Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Great Tomato Panic of 2008 may be a windfall for me and help pay for the expensive gas required for my recent Galveston trip. Tomatoes have been pulled from the shelves and even McDonald’s has cut them from their meals because of the recent scare over Salmonella contamination. This is going to make my few homegrown tomatoes worth a fortune. I’m thinking about putting up a little stand in front of my house to sell some of the red gold fruit. I figured it cost me about $100 each for the tomatoes I raised, so if I follow the example of the oil company CEOs I should be asking about $200 for each tomato as a fair sale price.

My sales price is really not that outrageous considering the work and research I have put into producing this precious fruit. It has been a great effort just to defend the crop from the ever-present deer in our back yard. My latest effort in deer protection is the fence, which is pictured above. This is a masterful combination of wire, duct tape, crepe paper, plastic stakes and traffic cones.

I have had all kinds of advice regarding deer deterrents. I currently use Cayenne pepper. There is so much pepper on the plants that the deer start sneezing from 100 yards away. I figure that the Cayenne pepper won’t hurt us humans if a little remains on the tomatoes after harvesting. This pepper is known for its medicinal uses. Cayenne pepper has been used as a circulatory tonic, for sore throat, for arthritic pain and as a powder in socks to prevent frostbite. It’s also great to rub on a wound to stop the bleeding. I keep some in the bathroom to use for my nicks and cuts inflicted while shaving.

Many have advised me about other deer deterrents. The guy who exterminates our place and keeps us free of cockroaches and ants suggested tobacco juice as the best deterrent. That stuff is hard to find now days. In years past you could find tobacco juice in spittoons in barbershops, hotels and other public places where it was in abundant supply. These no longer exist and I’m sure glad. The idea of tobacco juice on the tomatoes is not too appetizing. It was also suggested that I spread human hair over the plants. The human scent drives the deer away. I’m pretty sure this would work, especially if it was from some of the people I encountered on my recent trip to Galveston.

Anyway, with all my effort to improve production and the expense incurred for deer deterrents, I figure that the tomatoes at $200 each are a bargain. I might even put my tomato stand next to the service station in our neighborhood so when folks fill up with gas they will realize that $200 for a precious tomato isn’t all that bad.

I’m also thinking about expanding my tomato crop. That’s work I can do from the porch, since watching them grow and keeping an eye out for the deer is one of my biggest jobs. I should be able to get some tax break for operating the porch because it’s my business site. Also, in case the deer or insects eat my crop there has to be some sort of government subsidy for this loss. The tomato business is a lot of fun. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it years ago.


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