Any suggestion of starting a garden is met with "but it will just get eaten, why bother". We live in the mountains of Nara prefecture, Japan. Zone 7-9. Deer and macaques eat up any unelectrified garden.
The daycare has planted a few things for fun with the kids, but their fence is only to keep the kids inside. Deer and monkeys hop right over. Even my own plants I never dreamed deer would eat have been snacked on: daffodils, mint...and the monkeys like onions apparently.
Any suggestions of edible or usable plants that are animal proof and safe for small children who might nibble would be much appreciated!
If you use a double fence the deer won't jump in. Unfortunately I don't know of any way to keep monkeys out besides completely covering the garden in chicken wire. A friend of mine did that to her garden to keep out squirrels (and raccoons and possums and armadillos, etc, etc) and called it her "Big Top Garden". But it was a pretty small garden, and it's a lot of trouble and expense to build a complete enclosure like that.
Can you do raised beds with covers. Lots of ways you can do covers from simple hoops to building frames. Most of these show plastic to warm and protect the beds but you could just as easily cover with some type of wire. Monkeys may figure out how to lift them but it shouldn't be too hard to add a latch or lock.
Hi Amy, I know how the kids feel. Our first year out here at the new place we put enormous work into preparing and planting ten 100-foot rows -- beans, corn, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes -- the works! What we didn't realize is that there is a small herd of deer roving the area and they hit our garden hard, night after night. I tried lights. I tried a boombox. I tried spray repellent. I even tried to catch them in the act. What I ended up doing is building a nine-foot deer fence around the entire 100x100 foot grow area, plus another 50 feet on one end to get in with my tractor. So far this grow season, no deer! I see them grazing on the edges of my pasture and I know they'd be helping themselves to the garden if the fence wasn't there, but so far no trouble. You can find those 10-foot fence posts on Amazon I believe, netting fence too.
I like the idea of covered beds. In uncovered areas, you might want to try a herb garden, with particular attention to things that they don't like. Try ginger, garlic, hot peppers and other things that may taste bad to them. Trial and error mixed with local knowledge. You might have luck with potatoes. I have never had deer graze on them and deer don't dig for their meals. Hopefully the monkeys don't like them, because they could certainly dig up every one.
If your garden is rich in worms, it's conceivable that monkeys would rip out things that they don't like, if they are keen on eating the worms.
Thanks everyone for all your suggestions!
Full on cages/fencing have the best results for sure. The school isn't prepared to invest in that sort of infrastructure at the moment, but I might try out some of these designs on my own space.
Spicy plants are a great idea, and a good lesson in plant defenses...
A few plants we have tried that have been left alone so far: