The Vegetable Garden Has Been Breached! (Deer Again!)

Cucumber Plant – Deer Damage

I was startled the other day when the eventual invader leaped out from behind my shed and scampered off into the woods. I jumped because I thought the deer had gone. I thought that they had picked up and moved on after the neighbors behind us moved in with their dog.  I wish I was right. When it revealed itself from its hiding place behind the shed I was a little concerned but not overly so. Since the deer attacks a couple years ago I began a new strategy: deer resistant plants. Many of my plants are deer resistant which means as long as there is something better to eat the deer will avoid it (never count on this – if they’re hungry they will eat anything!). Russian sage, artemisia, heuchera, rosemary, sages and salvias, verbena, and all kinds of other things have been planted in my garden specifically because I knew the deer either didn’t like the scent associated with the plant or they just didn’t find the plant all that tasty.

Lettuce – Deer Damage

Like I said, I wasn’t extremely concerned. I really wasn’t too worried about the hosta division I moved to the back garden by the shed. It was small and easily replaced. But when I went out today to the vegetable garden and noticed something was amiss I got worried. I looked over at the heirloom lettuce that I was allowing to go to seed. Something was way wrong and the lettuce had bolted too tall for rabbits to nibble on.

Cucumber – Deer Damage

I checked the squash and saw nibbled off ends and leaves. I checked the cucumbers and found the situation much the same. I inspected the whole garden and found similar situations on all the greens. The colorful rainbow chard was nibbled to the stems (a very attractive feature I might add – the stems sans nibbled parts). The deer had penetrated the sacred ground of my vegetable garden. Never before in my four years of gardening at this house has a deer gotten past my defenses. I knew it was always possible since deer have been reported to jump as high as 8 feet and my fence was a mere four. It wouldn’t take much for a daring doe or bold buck to fly over my fence. I suspect the garden’s safety was in anonymity. The deer just never new it was there.

Lettuce – Deer Damage

This afternoon I located the point of entry the deer used for its commando-like attack. (What else would you call leaping fences in the dead of night for stealing from a secure location?) Then I went out and purchased some taller poles to erect a new security measure – the invisible fence. Deer don’t like running into things that they can’t see, really who does? So I also purchased fishing line. The idea is to create a net/web between the poles to discourage the deer from leaping into unknown territory. If the deer sees an easier route to nourishment somewhere else then maybe, just maybe it will leave my vegetable garden goodies alone. The important thing is that the fishing line be located around where the deer’s nose might be so that when it investigates it discovers resistance.

Rainbow Chard – Deer Damage

Another option might be to string up objects that will give the deer cause to pause. Anything that makes noise is open for consideration. Maybe some windchimes? Everyone recommends an electric fence as the best way to prevent deer from eating a garden but with two small children and a third on the way I don’t want that in the yard. Other folks recommend getting a dog. I would love to adopt a border collie but with a little baby boy on the way we don’t need an animal to take care of as well. The enhanced fence is the best option for right now.

Spinach – Deer Damage

Fortunately the deer left my tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini alone. We’ll figure this deer issue out somehow whether through reinforced defenses or special deer sprays outside the garden. Something will work or maybe it’s just time to open up a petting zoo…

7 thoughts on “The Vegetable Garden Has Been Breached! (Deer Again!)”

  1. Dave, I feel your pain! My roses, perennial phlox and strawberries were damaged by deers. They also munched on grape leaves and raspberry (!) leaves. But vegetables??? How could they? I was thinking about using a string/rope/wire around the garden Fences are not allowed here. My husband bought a "Scarecrow" sprinkler. Some people say it helps. Will see. I also brush my dog and hang his hair on the plants. You can imagine how it looks! I heard they don't like anything soft and mushy. I'll be curious to see if your new line of defence will work! Good luck!

  2. Bummer. Get that invisible fence soon and hopefully like you said they'll find 'greener' pastures elsewhere.

  3. What a shame! Small, local gardeners frequently string aluminum pie plates along the length of their gardens…I think they discourage most any beast. 🙂 Good luck with this problem.

  4. That is terrible Dave. I hope the plants will recover.
    I use old DVD's hung on wire. Don't know how this would work at night. But being in town & everybody leaves porch lights & house lights on plus there are the street lights. It's like daylight around here at night.
    I do hope you find a solution.

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