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Urban tomato thief

We live in center city Philadelphia. Recently, we found all of our (completely green) tomatoes in our backyard gone. We found evidence in the form of one left-behind half tomato, which looked like it had been chewed. Squirrels? Racoons? Pesky neighbors with a taste for green tomatoes? Any thoughts on the thief and prevention would be great!

asked by LucyS over 2 years ago
11 answers 1353 views
added over 2 years ago

Rats. Bait traps with tomatoes.

added over 2 years ago

It could definitely be rats!! The jerks. Do you think we can control them with traps? We have other peoples' small yards on all sides of us, so I'm worried that they'll just come anyway. As I mentioned below our gate was slightly open, but this could be wind or anything and not necessarily related to tomato theft.

added over 2 years ago

So, as updated information, our gate was slightly open but it didn't look like a person did it (things in front of the gate hadn't been moved, in any case, we're getting a lock). Our yard doesn't face the street, but the yard of hte person who has a house on the next stret over (our whole block is like this).

added over 2 years ago

It sounds like a larger predator such as a raccoon or opossum. My experience is rats tend to eat small amounts every evening. Good luck with this very frustrating garden issue.


Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

added over 2 years ago

I'm guessing a raccoon. That's what we've got, and they love tomatoes. :(


Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I could be raccoons or squirrels or both. We have both types of critters and I see the squirrels sitting on fences eating tomatoes. Raccoons raid the garden at night, squirrels are brazen and do it in the daylight.

added over 2 years ago

We had the same problem and we lived on the 3rd floor. The Chicago squirrels (or raccoons) were deterred by crushed red pepper (I got the huge bottle from Costco and put it basically everywhere -- the leaves, the soil, the deck) and (no commentary please) sachets filled with our dog's fur at the base of the pots. We had a German Shepherd (lots of shed) and I used cheesecloth to make the sachets. I know it sounds gross but the fur wasn't near the actual tomatoes and it worked like a charm. I had a friend say mothballs worked -- they didn't for us.

Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 2 years ago

In Brooklyn the squirrels go wild for our tomatoes. I've seen one demolish a large green tomato in under two minutes -- right in front of my face! The nerve. We've tried netting, but I find it really annoying/unattractive. I'm going to try the the crushed red pepper trick!

added over 2 years ago

Have you tried bunny/deer repellant? It stinks but works for my garden. I just put it around my plants not directly on them and it's still effective

added over 2 years ago

We put garden netting over our tomato plants and have had good luck keeping the squirrels out.


Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

A Wererabbit.
From the claymation Wallace and Gromit