It's War

I am feeling less like a kind-hearted, all-creatures-of-God-loving vegetarian today. It’s the tomatoes—again. We have made it past so many obstacles with this first attempt at vegetable gardening in the Texas heat: the cats eating our tomato starts as they sprouted inside, the blowing spring winds that threatened to snap the stalks of our donated and purchased replacement tomato starts once they were put in the ground, the lack of bees to pollinate our plants, the threat of a dog, kids, and cats. In fact, things in the garden had improved to the point where we finally had too many green tomatoes to count—on big healthy plants that tower somewhere around four feet tall. But as these gems have begun to ripen in the last week or so, a plague of birds has begun. I’m onto their methods, as observed from the sunroom window: they attack a few days before the tomato is just right for people, leaving in their wake greenish-orangish pitted things suitable only for the compost. It’s maddening to watch them pecking at the fruit we’ve worked so hard to grow for our family. But then again, from their perspective, free organic tomatoes are a major score. Our three year old Sam has taken to pounding on the windows to scare them away when he sees them. Even he feels a sense of exasperation, as this garden has been like a giant preschool project to him. At least they’re not eating his prized zinnias. But we can’t eat those, either.Sam and I made a scarecrow with a tiki torch and some flannel pajamas. No results. We whisked together some cayenne pepper and water and used a pastry brush to spread it on the green tomatoes. It has been regarded as seasoning. I’m told that shiny things and snakes scare birds away, so my next effort will be a trip to the dollar store for silver pinwheels and rubber snakes. It will be worth having the tackiest garden on earth if only, fingers crossed, we can eat some of our own tomatoes.