I have some beds outside of our deer-fencing that I'd like to try growing some cucurbits in. Particularly winter and summer squash, though cukes and melons would be good too. Most modern cultivars have been bred to reduce thorns, spines, and general prickliness for ease of harvesting. Can anyone recommend some cultivars that are still fairly pokey?
Last year I planted some leftover seeds from a mini pumpkin mix and the deer ate all the leaves and flowers off of them early in the season. They must not have been too yummy because they only ate them once. Of the 6 plants, only 2 recovered, yielding 1 mini pumpkin.
When I lived in New Jersey, we had deer eat holes in the sides of all our watermelons and cantaloupes. But they never ate the leaves or vines. Back then, I didn't put much effort into gardening, so I never worked up a solution. I simply bought melons at the farm market down the road.
I wonder if you slipped a stocking from panty hose over the young fruit if it would deter the deer. It might be stretchy enough to expand with the growing fruit. Just a thought.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Doing a bit more reading it looks like breeders avoid the large prickly trichome trait as it scratches the squash skin when it's windy and it also irritates the skin of people harvesting the summer squash. But if it helps keep insects and mammal damage down I'd be all for putting on a pair of gloves. I'm not a big fan of breeding out plant defenses and would love to breed them back in.
Joseph - We have a lot of fawns that seem to be more willing to sample plants than the adults. I think that if I'd planted a lot more then they would have lost interest and left more of the plants alone.
Su - That might work. However, I've never been able to get any melons to set fruit so it's a problem that I currently don't have!
Greg - I'm not finding any seeds for that particular cultivar, only a C. maxima called Zapallo del Tronco. It doesn't look as thorny though.
I keep a blog over here: bramblewoodhill.com
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.