Will deer eat tomatoes?

Answered by Willie Powers

Deer will eat tomatoes if given the opportunity. Tomato plants and their fruits are not immune to the browsing habits of deer. These animals are herbivores and will consume a wide variety of plant material, including the foliage, stems, and even the fruits of tomato plants.

Deer are known to have a preference for tender, succulent plants, which includes young tomato plants that are just starting to grow. They are particularly attracted to the leaves and stems of tomato plants, which they will readily nibble on. If hungry enough, deer may also take a bite out of the ripening fruits, causing significant damage to your tomato harvest.

It’s important to note that deer tend to be more likely to eat tomatoes in areas where their natural food sources are scarce or when they are facing periods of drought or extreme hunger. In such situations, they become more opportunistic and will feed on a wider range of plants, including tomatoes.

To protect your tomato plants from deer, there are a few strategies you can employ:

1. Physical barriers: Erecting a fence or barrier around your tomato plants can be an effective way to keep deer away. Choose a fence that is at least 8 feet tall, as deer are capable of jumping lower barriers. Make sure the fence is sturdy and extends below ground level to prevent deer from digging their way in.

2. Repellents: There are various deer repellents available on the market that can help deter these animals from your tomato plants. These repellents typically contain strong-smelling substances that deer find unpleasant. Apply the repellent according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and reapply after rainfall.

3. Scare tactics: Deer are cautious animals and can be easily startled. Using scare tactics such as motion-activated sprinklers, noise-making devices, or even hanging aluminum foil strips can help keep deer at bay. However, they may become accustomed to these tactics over time, so it’s important to switch up your scare tactics periodically.

4. Plant deterrents: Consider planting deer-resistant plants around your tomato garden to deter deer from entering the area. Some plants that deer tend to avoid include lavender, marigolds, catnip, and garlic. By interplanting these deterrents with your tomatoes, you may reduce the likelihood of deer damage.

It’s important to remember that no method is foolproof, and some determined deer may still find a way to access your tomato plants. However, by employing a combination of strategies and remaining vigilant, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of deer feasting on your tomato crop.

Personal experience: In my own garden, I have faced the challenge of deer browsing on my tomato plants. Being located in a rural area surrounded by woods, deer are a common sight. I have found that a combination of a tall fence and regular application of deer repellents has been successful in protecting my tomatoes. Additionally, planting deer-resistant herbs and flowers around my tomato plants has been an effective deterrent. While I occasionally still see deer in the vicinity, they no longer pose a significant threat to my tomato harvest.