Deer-Resistant Gardening

As majestic as deer are, they are a nuisance in the garden. Their voracious appetites from late fall to early spring will quickly damage and destroy a garden making it impossible to harvest. Although a deer-proof fence is the best insurance against deer damage, landscaping with deer-resistant plants is a more aesthetically pleasing alternative.

Why Deer Don’t Like Certain Plants

Deer eat a variety of vegetation including woody plants, grasses, fruits, ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and garden vegetables. What they normally avoid are root vegetables (which require digging) and prickly vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes with hairy leaves. Certain plants, such as rhubarb, are toxic to deer.  Sharply-odored cultivars like onions, garlic and fennel are not palatable to deer also. Similarly, strongly-scented marigolds and herbs can direct deer away from favored munching plants.Deer do not like plants that are prickly such as watermelon, squash and cucumbers.

Vegetables to Plant

Most deer will bypass the following vegetables and herbs:

Vegetables

Asparagus
Carrots
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Fennel
Garlic
Globe Artichokes
Leeks
Peppers
Rhubarb
Tomatoes
Onions

Herbs

Basil
Chives
Dill
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Mint
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme

Some other moderately safe plants for deer-resistant gardens are:

Vegetables

Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Chard (safest in summer when the deer have other food choices)
Corn
Kale
Melons
Potatoes (reports of deer eating “toxic” potato leaves are becoming common)
Rutabagas
Summer Squash
Winter Squash

Herbs

Basil
Cilantro

For a complete list of vegetables and herbs that are deer-resistant, click here.

Bear in mind that when food sources are low, deer will “browse” on anything.  Further, a large deer population can create competition for food, causing deer to eat many plants they normally wouldn’t. As an added measure, spraying your garden with a deer repellent will also help to keep them from browsing your garden.

Keep these vegetable and herb suggestions in mind when you are planting a garden that may be exposed to deer. This way, you can feel more secure knowing that your vegetables and herbs are not the main course for a browsing deer.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 9th, 2013
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  • Deer attracted to a garden can also be meat for the freezer. Particularly when snaring them, so you don’t have to hunt 24/7. But this only works in a situation where the government is too busy to be concerned. In today’s political climate, trapping deer is (as I understand) illegal in all of the states, and you might be blamed for baiting if you hunt them. Just something to keep in mind for a “without rule of law” situation.

  • Bill

    Tess, I’ll trade your deer for mine, mine love green pepper plants, swiss chard and beets!

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