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Curses! Foiled Again!

…even the best laid plans need adjustments.

 A few years ago, my husband set to work building a set of garden boxes for me. My requirements were (relatively) simple – tall enough to keep the dogs out and long enough to hold a substantial herb garden and several tomatoes/peppers. After extensive discussion and negotiation, those requirements were translated into actual plans that we both agreed upon. We purchased the supplies and the labor portion of the project began. 

 The results appeared to be just what I asked for, if not exactly what he had originally thought would be a simple easy project, two beautiful 4′ wide by 3′ tall by 10′ long boxes with an additional 4′ square box that was also 3′ tall. Several bags of organic gardening dirt and shovels of humus from my composter later, it was ready for planting. I moved all of my herbs into their new home and planted some beautiful heirloom tomatoes along with cherry tomatoes and bell peppers and sat back to wait for the harvest. 

Over the summer, the heirloom tomatoes grew slowly. The first ones just starting to ripen in late July. We couldn’t wait to eat them! But just as the first tomato was at its peak of ripeness, it was stolen out from under us. Watson, our diabolical Flat Coated Retriever tomato thief, had jumped into the garden box to help himself to the tomato. Apparently, he had also been waiting patiently for it to hit the right moment of perfection. Throughout the summer, despite all of our efforts, he continued to raid the garden and steal tomatoes to the extent that if we did not pick them green and ripen them inside, we had none. A definite requirement fail!

 But this summer, I thought I had him. Time for a project adjustment. When I planted my tomatoes, I put stakes all around the box. I could easily reach in and pick tomatoes but there was no way he could squeeze his 80 pound body past the stakes to get into the box. As tomato season came on, I laughed at him every time I picked ripened tomatoes for our family to eat. I could see him watching closely and trying to figure out how to get to those tomatoes. 

 By mid-August, the tomato plants had really started to branch out and expand beyond the borders of the box. The stakes couldn’t contain them and if I tried to keep them inside there wasn’t enough light for the rest of the plant. As soon as any branches moved beyond the stakes, the tomatoes were no longer mine. Watson claimed them no matter how high he had to jump to pick them. At this point, we were left with a compromise – he claimed the outside tomatoes and we would have the inside tomatoes – because sometimes you have to work with the reality of the situation and not just be tied to the requirements that sounded good on paper.  Plus, how do you not love a dog that works so hard to eat tomatoes?