Finally, the garden is set and all the plants are looking healthy. All of your hard work is paying off when suddenly you see it—your plants are being eaten alive! What could it be?
How to Spot Deer Damage
One possible culprit of damage in the garden is deer. Deer typically feed at dawn, dusk, or at night, so try to spot them during these hours. If you can’t catch them feeding, some other tell-tale signs that deer were around include: hoof prints, deer droppings (pebble-like), trampled plants, and torn leaves (instead of neat edges).
How to Keep Deer Out of the Garden
Luckily, there are some ways to keep deer away from plants that don’t involve toxic chemicals, offensive odors, or high prices.
First, try building a physical barrier to your vegetable garden. This can be difficult as deer can jump fairly high and fencing can be unattractive or expensive. Regardless, adding fencing to your garden area is definitely an effective long-term solution worth considering.
After a physical barrier, another great deer deterrent are dogs. That said, deer are smart enough to know the difference between a dog confined to a dog run, and a dog with the freedom to roam your whole properly. If this is the option you want to go with, be sure your dog is adequately trained, and has the ability to safely roam the garden.
You can also attempt to keep deer away by creating a repellent to spray on and around areas you want them to avoid. The mixture below will not only repel deer, but many other unwanted vermin like skunks, raccoons, and squirrels. The mixture requires common ingredients found in your garden or kitchen cupboard, allowing for a safer, effective, and affordable solution.
Mix the following in a blender:
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 3 tbsp. minced garlic
- ½ cup warm water
This is a very potent mixture—be sure the blender lid is secure before turning it on. Puree the ingredients for 30 seconds or until perfectly smooth. Stand back from the blender when you remove the lid; this mixture has a pungent aroma and may irritate your eyes and nose.
Once the mixture is smooth:
- Carefully pour the repellent into a gallon-sized garden sprayer.
- Fill sprayer with water from the garden hose, shake.
- Generously spray plants and ground. We recommend starting at plants and backing away from the plant to avoid walking through the solution.
- Reapply monthly. This mixture is so potent it will last through rain and snow.
WARNING: Use caution when mixing. Cayenne pepper has the same adverse effect on people as it does on other mammals.
WARNING: This spray will bother dogs. Their noses are exponentially more sensitive than ours. Be kind to canine companions and warn dog owners to avoid sprayed areas.