Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!
They didn't touch them all summer, we've had warm weather (after a couple of hard freezes) so I hadn't mulched yet, DH said there were a lot of leaves yesterday so they must have come in overnight. I checked this AM and there was hardly a leaf left! Some plants pulled out, hoof prints in the bed (soft, pawed up). I put about 4-5" of straw on this AM even though it's going to be in the 50's tomorrow, I hope they don't eat that or paw it aside. Maybe I should lay pine boughs over (I can get from tree lot down the road)? U of NE website said to wait til ground was frozen 1/2" and it hasn't been that cold so I waited too long to mulch, I didn't think the deer were having a hard time finding forage yet, and since they didn't bother the bed all year I didn't think strawberry foliage appealed to them!
I don't know if all the flower buds for next year were destroyed, I think this is the time of year when they're forming (or already formed before going dormant), is there any hope for fruit next year? How can I tell whether/which plants to just pull out in the spring to make room for new runners (and try to fence the area, or mulch earlier next year before the deer get hungry)?