|Little Buck browses on trashed tomato vines|
Starting tomato seeds in April for transplanting in May is a great spring tonic. Setting the young tomato plants into the garden in late May signifies hope. Watching the plants grow and bloom and then picking the ripening fruit from summer till frost is the priceless reward.
But cleaning up the Tomato Patch after frost has wiped it out? That’s just not fun, but Tuesday turned out to be the day for that chore. The day was almost picture perfect—sunny with red leaves of sumac and maples and golden leaves of tulip poplars fluttering in the cool, autumn breeze.
|Tomato Patch after weekend frost|
What? Tossed the dead plants right over the fence?
Yes, I toss them right over the fence for several reasons. That gets them—and any insect or disease pests they may harbor—out of the garden. That also gets them about four feet closer to our woodside compost pile, where they’ll join the endless cycle of dust to plant to dust. And, finally, that gets them to the correct side of the split-rail fence so my four-legged clean-up helpers can browse on the few remaining leaves and fruit.
Four-legged browsers? Yes—deer. As most gardeners know, deer love tomatoes—leaves especially and sometimes fruit, though they don’t insist on sliced Celebrities on whole wheat with lettuce, basil, and mayo.
|One fall chore: done|
I’ll still have to cart a wheelbarrow of vines down to the compost pile, but that job will be easier after the buck has eaten an ounce or two of leaves, and as the buck’s digestive track recycles the food into deer droppings, the yard likely will benefit from a light dose of fertilizer.
That’s about all the excitement we can stand today here in the Tomato Patch in Deer Country.