Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


May 30, 2014

Asking deer to spare my tomatoes

GLASGOW — Late one evening a couple of weeks ago, as I was driving through my subdivision, I came upon a large deer standing by the street.

It’s not uncommon for deer to visit the neighborhood. Occasionally I’ve seen as many as five quietly walking through the yards. And once I caught them walking up the middle of the street.

I like seeing the deer and typically don’t mind their visits. The only times I’ve objected is when they snack on my tomato plants. One year the deer ate my tomato plants down to a nub – green tomatoes, leaves, vines and all.

I’ve never been a very successful tomato farmer, but I set out two to three tomato vines each summer in hopes of producing lots of juicy, red tomatoes.

I either don’t water them enough, or I water them too much.

I can accept failure when it is of my own hand, but when it’s due to deer wanting a late-night snack, well, I have problems with that – especially considering how many cats and dogs are in the neighborhood. Nothing seems to really scare the deer away, except for me creeping up on them with my camera.

When I saw the large deer standing by the road, I didn’t want to take its picture. Instead, I chose to have a heart-to-heart talk with it.

Yes, I realize that sounds crazy, but I wanted to see if it might deter him from munching on my tomatoes.

A couple of days before seeing him, I had planted two tomato plants in my backyard. They had already fallen victim to what I assume was a rabbit, who also needed a late-night snack one evening. The rabbit ate nearly all of the leaves off of one of the plants, despite the bright pink and purple whirligig I had stuck into the ground beside the tomato cage. It did nothing to frighten the rabbit away.

So, I politely asked the deer to please not eat my tomatoes this year.

It watched me closely and twitched its ears as I talked. Clearly it was not afraid of me.

I don’t know if having a heart-to-heart talk with a deer about my tomatoes will work, but it was worth a shot.

I know there are other things I can do to deter deer, such as putting up a tall fence around the tomato plants, spraying deer repellent or planting certain types of flowers that are supposed to keep deer away, such as daffodils. I’ve also heard that deer don’t like the taste of rosemary and that planting it near tomato plants will keep the deer away.

All are good things I might try one day, but I’ve only got two tomato plants and it seems these methods are for the more serious tomato gardner.

Like I said, it’s been about two weeks since I set out my tomato plants and so far there has been no evidence of deer. I do have two itty bitty tomatoes starting to form on one of the vines, so maybe my heart-to-heart talk with the deer worked.

Only time will tell, but I hoped it did. I hope this is the year I have a bumper crop of tomatoes.

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