Squirrels, chipmunks and file tail rats be gone

By TIM BEELAND,

It’s not like it’s breaking news or anything, but the old tomato crop ain’t doing real good again this year at the Beeland house. I don’t really even care any more. If I did, but I don’t, I suppose I’d try a little harder to cultivate, water and fertilize. Well we haven’t really had to worry about that watering part this year.
Perhaps that is the problem.
This year I’ve got one real nice, lush, container garden that the tomato hook worms tried to destroy, but I won out in the end. It has produced lots of tomatoes. The problem seems to be that I selected the wrong variety of heirlooms. I like the real flavorful, acidy kind of tomatoes and these are the real mild, less flavorful ones.
My fault, I know!
The plants in that garden are about seven feet tall — would be taller but I stuck them with some bamboo (of which I have an excess) that was not quite mature and it rotted in the rain not long after I had tied the plants up. I had to re-stick. By that time the plants had flopped over and never stood back up as tall as they once were.
Today they have outgrown the second round of bamboo sticking and are kind of raining — a bad, bad choice of words — back down toward the ground. I can, however, stand on the kitchen porch, next to which they are planted, and harvest from the top. I can’t reach the top from the ground.
I suppose I should be proud of the plants and the abundant harvest, but I do wish they had more flavor.
The other garden if full of spindly plants that must have just been bad to start with. They came in those little plastic six pack holders and have been very slow to grow. I should have just spent a little more money and purchased some larger, healthier plants.
That garden is my lay down garden. I call it that because I didn’t get around to sticking the plants this year due mainly to all the rain — not because I was laying down on the job.
Then on the Fourth of July my wife and mom and dad and I were out riding the back roads of Scott County and somehow the subject of tomato gardens came up. Mom said my great granddaddy, I think, never stuck his tomatoes. He just let them run all over the ground.
Sounded like a plan to me!
He must have known something I don’t.
Mine are running all over the ground, and have put on a good many tomatoes, but they rot before they ripen. I’m guessing the ground is too wet — that rain got me again.
It must have been a real dry summer when Daddy Jim’s plants were running around in his lay down garden.
In the jalapeno pepper department, well, there really isn’t a jalapeno pepper department, just three or four struggling jalapeno pepper plants.
I’m not sure what happened there except maybe bad plants again. I’ve been known to keep jalapeno plants alive and producing from year to year to year.
Not this year.
Three of my plants are still less than a foot tall and have yet to put on a single pepper. They’ve been planted since April so I don’t recon they gonna make.
On the bright side of things, the fellow over at the Friday Farmer’s Market next to Farm Bureau in Forest is having much better luck than me, so I’ll continue to eat bought tomatoes — just not store bought!
Guess that shopping at home really is the best way to go when it comes to most anything, and especially fresh tomatoes. Unless, that is, you know somebody that stuck all theirs, planted the right kind, and are wanting to give away a bucket or two.
Things could be worse. Things could always be worse, couldn’t they?
Over at my dad’s house in Newton he’s pretty much given up. Seems the squirrels and chipmunks and a big ole rat have taken over his place. He’s tried trapping and relocating but that isn’t working.
Giving up seems to be working!
For the longest time he was trying to figure out what was eating his onions. Every time he would pull some of the onion sets up to dry, they would disappear over night. The ones in the ground were fine but the other’s would be gone. Every one of them, every part of them — gone.
Finally he set his trap — with onions of course — and found out that the culprit was one of those big old rats with the tail like a file. Needless to say that is no longer the problem at his house. Plus, he gave up.
One would think — and I think everyone would agree here — that squirrels and chipmunks and especially file tail rats would leave an 84-year-old man well enough alone.
Well they don’t!

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