Do deer eat tomato plants?

carieeMarch 6, 2009

I moved to KC,MO from Sacramento a few months ago. In Sac I had a huge garden with no deer threat, but here they're everywhere. Do I have to worry about the deer eating tomato plants/fruits? TIA!

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Do I have to worry about the deer eating tomato plants/fruits? TIA!


Yes, you certainly do, but I think it really depends on where your garden is in relation to your house and how close the deer might be.

Here at home I have a herd of about 12-15 that hang out and some do come down to the garden area which is next to the house, but never in the 10 years I've been here have they eaten anything, including my tomatoes.

But at the same time when I first moved here I was growing tomatoes at two different places.

At Steve's he had so much problem with the deer that he had an 8 ft fence around the garden and that worked well. Comemercial apple orchards in the area put up double 8-9 foot fences so that if the deer get over the 8 ft fence they'd be trapped in between the two fences.

The other place I was growing tomatoes at was in a meadow that was being converted to a commercial daylily business and their home, newly built, was several hundred feet up on a hill away from the fieleds and they weren't there all the time and the the deer absolutley decimated my tomatoes, and theirs as well, as well as many of the daylily plants.

So that's my experience, and forget it with the Irish Spring soap, the deer away products, using urine from predators and humans and almost everything else that's been touted as keeping deer away, IMO.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:31PM
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Yes they do.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:32PM
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Eat is too nice of a word. I prefer "gorge themselves", or "utterly annihilate". They wreak havoc on every plant in my garden.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:45PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

If I'm translating properly from the deer language, the term is "primo luscious".


    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 2:05PM
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I live in a small rural town where the deer will walk right by your window or down the middle of the street(usually dusk to dawn hours). Last year they ate my tomato and pepper plants down by half early in the season. I had a raised bed of foot high stumps. Later after they developed fuzzy, more resinous leaves, they left them alone, but it took a long time for the plants to bounce back. Luckily, I had more toms in containers on the other side of the building away from the deer thoroughfare. The year before they left them alone except for tasting an occasional green tom and dropping it on the ground. Maybe it depends on the individual deer, or just opportunity? I moved to a different part of the same town in December, so this year I will try nylon tulle over large cages(over containers)until the plants are good sized and I see where the deer trails are, as I noticed they seem to use the same paths daily. Maybe you can ask neighbors where the deer trails are there. HTH

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 2:06PM
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bcday(z5 NY)

Deer love tomato plants. And they can be very bold, they will walk right up next to the house and eat yew or rhododendron foundation plantings, as well as any tomato plants or other goodies they find. You need a high fence or some other deterrent to keep them out.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:14PM
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Our neighbors 2 houses up the street from ours always put out feed corn for the deer. One day they were out of town, and the deer discovered my tomatoes instead, eating some foliage and ruining at least one unripe fruit.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:19PM
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Unless you have a dog distance to the house is a non-issue here.

Because it is an urban area with little or no hunting Jackson County Missouri (location of the majority of Kansas City) has one of the highest, if not still the highest, deer densities in the state. Several years ago I read that Missouri had one of the highest deer densities in the US.

The deer tend to be worse out around East Raytown, Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Greenwood. They are also in the urban areas of Kansas City. I know. That's where I live. I get deer jumping the fence and eating my plants in the city (south of Waldo). They follow the tributaries of the Blue and Little Blue Rivers as well as areas like Turkey Creek.

I also put plants out around the Lakewood area. They are worse there.

The Kansas side of the metro area has serious problems too. I have been setting a trail of salt licks all the way to Don Pratt's place! I didnt want him to miss his Blue Springs buddies.

2007 at 11am

2005 it just stood there watching me string tomatoes at night and waiting for me to go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kansas side

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 4:25PM
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Maryland's deer population is around 300,000. And we are a small state. A large portion of them are in the county I live in (Montgomery County). This last year hunters harvested over 100,000 deer in MD, and I agruntee you it's still not enough. The reason is that suburbia is a smorgasbord. There's much more food in any given backyard than there is in a forest. Alas, my garden contributes to it. But I do my part and take down a deer or so a year. I especially like venison stewed with tomatoes!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Ok, I'm screwed(sorry about the language). No fences here, not sure why and the deer are right up on the patio. They tip the bird feeders to get that little grain!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 2:34AM
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Yes, Virginia, Bambi loves tomato, plant and fruit. But all is not lost. There are 16 acres of woodland behind my garden. My yard is a deer carnival grounds and superhighway. I spray with egg. Deer do not eat anything with egg on it. I blend egg and water, put in a spray bottle and add an anti-transpirant. This is a substance made of pine resin. It forms a thin coating on leaves that, once dried, rain cannot wash off. Since plants are growing quickly in early summer new growth has to be sprayed, about once a week. Eventually you train deer to stay away. (Or rather, you train them to eat someone else's plants.)
My question is about bears. Do they eat tomatoes? I don't want to attract them to the yard. Too many little kids around. We've stopped putting out bird feed in the summer so the bears don't come.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 10:52AM
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Solution was putting the tomatoes in containers on the front patio/deck. It's only 10x10' but has a 5' brick wall & 6' shrubs around it. Also doesn't get the best sun. I now have tomatoes that are getting there.
I miss Sacramento! I was really spoiled there with the weather.
The deer here in NKC are REALLY thick and totally bold about browsing.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 1:35AM
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I live in Overland Park & had no idea deer were so thick in the KC area. My container garden is fenced in, so I never really gave it much thought.

There are several acres of park & open space around my apartment. Usually I just had my summer battles with squirrels, rabbits & chipmunks. Last year, several red tailed hawks moved into the area. Very few varmints stealing fruit these days.

squirrel tartare anyone?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 5:32PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

Send some of those birds over here. I have enough fences for the deer but the mipchunks are eating my baby plants to the ground.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 6:12PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Yep, and corn, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, beans, peppers, eggplant, squash, pumpkin and IIRC, okra.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 11:26PM
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Any ideas what might be after sage here?
Sacramento had a lot of insect pests and the darn snails/slugs but nothing there ever bothered my sage - it was always lush & healthy. I love sage & cook a lot with it.
Here there are whole leaves missing snipped off - the whole top of the plant is missing. No holes in the existing leaves, they're either there or gone. The poor plants are now really sparce.
I posted this on the herb forum as well. It's really puzzling as nothing else out there is bothered. The sage is on a table in a container that's next to lettuce & spinach which are ok. Deer cannot get to the plants & I rather doubt rabbits would. As suggested from the herb forum I'll be contacting the local garden 'authorities' to try to figure it out. It's just frustrating as whatever it is has really decimated my 2 little plants.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 11:59PM
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Sorry, but I've never grown sage and don't know anything about it.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 12:43PM
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* Posted by spiced_ham z5 NY (My Page) on Sun, Jun 7, 09 at 18:12
Send some of those birds over here. I have enough fences for the deer but the mipchunks are eating my baby plants to the ground.*

I've never had problems with the chipmunks eating my plants, just the fruit.

I wouldn't mind if they stole an occasional tomato and ate it... no big deal. But they would climb the plant and take a couple of bites out of several, that's when they stopped being cute.

My plants are all in containers, so the way I dealt with the problem (before the hawk rodent management team moved in) might not work for you.

I placed old fashioned spring loaded mouse traps all around the base of the plants. The munks would jump up on the container, set off the trap and run away quick. The 1st couple of days I would find several traps had been sprung. After about a week, maybe 1 every few days.

I watched the process a couple of times and found out that they're faster than the trap, but they don't like that arm snapping toward them, and the "snap" sound adds to their fear.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 4:47PM
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I had two tomato plants in a 1' x 2' container on my porch. The chipmunks were taking single bites out of everything.

I put a large bird cage over the top and secured the underside so they couldn't get in. I was able to open the door of the bird cage to prune, etc.

Worked great. The munks were still able to nibble at those tomatoes that touched the sides of the cage, but not the ones further inside.

Managed to get about 20+ tomatoes from each plant.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 10:21AM
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