A few days after my initial post here, the cobs started to be eaten every night, 2-3 per night. All that would be left is the cob with the kernels eaten away and a mess of shredded husk on the ground. I have no idea if it is thing that was eating away the silks the previsous nights. The pest got around 20+ ears of an entire small section of corn before we pulled it out (he ate all the corn except for two ears that were ready to harvest that we beat him to...omg it was so sweet and tasty!) So far he has not paid any attention to the other section of corn we have and it is almost ready to harvest.
So, the next night, my Tomatoes (that are just starting to ripen) become the target. 3-5 per night are half to completely eaten from the bottom up...the completely green ones are left alone. I started having visions of myself sitting in a rocking chair in the backyard all night with a shotgun in my lap.
I tired an organic soap, but that did not seem to stop the hungry critter. So, after losing around 30ish very large almost ready to harvest tomatoes, I made a hot sauce of vegetable oil, cayenne pepper and garlic. Before it got dark, I put on some latex gloves and massaged every single tomato with the oil mix...it takes about 20 minutes to get them all (around 40 ish with more on the way). The first night, not one single bite was taken, so I did it for the last 4 nights and still not one bite gone...yay! I notice that the oil is also protecting the tomatoes from whatever bug/pest has been taking smaller (about 1/2"-1") chunks out of the top of the tomatoes. So, I guess my tomatoes get nightly massages
After trying to listen for and catch a glimpse of our garden thief, we finally saw it last night.... I was in the back room with the door open and heard noises from the tomato bushes. I grabbed the flashlight and my hubby and I chased the sound until it jumped up on the block wall... a RAT! We have roof rats out in southern California, but I had never seen one before.
Apparently rats do not like really spicy food. I have no idea if this oil mix I am using will affect the tomatoes, but at least the rat isn't getting the rest of them.
My first gardening experience is a true learning experience...I have an long list of what "not" to do next season