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Mocking birds are eating my tomatoes!

by Lynn M.
(San Joaquin Countey, CA)

Q. Mocking birds are beating me to my ripe tomatoes. They have eaten several whole tomatoes already. They laugh at shiny objects I hang out to scare them (mocking me?) Is there anything I can do? Help.

A. Birds often start feasting on tomatoes just as the fruit starts ripening (as you've discovered). Unfortunately, by the time you notice, they've munched their way through part of your crop. Check out these options to protect your tomatoes.

  • One of the best solutions is to drape your plants with bird netting.
    iconSpread netting on plants after fruit forms but before tomatoes begin to ripen. Each year you can re-use bird netting.
  • Protect a small number of plants with homemade "socks." Cut an old pair of nylon pantyhose into 10-12 inch lengths. Slip these "nylon socks" over a cluster of tomatoes. Tie the ends. The fruit will continue to ripen but the socks can thwart birds.
  • You can also string fishing line (mono filament string) horizontally above plants in rows 12 inches apart. The birds can't see the clear lines. Their wings hit the line, discourages them from getting to tomatoes, and they give up.
  • Find a few old CDs, hang them on light string or fishing line near plants, and let them spin in the breeze. Even if birds do not respond to the flashy objects you have out there now, they might have an aversion to the CDs' flashing reflection.
  • Some gardeners pick their tomatoes just as they begin to show the first blush of color. They let them finish ripening inside on the kitchen counter - which keeps them away from birds.

Hope these ideas keep our feathered friends at bay so you can enjoy your tomatoes.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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