Rabbits and Deer, Oh My: The Bane of Long Island Vintners, Farmers and Gardners

Grown on Long Island? I’ll tell what’s not growing on Long Island: my tomato plants.

It all started like so many garden stories do, with high expectations. I was at Patty Gentry’s Early Girl Farm, fairly late in the planting season, and she was practically giving away her leftover tomato plants. In the past I’ve always planted paste tomatoes I bought from Mr. Munson on Oaklawn Avenue in Southold. He grows from seed–along with many other varieties–my favorite, the Polish paste tomato. I’ve never seen them sold anywhere else. They’re called paste tomatoes because they have more flesh than seeds and are good for sauce. They get consistently red in my back yard, are great for roasting if you end up with too many and taste great. But from Patty I got paste plants I’ve never heard of, like egg yolk and snowberry. I was pretty excited.

But I’m not in Southold this summer; I’m in Quogue, which puts me closer to Patty and closer to … rabbits and deer. (Cue horror music.)

Witness the damage: I’m crushed. Will it come back? There are new leaves, which I have sprayed with a mixture of sriracha and water. I’m blaming the rabbits–the deer have been scarce since the dog moved in.

Will hot sauce work? I’ll let you know.

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Eileen M. Duffy

Eileen M. Duffy DWS holds a diploma in wines and spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Her book on Long Island wine Behind the Bottle came out in 2015. Visit her website, eileenmduffy.com, to find out what else she's working on.