anatomy of a garden

i love home grown tomatoes. and i will go to great lengths to have them.

over the past 15 years, i have kept a little garden next to our garage. tomatoes - big boys are my favorite type - a smattering of herbs and heaps and bundles of basil. and i mean a LOT of basil.

sometimes i come out to the garden and just smell things.......a whiff of sage and i'm back in greece.

but in the past 5 years, i've slowly lost a battle.

with squirrels.

over the past 3 summers, they've completely stripped my tomato crop. i've tried everything - asking them nicely, pleading with them. laying down strips of duct tape (to which baby possums and birds would get stuck on, not squirrels) spraying the plants with a noxious mixture of rotten egg, capiscum and detergent, bird netting---nothing worked. whenever i would come out to check on my plants, they would leave me a calling card of rodent horror: a green tomato, balanced ever so elegantly on the fence ledge. with one bite taken out of it.

it gets hot here in july and they are thirsty, so my garden plot has become their water fountain.

but no longer, my friends - for i have a secret weapon in this newest of rodent wars:

a tomato cage!!!

one day i was wandering around home depot and ran into a carpenter friend and told him of my woes. within a matter of minutes he sketched out a plan, pointed out supplies and the tomato cage was born.

step one: assemble plywood and chicken wire in garage

step two: move out into driveway to assemble panels

step three: build brick foundation 3 layers deep (to keep squirrels from burrowing under) and place structure on top

step four: plant arugula and buttercrunch lettuce from seed and the rest: japanese eggplant, red peppers,  tomatoes and loads of herbs, from seedlings........

step five: deal with neighbor who is accusing me of property creep. 

step six: check plat plan and realize, because of the new tomato cage, this season my arugula was accidentally planted a few centimeters over on his land

step seven: now that the squirrels are not a problem but my neighbor potentially is ---

 extend a peace offering in the form of my first tomatoes of the season along with a bushel of basil. 

hey - beats an olive branch in my opinion!
anyway, green thumbs and fingers alike are crossed -- will let you know how this works ;-)


p.s..... as my dad has always told me: squirrels are just rats with good p.r.   ;-)


  1. amanda,

    you are so clever (and so is your friend)! those squirrels are going to have to move on to other pastures. it's too bad though you can't plant a little garden just for them so they'll leave yours alone. but i know it doesn't work that way.
    i can't wait to see how your garden grows!
    xo lori

  2. I love my veggie garden, too! With me it is the fight against monster slugs who bite into everything they see, thus spoiling it for me (don`t care for radishes and strawberries with slug saliva!). I planted onions next to the strawberries, even the Schneckenschreck (slug`s fright) which my grandson gave me, but I can hear them coarsely laughing under the leaves! So I`ll go back to my chemical mace! Sorry guys, you asked for it.
    Your new tomato villa looks fantastic! Clever neighbour!

  3. What an excellent idea!!! And gosh, I think your neighbor is getting an excellent deal. Fresh produce without having to lift a finger ;-)

    I hope you'll share photos later this summer. A fresh tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, a tiny sprinkle of salt, a bit of mozzarella, a little basil... Sigh.

  4. I thought the samething when I read your post and then I saw that you had enclosed your garden. That is the best possible option against squirrels, which I love by the way. It's that little tail, tugs at your heart every time.

  5. Neighbours can be a problem. The man at the back once complained that our cherry branches towering over his roof were dropping cherries and bunging up his gutters. I sympathised and told him he could have all the cherries he could pick from his side. Sorted. (I'm not quite as generous as that sounds as I can't reach those branches anyway!)

  6. Lori - i never thought of that-planting a garden just for them....but then that's what they think i've been doing all along - hehe!!

    do you have squirrels in Cal? i seem to only remember those cute little chipmunk guys....! but of course you have bigger critter worries with bobcats up on the mountain trails, right?

    thanks dear, and will definitely keep you posted on how the garden grows....keeping fingers crossed they haven't figured out how to use wirecutters yet ☺


    Angela - you have me beat with those slugs, my friend - i would think those are far worse than my little squirrel problem. and i would also think if they had a Schneckenschrek placed in their path they would immediately cease and desist (LOVE the name of that onion - slug's fright - where is squirrel's fright when i need it!!)

    oh i hate that when they are laughing at you under the leaves...mine were always looking down on me from the garage roof and laughing when i showed up only to see they had stripped my crop clean..

    p.s. thanks to you, tomato villa is now officially the new name of my tomato cage ♡


    thanks japra - i will update the tomato villa and crop as the summer progress - and yes - cannot wait for the first salad caprese of the season♡

    p.s how's the move going? wondering if it would be easier to grow tomatoes in England or the Netherlands??


    Yoli - agreed - as much as i hate what the little buggers do, could not bring myself to trap them....the way you feel about squirrels is how i feel when i see chipmunks -- to me, they are rodents with even better PR!!


    Dumdad - smart resolution with the neighbor! did he have to crawl out on his roof to retrieve his share of the cherry crop from his gutters?

    (wouldn't you LOVE to have a video of him doing that.....!)

  7. Haha, glad you like the name. That`s what we called ours in our former home (here we haven`t got one). I wonder if you found heiko`s blog - Path to self sufficiency. He plants and grows EVERYTHING, in Italy. Our blogland really brings us together, doesn`t it?

  8. Geli- i will look for heiko's blog - it sounds right up my alley. i wish i had the land to grow more veggies and herbs.....but maybe someday if my husband and i decide to follow a dream to eventually live in the central coast of california. lots of growing potential there!!!

    in the short couple of months i've been doing this, i've been amazed at how people can connect through blogging ---and i feel so lucky to have met you♡

  9. ok, my comment went into cyber space and landed elsewhere. what i said was how i have rodents with even better PR - bunnies - that breed like rabbits!
    also have frost still in the mornings in the rocky mountain front where i live at high altitudes - and wind and hail today - very tough going.

    but basil and tomatoes from your own little plot is the best. hands down. i can smell it now - deja pew - clairalience.

  10. sistah -

    you're right - bunnies have the best of all rodent PR ---

    and I love deja pew!!!

  11. Looks like you are going to get a bumper crop even if you have to share with your neighbor and I bet those Squirrels had a thing or two to say about it all via their p.r. ;)

  12. annie - i certainly hope you're right!! after so many years of having my tomato crop stripped i am happy to share this season's hoped-for crop with my neighbor - and yes - wouldn't you love to know what the squirrels are saying to one another right now?!


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