Deer can be a real nuisance to home gardeners and farmers alike. These foraging folivores aren’t too picky when it comes to finding their next tasty snack, often helping themselves to any vegetation within reach – including tomatoes! While deer don’t seek out tomato plants specifically, they will happily munch away on them if given the opportunity.
Why Deer are Drawn to Tomato Plants ?
There are a few key reasons why deer may target your tomato crop:
Tomato Leaves are Tasty Greens
Deer are browsers that love leafy greens, and the leaves of tomato plants fit right in with their diet. The tender young leaves offer moisture and nutrients, making them an appealing choice. Deer will nibble on the foliage, chewing holes in the leaves.
Ripe Tomatoes are Sweet and Juicy
Once tomato fruits start to ripen, they become irresistible to deer with their sweet, juicy flesh. Deer have a penchant for sugary foods, so the ripe tomatoes are akin to candy for them! They will gnaw right into the ripe fruits, leaving partially eaten tomatoes behind.
Tomato Plants are Conveniently Located
Deer roam all over looking for food, so if your vegetable garden or tomato patch is readily accessible, they will take advantage! Unlike other prey that can flee quickly, tomato plants are stationary meals that are easy picking for deer. Their convenient location makes them an effortless snack stop.
How to Keep Deer From Eating Tomato Plants ?
If deer are wreaking havoc on your tomato crop, there are some tactics you can try to deter them:
Installing a tall fence around your garden is the most effective way to keep deer at bay. An 8-foot or taller fence will prevent deer from jumping in to get to your tomatoes. For best results, choose a solid, rigid fencing material that won’t allow deer to peek through.
For temporary protection, try using decoys, lights or sounds to startle deer away from the garden. Deer may catch on over time, so rotate different scare devices to keep them guessing. Hang old CDs or aluminum pie pans that clang and reflect light to scare them off.
Dogs provide an intimidating presence that will deter deer. Allow your dog access to the garden area, or consider adopting a livestock guardian breed that lives outdoors and can patrol 24/7. The scent and territorial nature of dogs discourages curious deer.
Strong scents of soap, human hair, or predator urine make deer uneasy. Try hanging bars of deodorant soap, nylon stockings filled with human hair, or predator urine sachets around the garden’s perimeter. Reapply the smells frequently to mask the garden’s natural scents.
Some plants naturally deter deer with their pungent aromas. Planting onions, garlic, and chives around the garden or tomatoes may mask their appealing scent. Prickly plants like raspberries or blackberries also obstruct deer access.
Preventing Future Attacks
Even if you manage to stop deer this season, they will likely return to dine on your tomatoes again unless you take permanent measures. Here are some tips for establishing long-term deer damage control:
- Install motion-activated sprinklers that automatically scare deer away when triggered.
- Train dogs to regularly patrol and mark your property lines with their scent.
- Apply deer repellents early in the season before their habits form. Reapply regularly.
- Construct a tall, solid fence around the entire garden rather than just around individual plants.
- Plant unappealing shrubs like junipers or lavender as a living deterrent hedge.
- Remove plants that attract deer, such as fruit trees or anything flowering.
With persistence and consistent efforts to deter deer, you can coexist with these foragers and still enjoy a healthy tomato harvest. Don’t become discouraged if they outsmart your methods now and then. Simply focus on strengthening your defenses and staying one step ahead!