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Deer Resistant Vegetables and Herbs
While we all plant gardens and vegetable patches intending to eat the fruits of our labor ourselves, we’re often “helped” by some pesky wildlife. Deer, of course, are one of the most common ones. I’ve compiled a list here of deer resistant vegetables to plant when you’re trying to avoid these four-legged visitors.
Unfortunately, no plant is entirely deer-proof, since a hungry deer will try just about anything. Deer are less likely to eat some vegetables than others, though.
In general, most deer resistant vegetables have a strong taste, a strong smell, grow underground, are prickly, or are potentially toxic to deer. You can try planting only deer resistant vegetables and herbs in your garden, or try planting a ring of them around plants normally bothered by deer.
Deer Resistant Vegetables
The following are vegetables that deer generally don’t like. While they may still take a nibble, they’re unlikely to decimate your patch overnight.
• Asparagus – Deer don’t like asparagus once they’ve reached their mature “evergreen tree” state – which of course is when we no longer want them either! Unfortunately, a hungry deer may check out the younger shoots that we also eat, so you’ll have to keep on top of harvesting. (Once mature, a section of asparagus may make a good cover for some of the vegetables that deer like.)
• Carrots – While a deer might take a bite of carrot greens, they’re unlikely to pull up and damage the deep-set roots.
• Cucumbers – Cucumber leaves are poisonous to deer, so they’re more likely to leave your crop alone.
• Eggplant – Since they’re in the nightshade family, eggplants are supposedly less likely to be eaten by deer. However, that same reasoning applies to their close relatives, tomatoes – but deer have eaten ours on many occasions.
• Hot Peppers – Peppers, particularly hot ones, are unlikely to attract deer. You may have less luck with green and sweet peppers.
• Onions, Leeks, and Garlic – All of these allium family members have too strong a smell for most deer. They also grow underground, which means they’re even less likely to get pulled out by a deer for eating, even if they take a quick nibble of leaves. (Check out the onion companion plants guide for what to plant with them.)
• Rhubarb – Considering the leaves are poisonous to us, you may wonder: do deer eat rhubarb? The good news is that they normally don’t. The leaves are toxic for them too!
Deer Resistant Herbs
Deer dislike quite a few herbs – many have a strong taste and smell, so deer aren’t interested in them. These include:
• Lemon Balm
Other Deer-Proofing Garden Tips
Since deer are naturally inclined to try anything and everything they can get their grubby snouts on, just planting less appealing vegetables in your garden or around the perimeter may not keep them out altogether.
One option is deer repelling spray. Once you spray your vegetables with the formula, the deer will smell (or taste) the spray and leave the plants alone. Of course, you may have to reapply the spray frequently if rain washes the solution away. The good news is that you shouldn’t have to resort to those awful urine-smelling ones – most deer repellants are either mint or spice scented, so they’ll be pleasant for you!
For a more permanent solution, you may want to consider building a tall fence or cage around your garden area. A good greenhouse is also an option.