I may have spoken once or twice about the depredations of squirrels. Magnolia blooms. Bedding-out plants in balcony flower pots. Tulip bulbs. Service-berry tree and flaming-bush berries. Bird seed in squirrel-proof feeders. But the depredatory nature of the neighbourhood squirrels has risen to new heights; their depredation has sunk to new lows; their agile depredaciousness seemingly knows no bounds.

Squirrel hanging by one paw from a bird feeder

In the Before Time, our travel schedule meant that vegetable gardening was out of the question. (Whew!) But in Covid Times, when a friend offered a tomato plant, I took it without question. Turns out, I should have asked one question.

Do squirrels like tomatoes?

Actually, no, that’s not the question. Liking don’t come into it.

Do squirrels rip hard green tomatoes off the plant,
take one bite, spit it out,
and leave the ruined/rejected tomato
to rot in the garden?
Again and again,
as long as there are fruits on the vine?

Yes. Yes they do.

But in the late fall, a squirrel’s fancy turns to something other than tomatoes. (What? Don’t know. Don’t care. It seems not to reside in my garden.) Thus it was that I rescued two small and dark-green tomatoes from the vine as part of the fall yard clean-up. And as these literally hard cases sat on my counter this past week, they underwent some sort of change. Faint streaks of red-brown have emerged alongside the dark green; one part of one is now slightly squishy to the touch.

width="993"Are they ripening? Maybe.

Are they rotting without ever ripening – a “direct from vine to compost bag” pipeline? Maybe more likely.

We shall see.


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8 Responses to Spared

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Joan used to tell me that tomatoes should be picked when still slightly green (but still riper than yours!) and brought inside to ripen fully. There was something about wrapping in newspaper too, but maybe that was about some other plant. After Joan’s death, I decided I had no heart for vegetable gardening anymore, so I don’t have any tomatoes to try her advice on.
    Nice of that squirrel to pose for you. We never used to have squirrels in the Okanagan but they have arrived as an invasive species, like knapweed and zebra mussels.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Your response reminded me to Google it – and the sensei says to put them in a paper bag, where the ethylene they emit will ripen them. We’ll see. As for that squirrel, on balance (no puns intended) I figure he owes me.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Squirrels are people too! Just trying, as all things do, to survive.
    Enjoy their depredations!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom W – They’re not people, they’re rodents with good PR! But I might as well enjoy their depredations – I sure haven’t found a way to stop them. And at least I get an occasional post out of them . . .

  3. I know only a little about squirrels because we have so many other depredators aimed at our gardens, such as rabbits, deer, a rare wandering calf or cow, caterpillars, beetles, birds, and slugs. However, I know a thing or two about tomatoes. If you want to ripen those last, pre-frost green tomatoes, they will ripen indoors best if you leave them on part of the vine, simply hanging the vine in a closed porch or other above-freezing spot. I have noticed that even store tomatoes, when sold attached to a branch of vine, last longer. A tomato with a bruise or other type of damage is more likely to continue to rot indoors. However, even without vines and packed into two large cartons, three-quarters of the two pecks (one half-bushel) of Roma tomatoes that I bought in a rush last fall and neglected for two weeks (perhaps longer) were fit to preserve.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – It’s good to know they’re pretty resilient. I’d already cleared away the vine, so that option was gone, but I have found a paper bag. One continues to show signs of changing colour; the other seems to be settled into being green.

  4. Ian Hepher says:

    I think I’d opt for fried green tomatoes, to eliminate the worry about ripening.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ian – 🙂 Not a bad idea. I’ve never cooked them and don’t know How Green is Too Green. If we find a way to protect more tomatoes next year, I’ll have to look into that.

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