Cardinals in a tomato plant

Cardinals nesting in Tammy Waldrop’s cherry tomato plant

Though it seems unlikely that birds would build a nest in a tomato plant, they’ve done it twice in Tammy Waldrop’s garden in New Caney, TX.



The first nest of cardinals was built in a Sungold cherry tomato plant back in 2006, about the first week of June, Tammy says. “A couple weeks or so later, they feathered out and left the nest. However, neither the babies nor the mother ever pecked on any of the tomatoes.”

The next year, there was another nest in a cherry tomato plant. Because Tammy rotates her crops, the plant was about 20 feet away from the prior year’s plant. Tammy says the birds didn’t seem to mind her presence: “In fact, I’d peek in on them and make a cheeping sound. That would really get the babies going! I had just made that sound when I snapped the picture. I didn’t over-do this, though. Just a few times.”

The birds weren’t disturbed by any animals in the area, but Tammy’s three dogs were curious. “Our garden is gated, but whenever I went out there the dogs would follow and one in particular, Gracie, would head straight to that bush and try to get a glimpse of what was going on. Since then, there have been no new nests, but Gracie runs out each spring and inspects all the tomato bushes — just in case!”

Kitchen garden

Tammy’s kitchen garden is laid out in a pattern of nesting, L-shaped beds with an arbor on one end and a green wheelbarrow in the middle.

Gardening in Texas is challenging because of the extreme heat in summer. “We have two growing seasons: spring (basically March 1 to July 1) and fall (September/October to December). But really, there is usually some kind of crop in the garden, even in the extreme heat and the cold. Right now I have garlic and lettuce in the ground. July is pretty brutal and nothing is in the garden, except for maybe okra and the peppers just hanging on.”


Tammy: “I knew there was a reason I kept this wagon! Perfect for hauling a colorful harvest of beets.”