The 2018 Tomato War is over. The Hively family lost. The squirrels won.

The 2018 Tomato War is over. The Hively family lost. The squirrels won.
About three years ago we had a wonderful crop of tomatoes. We gave many tomatoes to family and friends. We practically filled one freezer with them and later that winter had plenty for chili and stew.
But squirrels do love tomatoes, especially when their usual waterholes are dry. So last year, we put in 16 tomato plants, knowing we would have to share with the bushy tails. But the war came and we were assaulted, big time. In the end, we enjoyed exactly three tomatoes off those 16 plants.
So this year, we put in 19 plants. As of this week, all 19 plants are striped clean of tomatoes, and we managed to get only one tomato for ourselves. A second crop appeared to be coming on, but another battle erupted and the beginnings of a second crop was destroyed.
That means, in two years, we got four tomatoes out of 35 plants. That is a real defeat in the tomato war.
We have had to buy tomatoes at the store, but friends have helped some. Our friend, Jeff Messens, heard of our plight and brought tomatoes one day. We were very careful with them and did not waste any. Then, one day, our old friend Maurice Mailes called to say the grapes were ripe and he invited us out to pick some. We drove out to the Mailes farm and saw his great garden. Before we left, we had grapes, corn-on-cob and, yes, tomatoes.
What would we do without friends? We cannot seem to keep up with the nice things that people do for us.
I hope that if you have an abundance of tomatoes you are sharing with people who have no garden spot or are unable to raise a garden. Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable (I understand that tomatoes are really a fruit) in the garden and most people truly enjoy a fresh, locally grown tomato.
My sister in Atlanta told me last week that they have received tons of rain this year and the kudzu and weeds are doing well. But, a good thing is that their backyard blueberries are unbelievably abundant. Their kids and grandkids are taking picking them by the bucketfuls. My sister and brother-in-law get much pleasure from seeing the younger generations working to pick the berries and cook with them. That is good as eating the berries themselves.
So, may your gardens be abundant and your squirrels be few. I especially hope you don't get in a tomato war as we did.

Kay Lively writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.