// Twitter Cards // Prexisting Head The Biologist Is In: Oh, Deer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oh, Deer.

My new house has a big yard and a persistent deer population. Because I moved during the summer, my garden plans for this year are pretty limited to some planters I had at my last place, but I'm planning for how to garden next year with deer in mind.

Most garden vegetables are tender, tasty plants -- yesterday, a deer ate the top off a specialty, high-beta-carotene tomato -- so they will have to be protected behind tall fences or inside greenhouses. However, there are several crops which should persevere without technical assistance.


Some crops grow tall enough that deer aren't a problem.
  • Mulberry (Morus rubra)
    • We have a couple fruiting trees growing on the property and are planning to plant cuttings for more.
  • Apple (Malus domestica)
  • Cherry (Prunus avium)
Some are protected by numerous spines.
  • Black raspberry (Rubus occidentals) and Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
    • Black raspberries are growing wild on the property and red raspberries are easy to find commercially.
  • Artichoke (Cynara cadunculus var. scolymus)
    • This may be hard to grow in the short Minnesota growing season, but I suspect there are short-season varieties around.
  • Litchi tomato (Solanum sisymbriifolium)
    • This tomato relative produces edible fruit, but the fruit is not likely to be a culinary match for the tomato.  I intend to see what I can do with it in the kitchen next year and on longer time-scales, this is one of the plants I want to explore mutation-breeding with.
Some simply taste bad, to deer.
  • Common onion (Allium cepa)
    • I currently have three types of large-bulbing onions growing in planters for multiplication.
  • Nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
    • I gathered several plants of this native species, with permission, from the flower bed at an estate sale. I find the taste to be more savory and interesting than typical onion greens and am looking forward to having enough plants to harvest for the kitchen.
  • Onion chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)

I'll continue to look for more deer-resistant crop plants, as the fewer high fences I have to build, the better.