“I have put up a fence, a scarecrow, dog hair, a windmill, aluminum pans, liquid fence and still the deer come in at night and eat off my peas, cukes, and beans. I just called today to talk to wildlife pro from the county to see if they can do something as I live in town and the deer don’t belong here. What else can I do? Thanks for any help you can provide.” Question from Sylvia of Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Answer: Deer are such a nuisance and will eat up crops down to the ground quickly if given the chance. Physical barriers are better than any available chemical deer repellent, so opt for these if you want to really protect food crops from these monstrous four-legged pests.
Was your deer fence tall enough? Fences are truly the most effective means of control, but they have to be considerably tall (7-8 feet high) to keep deer out. If your fence was shorter, then I would try fencing again. A rugged, permanent fence, like a chainlink fence, will be expensive, but there are other less expensive options. Poly deer fencing is reputed to be very good and pretty affordable. You could also take a comparable but even less expensive route and create a wood-framed fence to support a mesh of lightweight deer fencing. This type of fence will work well as long as the fence and entryways are fully secured.
This means surrounding your vegetable rows or trellises with surrounding supports and covering them with strong netting or floating garden fabric secured well around the plants. Movable hoop frames covered with summer-weight garden fabric offer great cover to bushy or low-growing veggies in rows. Vining crops along the ground can simply be covered with garden fabric and firmly secured along the edges. You may get a few hoofprints around your cucumbers, but the deer should not be able to get through if the garden fabric edges are held down well.
For added protection, you may try a couple more highly reputed deer repellents to use in conjunction with fencing and/or covers. One that gets rave reviews is Deer Mace. It can’t hurt.
Deer troubles in the vegetable garden are tough and terrible; there is no such thing as a deer-resistant vegetable (maybe some deer-resistant herbs). So, fortify your barriers, double up, and hopefully, the deer will have no chance of reaching your homegrown vegetables.
Black Gold Horticulturist