slowly began to ripen from pink, to rose, to red. Checking it last night, I decided to let the reddest fruit wait one more day: the difference between okay ripe and luscious ripe.

Okay, let's back up a bit: Somewhere I read about hanging red balls from the tomato plants as decoys; theory being that birds will peck and realize those ain't edible and then ignore the real things later. So I hung a red ball beside EG's first cluster of fruit. I don't know about the birds, but a couple squirrels got a real disgusted look when they tried to bite the plastic. Heh, heh, heh. DH just about literally ROFL watching the squirrels. That was last week, just as the first EG tomatoes turned pink. Yesterday, I added red balls to all the tomato plants, placing the balls high enough to be visible to any passing bird which might be a tomato-lover. Moved EG's ball from a foot above ground-level to waist-height, to be sure it could be seen from above.

This morning, I go out to pick the first tomato of the season, chortling in advance at how much DH will like it.

No red, ripe, luscious tomato. No pink tomatoes, either.

Saw a squirrel go over the fence, carrying something suspiciously red.

I think there's a moral: if your squirrels eat tomatoes -- leave the red balls at *their* height.

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Meldy, what a bummer!!

I have an Eearly Girl, too, but it doesn't sound anything like yours, even though it has had one medium-sized tomato for three weeks, plus a few more on the way. It started off like a house afire, partly, I thought, b/c I did something I heard on a local radio show--"put a chopped up banana peel, a Tbs. of Epsom Salts, and a crushed Tums tablet into the hole before the planting the tomato". (I used Roll Aids, b/c I didn't have Tums; I figured the calcium content was the main thing.) Those things are supposed to provide what lots of soil lacks, calcium, potassium,-- and I forget the third thing! Anyway, the plant seemed to like it, but it's slowed its growth, considerably, in the last week. Maybe our current hot weather will get it going, again.

Meldy, squirrels are such devlish little creatures; I hope you can keep them away from the rest of your tomato crop.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Oh, meldy, so sorry about the maters. I saw a tell tale round hole in my pumpkin box today, and after reading your post, I went out and tented the whole thing.
I have Early Girl and Sweet 100 in an other box and I'll try to find a way to protect the plants from the freeloaders.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 7:11PM
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I bought some tomatoes at the grocery store and baked
my first tomato pie yesterday.
Would you believe that there isn't even a tiny piece of
it left today.

I counted five of those bushy tailed little varmints in my backyard this morning. I may have to re-locate the little grey &@&^@$#&*. I wonder if you can have squirrels spayed and neutered!!!!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 9:57PM
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We don't have squirrels here (I actually miss them), but we have a host of other visitors. I planted a gift of seeds tom money maker tomatoes. I now have nice bushes of little green fruit, but nowhere near ripe. We have gone into our 90+ no rain mode till at least the next 2-3 months.
Stupid newbie question: how long should they take to ripen if now they're the size of green golf balls? The leaves are riddles with leaf miners, but otherwise have no major problems that I can see. We're going out of town the first two weeks of August and I want to EAT my toms before turning the garden over to the housesittter!
Peace Batya

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 2:55AM
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jazmynsmom(Z5 Madison-ish)

Batya, those 90+ days should hasten the ripening. You should have your fill before you go away.

I have Early Girls and various cherries on the vine, and expect ripeness in early July. If I looked closely, I'd probably see fruit on the 5 or so other varieties I have planted. I also have two big, occasionally successful, shaggy brown squirrel deterrents. They aren't out all day, but the squirrels are skittish for a good reason when they're in our yard. I'm hoping that's enough. If not, I do have 10 thriving tomato vines for just the two of us. I imagine there'll be plenty to share! ;o)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 9:33AM
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You are all talking about tomatoes ripening and mine barely have a couple of blooms. With all that rain in the spring, the ground was too soogy to plant and I had to wait.
I just hope we have a long season, last year I had the best tomatoes in October.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 8:22AM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Only blossoms here, but lots of squirrels. They really bring out the evil thoughts in me. Forget live trapping, I want to destory the fluffly little varmints in horrible ways.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 7:34AM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

I despise the little tree rats. DH traps them and takes them over the water (a creek) hoping they won't come back. They used to knock off the tulip blooms. Grrrr. They didn't eat them, they just bit them off for spite! And they used to dig up newly planted perennials because the ground was disturbed and they thought there were nuts planted. Grrrrr.

I started Big Boy and Independence Day tomato plants from seed. There are little green tomatoes on the latter, but I don't see how they are going to be ripe for the July 4 holiday next week unless they put on a spurt of growth!

And tibs, I feel the same way. When I see squirrel road kill, I silently rejoice! lol!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 10:24AM
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jazmynsmom(Z5 Madison-ish)

Since we're talking about tomatoes, I thought I'd post a recipe that I think would go (poetically) well with a plate full of big ol' tomatoes... and maybe a bowl of nuts. ;o)

Squirrel Sausage
2 feet sheep casings
2 pounds squirrel meat
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp allspice

Prepare casings. Mix ingredients and grind through the fine disk. Grind again and stuff into casings. Twist off into 2 inch links like cocktail franks. Cook by steaming or simmering for about 30 minutes.

Blue, have your husband spray paint the tails before he releases them. It will illustrate how futile the whole catch and release strategy is!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:55PM
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I was wondering how many squirrels per person. Lol, I actually found a board discussing that topic.
I'm not skinning them.

Here is a link that might be useful: How many squirrels per person, or is your mother in - law coming for dinner?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 6:58PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

I'll pass on the squirrel sausage, thank you. EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW! lol

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:54PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Love the link to how many squirrels per person. I still remember a coworker telling me how much he loved squirrel hunting. When I asked how he cooked them he replied his wife made a delicious squirrel casserole. Now I know you skin them and clean them but all I pictured was a gooey cheesy mess with bits of fur and bone. Euch.

Anybody ever eat muskrat? If you can get over the smell and the knowledge that you are eating a rodent, it is tolerable. But only tolerable.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:58PM
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