The night after my last posting our raccoons made an aerial incursion (over the top of the chicken wire and through the confounding string) into our tomato patch. There were casualties–the ripe and near-ripe tomatoes from all varieties. In response, we intensified our aerial string defences and added a ring of light plastic chicken wire which extends a metre above the top of the metal chicken wire. So far, the enemy has not penetrated the new superior perimeter. We’ll get a ripe tomato yet, by gar!
Spurred to action by the loss of a ripe Tennessee Green, the Queen of Cuisine has installed j-shaped ground staples to anchor the inferior perimeter of the chicken wire to the ground. She reinforced this defence with another string and added more strings to the superior perimeter just in case.
A raccoon or raccoons somehow made it into our tomato patch ,pulled a ripe Tennessee Green out of the middle of a plant and ate half of it. Preliminary investigation suggests that the perpetrator or perpetrators made its or their way under the chicken wire palisade. There is no evidence that the top of the palisade was breeched, and the Queen of Cuisine is driving little stakes into the bottom in an effort to deter further inferior breeches.
Her Majesty will also add another top string to the existing “cofounding” aerial defence perimeter.
With the caveat that none of our tomatoes is ripe at the moment, Her Majesty’s raccoon palisade showed no signs of critter intrusion this morning. More news as it breaks.
Anyone living in southern Ontario knows how brutal and long the winter of ’13-’14 was. Here’s a piece from Drinks Business outlining the consequent loss of the ’14 Merlot crop and most of the ’14 Sauvignon Blanc harvest.
Thursday 7 August 2014
Polar vortex wipes out 2014 Niagara Merlot
4th August, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
The polar vortex earlier this year has all but wiped out the Merlot crop in Niagara, with Sauvignon Blanc also severely affected.
As reported by CBC News, both Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc were casualties of the polar vortex that plagued southern Ontario this winter, with the freezing spell taking its toll on grape vines in the region.
“You won’t see a 2014 merlot from Niagara. That just will not happen. There won’t be any,” Derek Saunders of Calamus Estate Winery in Ontario told CBC News.
“The quantities of Sauvignon Blanc will be tiny, but you work in a business where Mother Nature is in charge. That’s the deal,” he added.
CBC News reports that the bud survival rates for Sauvignon Blanc ranged from 8% along Lake Erie’s north shore to 51% at in central Niagara, while just 4% of the Merlot from Lake Erie’s north shore survived compared to 64% along the Niagara lakeshore.
While Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah suffered from the effects of the polar vortex, Riseling, Vidal and Baco Noir fared better, though the extent of the damage to the grapes is still unclear as the 2014 harvest has yet to take place.
“This is a bit of wait-and-see because of all the variable conditions we have. We’ve got to wait and see how the harvest progresses,” Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of Grape Growers of Ontario told CBC News.
Canadian grape growers are experimenting with new techniques to combat damage to grapes during harsh winters including wind machines that mix the cold air that settles on the ground with the warm air above it.
In contrast to this year, Ontario had a banner year in 2013, when a record 79,756 tonnes of grapes were harvested.
Raccoons can identify tomatoes at the moment of perfect ripeness. they attack at night, taking a big parasite-infected bite out of our precious fruit and leaving a squishy half-eaten former beauty on the ground, like a corpse left at the scene by a serial killer taunting the authorities.
Following the loss of three Black Princes, a Persimmon, a Green Zebra and a Red Brandywine, the Queen of Cuisine summoned up her artistry and energy and created an anti-raccoon palisade around the tomato patch. The varmints managed to reach over the chicken wire (which they hate)
to snag the Brandywine, but we reinforced the top and added a ring of string to “confound” them, as Her Majesty says.
The “Critter Ridder” I sprinkled yesterday doesn’t seem to do much.
I’ll keep you posted on developments.