Tomato Gardening and Dogs by da-AL


1DogGardenHelp
This dog is a natural gardener.

What do dogs (namely larger ones like mine) have to do with tomato plants? My wonder doggies help chase away vermin. They scare off rats, possums, raccoons, and coyotes! Plus they make it impossible for birds to alight on my luscious fruit.

Screens keep the good in and the bad out.
Screens keep the good in and the bad out.

Since our furriness happened to my family, even the crowds of snails have dwindled, as have the legions of tea cup sized grasshoppers.

At the same time, they kept our pollinating non-aggressive bees and wasps intact!

For years, I pitied the oil slick green beetles that bump around blindly in my garden. The dogs often lunge and chomp at the pretty things, toying with what I mistook for ‘JUNE bugs.’ A few days ago I learned that the reason why our insects arrive much after June. They’re fig beetles, which explains why they buzz around my eyes when I balance from the high branches of our fig tree.

Along with dogs, window screen and clothes pins protect plants.
Along with dogs, window screen and clothes pins protect plants.

Unfortunately, they can’t fight spiders, the ones that stunted a couple of my most promising seedlings with their webs of red powder.

My gardening skills lie somewhere between the green-to-black thumb spectrum. Our doggies greet fertilizer as candy, so I rarely use it. Nor do I use pesticides for myriad reasons. The tomatoes are watered only at the roots, to stave off mold and thirsty bugs.
4CageBase 31Past years, I didn’t much mind sharing our bounty with local ‘wildlife.’ Last summer, however, birds and rats took everything! I considered nets, but envisioned baby birds snarled within them. Only a few weeks ago, it occurred to me to use some leftover window screen material.

Wasps and bees are garden helpers too.
Wasps and bees are garden helpers too.

It’s  light enough to cut with scissors, and malleable enough to be anchored with clothes pins at the base of each cage. Voila!

Look at my new cages! Too bad I didn’t think of them sooner than just a few weeks ago! In tandem with the dogs, they work royally to deter greedy pests. At the same time they let in sunlight and air. Don’t bee fooled by this wasp – them and the bees get under the mesh when they feel like working pollinating magic.

Gardening goodness, screen guardian underneath.
Gardening goodness, screen guardian underneath.

The loveliness of planting tomatoes surpasses how they make my mouth ecstatic. They’ve taught me to be resourceful and optimistic. One plant barely grew, hardly leafed out, I almost pulled it up. As if in defiance or gratitude, it rendered eight succulent orbs!

How do your pets garden?