“Does anyone have any tips on how to protect the rest of my garden from this happening again?”

by Prince Of Petworth June 22, 2016 at 10:50 am 25 Comments

tomato plant

And what they don’t like basil? But seriously that sucks.

“Dear PoPville,

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised but one of our tomato plants was stolen from our garden bed in the front of our house on Marion st in Shaw. Roots and all – it was just gone when we got back home Sunday evening.

I’m struggling to figure out what the point of stealing it could possibly be. The plant wasn’t yet flowering – it’ll take another 30 days or so until tomatoes are even produced so if the thief wants to get anything out of it it will take some serious TLC. You could also buy a plant for $3 around the corner at Old City Farm. Or – they could actually just go buy tomatoes at Giant!

Does anyone have any tips on how to protect the rest of my garden from this happening again?”

  • How big was it? Might have been a squirrel vs a person. They have definitely uprooted some of our herbs in the early phases. (in our fenced in back patio where random people don’t go, I hope)

  • Effie

    I’m so very sorry that this happened to you. I’ve seen these happen quite however. Between either small animals rooting them up, or actual people who are taking them. I’ve had neighbors either use small cages surrounding plants, or some sort of fencing. It won’t make it impossible to take your plants.. but it will make someone think twice about the amount of time it would take in the future.

  • I second that this was probably a squirrel. A chicken wire cage might keep them out, but I would weigh the aesthetics of the garden above the safety of the herb plants for a garden bed in the front yard.

    • MM

      You can also put chicken wire on the ground around the plant – makes it difficult to dig out the plant
      Agree that it is most likely a squirrel or rat

  • Sean

    PoPville – A repository for all of life’s questions and answers: https://www.popville.com/2016/04/dont-touch-the-fence-seriously/

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Pit bulls. (Kidding!)

    • I Dont Get It


    • textdoc

      Riding bicycles.

  • saf

    It is very difficult for squirrels to buy plants, so they steal (or simply behead) our plants. They think it is funny.

    Sprinkling with hot pepper can sometimes help.

    • MsSunshine

      Yup — squirrels… and cayenne has been pretty effective in keeping them from digging in my flower boxes.

      • wpeterm

        I had a ton of problems with the squirrels. Cayenne didn’t help because different squirrels kept coming. However, I found that a drop of peppermint oil around the plants did the trick. Did this for two weeks straight and haven’t had a squirrel since.

  • transplanted

    I agree that it was probably a small animal, not a juvenile tomato plant poacher. You can mix up a simple hot pepper spray for your little veggie plants to deter critters.

  • neighbor

    “The plant wasn’t yet flowering – it’ll take another 30 days or so until tomatoes are even produced”
    No advice, but man your tomatoes are late!

  • hiphopanonymous

    Squirrels did the exact same thing to our pansies. Little bastards. Thought about leaving War Heads or Sour Patch Kids for them to dig up.

  • textdoc

    It sounds like it was most likely squirrels, but if you think humans are doing this, you might try adding garden border fencing (comes in different heights and shapes, readily available at Home Depot and Lowe’s) as a deterrent, and possibly consider moving the garden bed to your backyard.

  • Anon

    For the people above who are saying this was a squirrel – where did the plant go? Would the squirrel really take an entire tomato plant without a trace? Serious question. We’ve had issues with squirrels uprooting flowers, but the evidence is always left behind. I always assumed completely vanished plants and flower bushes were stolen by people.

    • saf

      They’ve done that to us. Sometimes we find the plants dragged to the other side of the yard or in the alley.

      Or left on the windowsill.

  • Amber

    I constructed cages that were light enough I could lift on and off my raised beds to protect my plants from vermin. They had a lot of fun using it as a jungle-gym, but it did keep them safe. Also, as the plants got bigger, they would start to weave into the wire, so it was hard to lift off (and without the cage, the vermin ate the fruits).
    Now I grow gladiolus.

  • mellodcd

    I had the same issue last year… but I would guess it was a raccoon since the whole plant is gone. I made chicken wire cages to protect my tomatoes this year, and so far no uprooted plants.

  • General Grant Circle

    No. Someone keeps stealing the flower out of one of my pots though and it is maddening

  • Beth

    Squirrels. Squirrels dig up whole plants and carry them away or just drop them next to the hole. Squirrels have taken 2 of my basils and I have watched them randomly tackle and destroy lillies. I don’t think this was people. Maybe put some wire hardware cloth around the base of the other ones so they can’t dig there. :(

  • annonny

    Ugh this sucks. I hope it’s a squirrel or other wildlife as people suggest, not some obnoxious kids or plant thief. As others mentioned, go to an Indian/Pakistani grocery store and buy some bulk cayenne/ground red pepper. Sprinkle liberally on the ground around your plants. Birds, squirrels, and others will stop digging there. Just be careful to wear gloves when doing any planting afterward!

  • Angry Parakeet

    Actually birds do not mind hot pepper, but squirrels are the problem and they are deterred by it. Same with rabbits. Really what we need is a return of the squirrel-munchin’ Petworth eagle. Another thing: trying to kill rats without poison I laid out big sticky traps on their trail. A squirrel got stuck to one and hilariously as I got close it gathered its strength and freed itself, leaving a good bit of hair stuck to it. Try putting those around your plants.

  • PJ at MtP

    I put aluminum foil around my plants in my porch rail boxes, cut holes for the stems and punch holes for watering. Squirrels don’t like it and reflective foil produces more foot candles. After my plants (mostly impatiens) grow, the foil hardly shows.

  • KP

    This happened to me three times this year. And it was most definitely NOT a squirrel. Someone was digging out all of my vegetable plants to transplant them or sell them elsewhere. I replanted and they came back! I have yet to find an effective deterrent.


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