Well I Had A Tomato…

Yesterday I was admiring a nice yellow semi-pear shaped cherry tomato. Today it is gone. Someone ate it in the night…

I’ve griped that this year had been too cold to set fruit. Well, somewhere near the end of August, likely just before I left or while I was on the trip, there must have been some warm evenings. I found fruit set when I returned at the first week or two of September. One was just getting a bit yellow on my first day back. I watched it get to a nice yellow color. This being a volunteer, I wasn’t sure if it was a yellow or red tomato plant, so was thinking I’d pick it in a day or two. Right after a photo for my article about having a tomato.

Something else had other ideas…

I suspect some small hungry furry thing with a good nose could smell it was ripe and wasn’t worried about yellow vs red. The other half dozen green tomatoes are still on the vine, so it wasn’t a random pick. We’ve got a variety of critters it might be. Squirrels, raccoons, ‘possums, perhaps even some more unsavory rodents who work the night shift, then there are birds.

In any case, it is gone now. So this is a report without a photo. I had a tomato. One. There’s also about 1/2 dozen similar size but green still on the vine. Set very very late at the peak of summer heat that looks to have been One Week Only this year. We’ll see if another set of smaller fruit form, but so far all the fruit are about the same size, so nearly the same age. Looks like a one week to at most 2 week spread to me.

So the Tomato reports a cooler than normal summer. Despite what all the “Climate Scientists” are saying about hottest ever. The Tomato Knows… and it doesn’t tell lies. Were this the “hottest ever”, I’d have had tomato set back in June or at latest early July. I’ve had that before in really warm summers (for this area… the SF Bay Area can be a challenge for tomato growers- Russian types work best as they can have a 40 F nighttime limit fruit set instead of the typical 50 F).

Well, with that, I’m going back to the garden to see what else has been served as a buffet to the local critters. I know the squirrels have been getting the figs just before they ripen… I guess I can enjoy that someone is benefiting from it in my absence.

Now where did I leave that Squirrel Stew recipe…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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11 Responses to Well I Had A Tomato…

  1. philjourdan says:

    Do squirrels have heart attacks? We have 7 cats. They are mostly inside, but we let them out under supervision and the squirrels know to clear the yard (a few over the years have been too slow).

    But I found one with no markings on it, dead on the ground. Cats are not scavengers, so they had not touched it. It was a FLF, so it did not die of hunger or malnutrition. Maybe clogged arteries.

  2. cdquarles says:

    Well, phil, if it is mammalian, then it can suffer from arterial occlusion. On the other hand, there isn’t enough information to know. Infection could have gotten it, renal failure could have gotten it, cancer could have gotten it (think brain tumor in the right spot, so it doesn’t have to be large). Too many possibles to know. It’d take an autopsy to help. Was it warm or cold or was rigor mortis present? That helps to put bounds on the time of death.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting question…

    Most squirrels only make it a year or two. In captivity they can go to 7+.

    In the wild, it is usually winter famine that does them in.

    So one that overwintered, made it through a fattening summer, then kicks it? Hmmm…

    Anyone putting out rodent bait / poison in the area? Unless it looks really old and feeble, or very flat with tread marks, I don’t know what to make of it.

    Rabbits are very sensitive for food mix and can simply “up and die” from what looks like a heart attack. Sometimes it’s a digestive toxicity (wrong bacteria – some antibiotics kill bunnies by shifting the gut flora too much). Others, I’ve just had a bunny suddenly “kick it”. One just keeled over in my arms. Squirrels are close enough to the bunnies / rodents / primates group they might do something similar. OTOH, I’ve seen them drop 40 feet from a tree (missed jump) hit the pavement and scamper away. I’d expect that to scare the begeezus out of them if anything would. Yet the street is not covered in them… other than the occasional one with tread marks…

  4. philjourdan says:

    This was Tuesday about 6pm. Rigor mortis had set in (it was not there 24 hours earlier). And it is stinking to high heaven (garbage man does not come until Monday). So yea, it could be anything. Given its size, heart disease was my first thought (it was not skinny). We do have hawks, so I thought one may have dropped it. But it was under a tree (low flying hawk?) and as I said, no marks. So I do not think so.

  5. philjourdan says:

    Could be bait from a neighbor. Had not thought of that. Makes me glad I keep the cats under watch. One likes to jump the fence, but we realize that quickly (usually stop her before she does) and go get her before she is gone very long. I do not know why anyone would be poisoning anything. We do have some racoons, and possums, but they are not over running the place. I guess someone’s flowers were eaten if that is the case.

  6. philjourdan says:

    I did put down mole stakes – the subsonic kind, not the poison kind. Maybe someone was baiting moles? But I do not see squirrels eating what moles eat.

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    We started getting ripe tomatoes about 3 weeks ago up here above Chico. I would say about 3-4 weeks late for us. I don’t think it was the heat levels as it was plenty hot here. More likely the quality of sunlight has been decreasing over the last few years. I bought 2 Big Beef plants this spring and planted them in the greenhouse they produced 3 tomatoes in July and quit fruiting. Still growing fine. Cherry and Yellow Plum are doing fine both in and outside the greenhouse. The Amish Paste are doing great, just late. Some are as big as My Fist! and wonderful flavor. A real beef steak tomato.
    Recently we had dinner at the local high class steak house. Salad had tomato slices, they were colorized insipid things that tasted like green tomatoes. This in California Sacramento Valley in August! I should have brought my own. Major disappointment for a $50 steak dinner…pg

  8. Power Grab says:

    Last weekend I heard of a device like this:


    I didn’t know they had such a thing!

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    Power Grab;
    not sure is this device is of any use to determine the quality of incoming sunlight. Reviews seem to indicate this particular device is a cheap piece of crap. I do have 1 of their soil testers for ph, moisture and illumination. Seems to work fine. Only the plants seem to know if all the conditions suit them. ;-) Farmers are often just guessing. It takes years to find the right varieties and techniques for a piece of land and get generally dependable results.
    Modern seeds and plants are not always the best suited for small micro-climate sites such as I garden in so seed saving and line breeding is a useful tool…pg

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    Folks often bait for rats and other critters get into it…


    Are tomatoes sensitive to spectrum?… Hmmm….

    Sadly, you can thank my alma-mater for the tasteless rubber tomatoes. They developed the tough skin never-over-ripens-and-spoil things for the “industry”… Picked light green they turn light pinkish and will keep for weeks (months?) in storage. Just don’t try to bite into one and don’t expect any flavor beyond green-mealy…

    Dad raised real Beef Steak tomatoes. Eaten at 100F while sitting in the garden with a salt shaker, juice running down face and hands, God that was a treat. Can’t do that here. Too close to the ocean. 30 miles south of Chico is great tomato country ;-)

    The commercial seeds have often gone over to the industrial types. Traditional is much much better. More variety of choices in what they expect. Less addicted to loads of artificial fertilizers. And, my own pet peeve, more vining types and long harvest seasons. Commercial peas, beans, tomatoes, etc. are developed to be bush types so no labor to stake them and to all ripen on the same day so you only harvest once, if possible. Exactly the opposite of what you want in a garden. Space efficient vertical crops with harvest stretching from just after last frost to first frost is great in a garden.

    My seed freezer is full of many divergent varieties just so that post-disaster if the microclimate shifted, I’d have something that would fit it. From cold season peas and favas to desert adapted tepary beans, for example. Finding what works well takes time though. I have a small seeded (round) fava from Persia that works great, while the larger ones are more fussy here. I’ve yet to managed a decent turnip, but likely because I wasn’t growing them in winter… Managed to get the tepary beans to produce after I followed the guidance to NOT plant them in rich soil and stopped watering them…. they really do want the desert and their roots rot if you water them too much. Finally got good peas when I started them in pots before last frost and set them out early enough to not get over heated. I like some of the indian corn, despite the 120 days to maturity, for their ability to grow in crummy dirt with irregular water. Yet I’ve got some 45 day ‘wonder corn’ hybrids that can get some quick crop in a big hurry… as long as the fertilizer and water are right.

  11. philjourdan says:

    Have not seen any rats around. But we do have some crazy neighbors, so they may be seeing things. :-)

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