Two years ago, we had this chicken living in our tomato bed at Herban Farms. Not visiting, living. She nested in the back of the bed, laid some eggs, fertilized the tomatoes for us. Scared the daylight out of me a few times when I wasn’t expecting to see her and I was pruning the tomato vines. (Chickens can be mean)
Tomatoes are supposed to be easy to grow. Lotsa hype about the ease of their production. Don’t believe the hype, if you live in Florida. Bugs love tomatoes, stupid squirrels eat them, nematodes plague them if you put them in the ground, et cetera. There are easy veggies to grow here, I wouldn’t put tomatoes in that category, though. I guess Matt’s Super Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato is an exception, it’s almost more of a weed than a tomato plant, popping up all over the place, growing like a monster.
Tomatoes. So this chicken, we didn’t name it; we should’ve. Henrietta’s a good chicken name. Henrietta, I think she ate bugs in the bed, too. Our tomato chicken champ. Sometimes she ate the tomatoes on the bottom of the vine. No worries. It was a fair tradeoff. Why? Because we had buckets of tomatoes. Seriously buckets. The kids and I have not experienced anything similar to this bountiful harvest. I remember picking them and eating them off the vine, the kids doing the same, and there hasn’t been a comparable tomato since.
We’ve tried growing tomatoes the past three seasons and they’ve sputtered out. I blame Henrietta. She flew away one day. The kids witnessed it. She just up and flew the coup (the bed). Who knew a chicken could fly over a building? Not me. I’m guessing she never found her way back after leaving our safe haven because she was eaten by someone in the neighborhood. She was a healthy looking bird. Probably would’ve made a good dinner for a meat eater.
I’m still chasing a harvest of tomatoes that could be measured in buckets. We want to make sauces and salsas and salads, all kinds of stuff. Spring 2013 might be it. Fingers crossed. Let me know if you have a chicken who wants to adopt a bed.