Vegetable Garden Price to Pay for a Summer Vacation

Corn eaten by deer
A little post-vacation surprise from deer in my garden!

Deer are abundant on our farm, but for most of the summer, they’ve left my garden well enough alone. It’s by no means deer-proof, but the tall row of sunflowers at the back and waist-high twine “fence” was enough to pique their claustrophobia and prevent them from jumping into the enclosed, crowded space. They’d come stare at it, snort at it, even poop beside it, but they didn’t come inside.

Until I went on vacation.

After spending July 4th in the mountains, Matt and I drove up to our farm to find the corn obliterated, green beans decimated, and the fences all askew. Apparently the deer had an Independence Day feast of their own, and our garden was the main dish!

Corn eaten by deer
Do you suppose the deer made a “typewriter” sound as they munched on my corn?

Eating the garden was bad enough, but to neatly shuck the corn and leave the bare cobs on the stalk – that felt a little personal. I suppose this is what I get for leaving town during the height of summer vegetable gardening season!

Honestly, after my initial dismay, it’s been a little hard to stay mad at them. The garden was irresistibly lush in the 100-degree heat, and we weren’t there to offer threatening scents and sounds (because we were swimming in cool mountain streams, like people who have some sense).

Beans eaten by deer
Bean oblivion!

I admit, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s simultaneous harvest and steam bath. And, thanks to a farm lease, some of the best grazing fields just got sprayed with who-knows-what, driving the deer closer to the house in search of a nontoxic dinner. And, to cap off the forgiveness argument, our deer family has welcomed two new fawns this year, still small enough to slip under the garden fence and kill the garden with cuteness – so who can really blame them?

Since there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, I regrouped and am working with what garden we have left. The corn and beans are completely gone, down to the last nub. For some reason, they didn’t really bother the tomatoes or peppers – maybe they were saving those for later, or perhaps they tasted the cayenne and ran for the hills.

Anyway, now that we’re home, the deer seem to be leaving the garden alone again, and there’s still an avalanche of veggies and herbs coming in and plenty of work to do. Besides, I’ve got another task on my list – capturing those cute little fawns on camera!

Further Information


  1. Here is a very low tech, inexpensive, foolproof method to deter deer from plants. Put in small wooden stakes about 1-2 feet from the perimeter of your beds (on the edge will work if you have the room. Make sure they are firmly planted with at least 6-8″ above ground. Tie clear fishing line (small, 10 lb) from stake to stake. The deer cannot see the line and when they touch it, it scares them. Has never failed for any of our plants, including figs, blueberries, and annual and perennial flowers. We have many deer.


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