The Deer Resistant Food Garden

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Unless you build a tall fence, the best way to minimize deer damage in a vegetable garden is to grow plants deer don’t like to eat. This year, try planting from our list of deer-resistant fruit, herb, and vegetable plants below.

Two deer eating plums in a garden. The Deer-Resistant Food Garden.

When wild food sources are low, deer will munch on most anything. However, some garden fare is less attractive to these browsers than others. Deer usually avoid root vegetables (which they have to dig up), and prickly vegetables such as cucumbers and squashes with hairy leaves. Sharply-odoured plants like onions, garlic and fennel are not palatable to deer. Similarly, strongly-scented marigolds and herbs like mint, sage, or dill can direct deer away from favoured edibles. Certain plants, such as rhubarb, are toxic to deer.

The following is a general guide to deer resistant garden plants. Hungry deer are unpredictable and in times of wild food scarcity or high deer density may sample even the most “deer resistant” vegetables, herbs, and fruit!

Deer Resistant Garden Plants

Except in areas of high deer pressure, deer usually bypass these garden vegetables and herbs:

Asparagus Cucumbers Eggplant Fennel Garlic Globe Artichokes Ground Cherries Horseradish Leeks Peppers Rhubarb Onions Tomatillos Turnips

Borage Chamomile Chives Comfrey Dill Garlic Chives Hyssop Lavender Lemon Balm Marjoram Mint Mullein Oregano Rosemary Sage Savoury Tarragon Thyme

Moderately Deer-Resistant

These plants are safe in areas of low deer pressure, however, deer may turn to this group of edibles when favourites are not available. Take care to protect the young shoots, which are always tender and delicious to browsing deer!

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Arugula Beets (especially beet tops) Bok Choy Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Chard Corn Edible Figs Kale Melons Mizuna Mustard Greens Okra Parsnips Potatoes (leaves and flowers) Rutabagas

Summer Squash Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) Tomatoes Winter Squash

Basil Cilantro Parsley

Deer Favourites

Deer love to munch on peas and beans. The also enjoy tree fruit and most berries. These plants are strong attractors for deer:

Apples Beans Berries (most kinds) Grapes Kiwi Fruit Lettuce & Leafy Greens Pears Peas Plums Strawberries

More about gardening: Deer Resistant Plants That Attract Pollinators 10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>