Readers Share Tips on Growing Tomatoes, Thwarting Squirrels

by Ms. Grow-It-All on June 30, 2011

in Weekly Column Archive

My columns often include an invitation for readers to share their expertise on the topic or issue of the day, and I am delighted when you send your suggestions. Today’s column is entirely devoted to reader tips. Keep ‘em coming.

Top tomatoes: Master Gardener Glenn Mayne, the best vegetable gardener I know, wrote after he read last week’s column to say that his tomatoes have continued to produce well despite the high heat. He sent a photo of two days’ harvest ripening on the kitchen counter, and he had canned a batch, too, as well as a photo of a tiny green tomato on the plant.

“I have been using Better Boy for so long now, I really don’t have any direct experience with other cultivars that do well in hot conditions,” Glenn wrote. “There are cultivars that specify they are ‘mid-season’ and ‘late season,’ which would have to be heat tolerant.

“Some that I have heard of people having success with in past hot summers are
Big Boy Hybrid, Box Car Willie, Solar Fire VFFF Hybrid and Arkansas Traveler #3566.
I believe all are VFN rated, which could be a factor in heat resistance.”

Thanks, Glenn.

By the way, to those who might be new to tomato gardening, “VFN rated” means that the cultivar has proved to be resistant to Verticillium wilt (V), Fusarium wilt (F) and nematodes (N). Two F’s, as in the Solar Fire he mentioned, indicate resistance to both races 1 and 2 of Fusarium wilt.

More squirrel repellant: Dael Jones, a regular reader and correspondent, wrote to suggest using the spiny balls from a sweet gum tree to keep squirrels out of flowerpots.

“I have discovered that the balls can be placed on the surface of container plants as a foil for squirrels! It seems squirrels don’t like the prickly balls beneath their feet. It is not 100 percent effective, but is better than anything else I’ve tried.

“I’ve also tried cayenne and black pepper and, they too, are somewhat effective. Mothballs worked but I learned it is bad for them to biodegrade into our soil so I stopped using those.”

Thanks, Dael.

Internet radio show: Ms. Grow-It-All’s Internet radio show airs at 5 p.m. today on Blog Talk Radio. This week’s we’ll be going through the mailbag, answering reader questions on a variety of topics. Join us live at You can download a podcast of the program, or any of my previous programs from or my website.


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