The Q&A Archives: What Ate My Tomato Plants?

Question: I live in the city (Brooklyn, NY) and have a small back yard. I recently planted 4 tomato plants and 3 green pepper plants. This weekend something ate all the leaves off my tomato plants and ate the pepper plants in their entirety. My sage and rosemary plants were also nibbled. I don't think we have rabbits in the middle of Brooklyn and someone said they wouldn't eat tomato plants. What could it be and what can I do about it? Please don't say it was a rat!

Answer: Actually, a rabbit or a woodchuck could conceivably be "out there" because they are very adaptable animals (as are rats). Based on the selection of plants nibbled, I would vote for a woodchuck. If htis is the case you might want to contact animal control and have it removed because they can be very dangerous, bite and be unpredictable. They are also tough to fence out because they will dig and tunnel under a fence or even climb it. However, you might have several pests at work with birds pulling out seedlings and slugs devouring foliage by dark of night. Birds can be deterred until the plants are larger by setting out scare crow type measures or setting small wire mesh cages over the plants. Slugs can be controlled by hand picking at night when they are active or by sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the soil surface around them. The rosemary and sage would not normally be bothered by animals, in my experience, so maybe someone pinched a few sprigs to use in the kitchen when you weren't looking?

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