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Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

Posted by ajsmama (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 21:23

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)?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

Market gardening without fence and irrigation is not a good thing. We have plenty of deer and a few years ago they ate 160 of my best tomato plants. I am sure fencing is my biggest cost.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

The buds don't form til spring. Go ahead and cover lightly, then add more later.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

I thought the buds formed in the early fall (hopefully near the crowns - most of the crowns are intact, or at least I think they are)?

I was going to put row cover on in the early spring, to help with early harvest and keep the rodents out. I didn't know the deer would eat them before I got them mulched. Is there anything deer won't eat?! Though they don't seem to bother my dad's garden, his is no closer to house than ours, but our woods are closer.

I do have irrigation near the house, so that's where I planted berries. Tomatoes are fenced in and "dry-farmed" out back.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

I've never known about kc's forming in the fall. Professional growers plant as annuals, so I'm assuming that the buds don't form until after planting a few months before producing. If the crowns are still there's the plant should recover.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

We have plenty of deer in our area. The Strawberry Grower (business) got a special permit (DNR) so he can shoot them. He has fencing around part of his fields, but no dog.....
One of my neighbors put up an electric fence. That worked for him. But, I got a Doberman. She barks at them, never chases them. She 'checks' the property line.. several times a day so no more deer peering at the garden. Having a dog will also keep the rabbits away.

Did you know that having a radio on in your garden will keep deer away? Wisconsin Gardener.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

Yep. I'd say a good beagle or other deer dog. We are in a sort of neighborhood where everyone has two to five acres and there are dogs galore and I've yet to see deer. My parents are a mile down the road and have them all the time. A good outdoor dog would keep the possums, skunks and armadillos run off as well. We also have the occasional coyote. I'm sure they'd be worse if there weren't so many dogs around.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

I guess the Irish setter i had at one time looked like a deer. The real deer would walk by the house and she would watch them. I used to have a pic of the dog and deer just 24' apart.

The other day as the sun set i watched a small group of 10 deer walked thru the horse pasture across the street browsing on the grass.

Next year I will put up just over 500 lineal ft of 8' high fence to enclose 3/8th of an acre of new grow beds.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

I think the breed has something to do with it. It's illegal here to hunt deer with dogs but some "run" their dogs before the season opens. My little seiner dog chases anything that's furry and moves. Unfortunately only when he's awake. Which isn't a whole lot.


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RE: Help! Deer ate strawberry plants!

Oh, we've got lots of coyotes here. Not much worry with deer right now as we got almost 3ft of snow this weekend...


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