Bad Neighbor?

Every summer our neighbor – we’ll call her Paddington – tries to grow tomatoes on herIMG_8378 front porch. And every summer she only gets about two or three successful tomatoes because slugs and worms and critters vandalize her efforts.

Throughout the years you can see the evolution of her defensive tactics. One year she put a ring of salt around her pots. The next year she put eggshells in her soil. Then she started putting plastic bags of vinegar water in her pots.

But this year, she’s taking her tomato-preserving strategies to a whole new level.

havahartezsetracoonShe’s taken to setting up animalΒ traps.

Now, if anybody is an advocate for more tomatoes in this world, it’s me. In fact, I say we don’t need any other fruit or root but tomatoes. Tomatoes are like cheese – they make everything better. (I think I inherited my unusual love of tomatoes from my father: he was a successful tomato planter and he would bring his own tomatoes with him when we went out to restaurants. I can’t blame him, to this day I’ve never had better tomatoes.)

Do you see this picture of the tomato? Just looking at it makes me salivate, and it’s only 8:40 in the morning!tumblr_mfsxqiD18k1re461do1_500

So my love of tomatoes is clear. But, thought I’m no tree hugger, I also love animals. Not in the way a twelve-year-old girl does. I don’t doodle glittery ponies on my notebooks or anything, but I get a sense of sadness if I see them in trouble.

I always pull my car over to check for tags if I see a lost dog. If it wouldn’t be so dangerous, I’d shoo deer off the side of the road so they don’t get hit.

But anyway, our neighbor, Paddington, set these traps out and every day since I’ve found squirrels trapped in the cages. They just look so scared and helpless; they just wanted a bite of that darn Fig Newton.

I don’t know. Maybe I still feel guilty for hitting a baby squirrel with my car a while ago, or shooting suirells with my BB gun in the backyard when I was a kid…

So I look all around to make sure the coast is clear and release the squirrels . Sarabeth told me that they’re going to see me as their savior now. (Maybe I’ll grow some tomatoes and they’ll leave them alone as a thank you, then I can give some to Paddington as a peace offering.)

PussInBoots1Today I went outside with the dogs and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a raccoon. The poor guy wasn’t even struggling, probably because he was exhausted from panicking all night. He didn’t even flinch when I approached. He just looked up at me with those big tear-filled eyes…

So of course I let the big guy out.

This probably makes me an incredibly bad neighbor, but there’s no proof that the squirrels and raccoons are the ones destroying Paddington’s tomato plants. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

So what do you think? Bad neighbor or rodentΒ savior? Is growing a few tomatoes worth trapping animals for? You be the jury. You decide.

In the meantime, I’m going to run to the grocery store and pick up some produce.


Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

91 thoughts on “Bad Neighbor?

  1. Rodent savior for sure! Heck! At this point I would grow my own tomatoes just for her! And make sure she stayed supplied πŸ˜‰

  2. Just tell her to go with hydroponics. She can grow them inside or out and the plants grow far faster than just sitting in the ground.

    In the UK, hydroponics has been a god send due to the short growing season.

    Power to the rodent saviours.

  3. Way too funny. I can see you sneaking up on to the porch and releasing the little critters without your neighbor noticing. My mother does a similar thing with mice. If swhe catches them in the house she traps them in a jar and slowly suffocates them. It is a terrible thing to behold. I always sneak the little fellows out and release them back into the field.

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone in this! I was feeling kind of bad, but at the same time, kind of undercover-superhero as well.

  4. I am laughing so hard. My husband has a vendetta out for the local squirrels. For one thing they dig in the yard. For another they hang out on the bird feeder and discourage the birds. There’s a squirrel bar on the feeder, so the squirrel can’t get any seeds, but that doesn’t keep him from trying to establish squatter’s rights. So every time hubby sees a squirrel on the bird feeder, he gets out a pellet gun and fires a few shots. He’s been doing it for a couple of years and so far hasn’t hit anything – so I think the squirrels are safe. Since the squirrel comes back every morning I haven’t yet decided whether he thinks he’s playing a game with my husband or just has a really short memory.

  5. I am pretty sure this makes you a “bad neighbor” but the questions is: Do you care? πŸ™‚ You shouldn’t. I applaud your efforts, and would do the same. There are enough tomatoes in the world to go around!

  6. What was she planning to do with them once she trapped them? It sounds like you live in a pretty populated area so was she just going to relocate them somewhere else?

    1. That’s what scares me. There’s really nowhere to release them. And you have to have a good reason to kill an animal. Unless it’s a snake… those should always be killed.

  7. Save the poor animals! I’m sorry but a few tomatoes is not worth the pain and suffering of the little creatures who have every right to be free! I would be saving the animals as well.

  8. One of my friends had a mouse in her house that eluded all of their Have-A-Heart humane traps. After some weeks of this, she spotted the mouse in her living room late at night and covered it with a tupperware container. She yelled for her husband, who came running in wearing only his boxers. She slid a piece of cardboard under the box and managed to flip it over and cover it. Then she made her husband drive, in the middle of the night, to the park to release the mouse. Of course, the police showed up and wanted to know why a man wearing a raincoat and boxers was waving an empty tupperware container in the middle of the park at 2:00AM… Luckily, the officer had two little girls of his own, so he let Charlie go. But he warned him that the mouse would probably be back at his house by the time he got home…

  9. Well, yes. What was she going to do with the animals? The internet abounds in squirrel deterrent methods. My favorite is to install a squirrel feeder. I am a suspect source, however, as I couldn’t choke down a raw tomato if my life depended on it. I’d rather enjoy the company of the squirrels.

  10. I love tomatoes and animals. We grow tomatoes each year with success!! Trapping animals though no thank you! I think you did the right thing to release them, they are probably not the ones causing harm to the plant anyways.

  11. Those poor things! I don’t think you should trap them unless they are truly causing grave harm. Eating a few plants is their nature, they are doing what they were created to do. Don’t know the solution, but trapping them is not good. Just be careful when you let them go.

  12. I admit that I hate our squirrels because they destroy my pitted plants and eat ALL of the baby birds born each spring. But I don’t see how a trap will help protect the tomatoes when birds are the likely culprit. Why hasn’t she invested in a chicken wire covering for her plants?

    1. I think it’s because she’s got her pots full of so many other preventatives that she can’t fit them in.

  13. Well…yes…and no. Live traps do serve their purpose. Where I live…live traps are very common. BUT…if you set them, the idea is you are being watchful of them so that the little dude isn’t in it long before being released. It sounds to me like Paddington is not being watchful, and the critters are in there too long…therefore you are doing the correct thing in releasing them. How’s that for a diplomatic answer? Yes I agree with responsible use of live traps, and yes you are correct to release if Paddington isn’t being considerate to her animal visitors.

  14. This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but why not put the cage around the plants instead of the animals? You know, like chicken wire. It’s always worked for me. Now BUGS are a whole different matter. If I could find a non-chemical way to do so, I’d annihilate them!

  15. You’re a great neighbor to the rodents, and an innocent-until-caught neighbor to Paddington. Win-win.

    I would do the same thing, and my animal-loving husband (who hates raccoons since hitting one on his bike causing a very serious accident and injury for him) would do the same thing too.

  16. Raccoons can be a huge problem. Our dog used to growl at night, looking out a window that had a huge roman shade drawn down over it…she’d just nudge it a bit for a look and she’d growl and growl. I’d go out to the back yard to see what was bugging her doggy senses and could never find the critter. Then, one early morning, there it was, a huge mama raccoon, eating my birdseed by the handfuls! I stormed out the door yelling and 4 babies ran up the tree, Mama R right behind them. I found out from some neighbors that the raccoons used our subdivision’s water runoff system and grates as their own subway! I called the Missouri Dept, of Conservation as to what to do and sadly, they recommended I stop feeding the birds. A year after this, we moved to South-Central MO, lived in a house out in the country, fed the birds and I am sure there were raccoons in the area, but never saw them at all. Makes me think country raccoons are better at hiding then suburban ones. Has Paddington ever heard about planting marigolds around her tomato plants? That’s what I did when I used to grow tomatoes. Kept the pesky critters at bay.

  17. Glad you saved it! Skimmed the comments, I didn’t see anything about getting a predator statue… a fox? Something? They make all sorts of lawn ornaments in the likeness of predators that would probably help… Maybe a little unsightly but cages look worse.

  18. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Oh dear – well I think great neighour to those critters inhabiting your environment and a great neighbour to Paddington because surely she would feel horrified to find an non tomato eating innocent dead in her traps.
    One of my long term wishes for my final home is to have some raised beds to grow the veg we love in. they make more sense, less back breaking and also easier to deter fellow veggie lovers. The sun here is great for growing produce but takes thousands of gallons of water to keep alive. Our wonderful handyman who is in his 80’s used to grow rows of tomatoes and cucumbers each summer and the agreement was he would take a bucket and we would get a bucket. However, I pointed out to my husband about 8 years ago that I could buy a kilo of organic tomatoes – about a week’s worth – for about 2Euro – instead we were spending 70 Euro a week on watering our homegrown!! So now we frequent the markets. Perhaps do everyone a favour and pop over and rip out the damn things completely – then she will have to buy a mantrap…

  19. A tough one. Tomato-eating squirrels drive us nuts, but putting netting around our tomatoes seems to hold them back without hurting them. So I sympathize with the neighbor, but I might have let the raccoon out too.

  20. Nice piece, Andrew:)
    You did the best you could…and still go to sleep at night πŸ˜‰
    …and thanks for liking my latest blog entry.
    Happy blogging:-))
    Dr. D

  21. I doubt squirrels or coons eat the tomatoes. We have both around here, but they’ve bothered my tomatoes. Someone needs to tell your neighbor about Topsy turvy containers, no pest problems with them. I use them, since I have limited space.

  22. I don’t think you should go on your neighbors property and mess with their stuff without permission. I wouldn’t want anyone doing that to me–though I am a huge advocate of personal property rights and doing unto others as I’d have them do unto me (ie if we have a moral difference I want to be free to live mine on my own land). Squirrels ate all of our tomatoes for years. People who don’t garden may not realize how destructive they are. In our area they also eat all the fruit on a tree (like peaches) as well as all the figs if the ants don’t get them first. My son had to go through rabies shots due to a squirrel scratching him in the face. They may look cute, but we prefer to shoot them given how aggressive they are in our region. It is a first though, in other states we didn’t care about them.

  23. We are surrounded by squirrels and not one of them has touched our garden. However, deer love tomatoes. I definitely would have let the raccoon out because I, too, am an animal lover.

  24. I thought I was the only one with this genetic defect, if you class it as a defect.. It is soooooooooo bad that one boyfriend asked me if he wore a furry animal suit and started walking on all fours would I love him more? My answer was, yes of course.

  25. I don’t think that makes you a bad neighbor. I think it makes you a hero, especially to those poor animals.

  26. I’ve never heard of squirrels or raccoons eating tomato plants, so I think her efforts are misguided anyway. Good for you for siding with life, whether it be human or animal!

    1. Always life except in the case of capital punishment. And even then there should be mourning, not rejoicing.

  27. I love animals so I would never have the heart to do that. Good job on saving the raccoon. Its like I have a suspicion that a squirrel is burying nuts in my mosquito control plant pot. But thats ok, I can live with that. If it helps them, that makes me happy also πŸ™‚

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