Richmond Times Dispatch columnist Bill Lohmann seems to have hit his annoying, fuzzy tail – the destructive squirrel. Anyone who owns land and owns trees, birdhouses and a garden quickly learns to describe them with contemptuous terms. As a teenager in Amherst County, I spent hours looking for squirrels to put on our plates and on some trips they became elusive. Not in Richmond. At daybreak you pull out the morning paper and are greeted by the rascals who sit on your deck, hang on the bird feeder or put your quarter-size tomatoes in the bird bath. Like Lohmann, I am optimistic that I will get a few shrub-ripe tomatoes for my grilled hamburgers. However, it is a battle for the mind. So far I’m winning. My two towering plants, both 6 feet tall (a Better Boy and an Early Girl) inches from my window, have produced dozens of beautiful tomatoes without the typical vandalism.
My success, you ask? Squirrels like tomatoes – but they like roasted peanuts better when they are tactfully placed in a wire cage. My constant trickery this season is capturing them one by one and taking them north for a ride across the James River to Byrd Park – or south via Powhite Parkway, maybe west to Powhatan. If you notice one scurrying across the Boulevard Bridge, it could be they come back after more peanuts.