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Article: vegetable plants deer are less likely to eat  RSS feed

 
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Arggh All, Kiddin' in presumptive anticipation of deer eating squash flowers as we plan to turn a drainage trench in our front yard into a summer garden bed. This zone is outside our deer fenced garden space. While other sites say deer tend to leave squash alone, i'll get no squash if they eat squash flowers, just like we like to eat the excess of them flowers. Here cites it's OK: https://www.gardenguides.com/93763-vegetable-plants-deer-not-eat.html but even they add only likely. Anyone know if those big lovely yellow squash flowers are in the clear? Thanks, OgreNick
 
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Austin possibly has the largest urban deer herd in the world. Hard experience teaches they'll eat anything in desperate times.  There are no hard and fast rules.  In practice, they don't like to walk where they can't see the ground. The squash vines covering the ground can be their own defense if there are other options nearby.


The only time I had problems was during a bad drought when they ate all my rose buds.  I actually think it helped my new rose bush establish better because for that whole first year it saved energy by having no flowers.
 
garden master
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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That is a good article.

We did not have problems with deer in the garden until I planted broccoli.  Maybe the scent drew them to the garden?

Another problem is young deer don't always know what they are not suppose to like so they might try tasting everything.  They will spit it out only after they have pulled a whole plant out of the ground.

A strategy I use is to plant really smelly things around the squash.  I use French marigolds.  Onions, garlic and related plants are suppose to work.
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Yeah, I would go with Anne's method. I like French Marigolds because of their natural insecticidal properties at the root zone, but to deter things with sensitive noses, I like to include the smelliest alliums possible.

I would also look at a companion planting list for herbal companions that both have a fragrant component and enhance the essential oil production of herbs. I like yarrow to do the latter, and any herb that interacts with alliums to increase their nutritional density is going to make them more pungent.

Realistically, growing pungent herbs and alliums in healthy soil, topdressed with healthy, living compost and mulched appropriately, will produce alliums and pungent herbs of a pungency exceeding that of what could be expected from the same thing found in a grocery store.

Also, I remember walking my parents' Maltese Terriers around our garden beds one year when we had problems with wild rabbits. They would sniff and mark their territory, all around the perimeter, and rub themselves up against posts of garden bed infrastructure. I think the rabbits moved along elsewhere in the first week of this treatment.

Now I know my little Maltese couldn't have managed to even catch those things, never mind eat them, but the rabbits didn't know how little the big, bad, canines were that marked the garden bed.

And after they had passed, and I was gardening elsewhere and had issues with raccoons and squirrels, I peed around the perimeter of my raised bed myself. I don't think the raccoons cared, but the squirrels avoided it like cats, and it helped with some localised nitrogen deficiency.

-CK
 
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Location: Banana belt of Canada, zone 9.
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I live in an area that's like the thunderdome for plants. I've planted out so many "deer resistant" plants that get munched down to the ground that I no longer even look for a "deer resistant" tag. We put up a deer fence and the only things that go outside it are the things I personally know they won't eat, from experience and from observing my neighbors' yards.

That said I think what you can grow outside your deer fence really depends on how bad the deer problem is. I wouldn't attempt to grow any vegetables outside my fence. I know they've left my fennel alone and I've heard rumors they won't eat potatoes, but I've had deer nibble on my lavender and I've also swear they've topped my foxgloves, which are super toxic. The only thing I'm sure that they will not touch at all are plants in the amaryllis family, and even then I'm only positive about the daffodils. Unfortunately that's because they're super poisonous and, I guess, also taste bad (if they're willing to nibble foxglove but not daffs). So not much use for a veg garden even if you're willing to try nontraditional foods.

I don't know of any/many plants that are edible to humans but not deer. They might not like the aromatic herbs but they'll still eat it if they're desperate. If I was forced to plant a bed of fruit/veg outside my deer fence I would probably focus on plants that are mostly-poisonous, thorny, or otherwise unpleasant. Maybe try tomatoes/potatoes interplanted with hot peppers, with really strong garlic as a border plant. If you can somehow involve some thorny raspberries in the mix then all the better.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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They have very clear favorites here. They eat every sweet potato leaf first, and then they eat all the cataloupe leaves. After that they diversify more.  They don’t usually totally destroy anything else for me.

They don’t bother watermelon much. I don’t usually raise squash, so I don’t know about that.
 
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