• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Forest garden plants that deer won't eat

 
Posts: 13
Location: NC Piedmont and SW Virginia
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
At our weekender property in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains we have heavy deer pressure. We do our best to put them in our freezer :-) but we don't make a dent. In some areas of the woods there is not much undergrowth other than Christmas fern, which apparently is not tasty. We have areas with white pine, beech, and mixed hardwoods. We have some creek bottomland ranging up to open pasture. We do have a small number of ramps, bloodroot in the bottomland area. I would be most interested in food, medicinal, and pollinator plants. Thanks!
 
Posts: 8
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard aronia does not get eaten by deer and they make very nice berries, very nutrient-rich.
 
Posts: 4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

De Mott wrote: I would be most interested in food, medicinal, and pollinator plants. Thanks!



Hi De Mott, I want to suggest Jerusalem Artichokes. They are native to north america, the roots are edible and they can grow quite tall with a happy yellow apple sized sunflower. I know they are proliferate, so only plant where you want to keep them. There are some great YouTube videos by people about cultivating them. I have not done a search based on their appeal to dear, but I thought to suggest it for the fact it's edible and native.
 
Posts: 32
Location: Columbia MO
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fencing possible?  Good to hear hear you are eating the deer too, thats my first response when they are eating too much 😄
 
pollinator
Posts: 3113
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
320
forest garden solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A double fence around say 2 acres of land aka 2x 1200ft. That should be able to keep out the critters and give more than enough land to put in 300 tree a 1/4 acre fish pond, 3+ bee hive, self feeding and self watering chicken coop, with weekend moves. and 1/4 acres of herbs and such and 1/4 acres of bulk vegetables. It would be like going shopping on the weekend.
 
De Mott
Posts: 13
Location: NC Piedmont and SW Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

john holmes wrote:Fencing possible?

Not very practical for us to fence in 15+ acres of woods, plus we don't want to - it's where we hunt deer for one thing. We do have very small fenced in areas for gardens around the house. What I'm interested in doing is enhancing the forest we already have. We'd be ok with removing white pine and replacing with other trees, but mostly I'm looking to plant something in the woods that's more useful than Christmas fern which is most of what I see.
 
De Mott
Posts: 13
Location: NC Piedmont and SW Virginia
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aronia looks like a good candidate, thank you!
Jerusalem artichokes are appealing, but it looks like deer love them. I may try them by the creek with a very small fence.
 
master steward
Posts: 4044
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1214
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have lots of plantain and nettles so I assume the deer don't like them.

Also they do not like the rosemary plant so I am assuming it is the smell.  Plant lots of things in with lots of the rosemary.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Zone 5 Atlantic Canada
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I tasted wild Aronia berries last fall and they were terrible. Reading permies I thought they would be a dream plant because of their ability to grow in wet shade, fix nitrogen, and produce edible, nutritious fruit —- but the edible fruit part is extremely questionable to me now. Are the cultivated varieties insanely superior, or are these another berry kind of like sea buckthorn that is barely palatable at the best of times?

 
pollinator
Posts: 2127
Location: 4b
505
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eon MacNeill wrote:I tasted wild Aronia berries last fall and they were terrible. Reading permies I thought they would be a dream plant because of their ability to grow in wet shade, fix nitrogen, and produce edible, nutritious fruit —- but the edible fruit part is extremely questionable to me now. Are the cultivated varieties insanely superior, or are these another berry kind of like sea buckthorn that is barely palatable at the best of times?



Taste is such an individual thing.  I've never tasted Aronia berries, but I love seaberries.  I'm starting a couple dozen more this year so I have more of them to eat.  I have a deal with my chickens.  They get anything they can reach, I get everything else.
 
Posts: 40
Location: Ozark County, Missouri
9
forest garden foraging homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eon MacNeill wrote:I tasted wild Aronia berries last fall and they were terrible. Reading permies I thought they would be a dream plant because of their ability to grow in wet shade, fix nitrogen, and produce edible, nutritious fruit —- but the edible fruit part is extremely questionable to me now. Are the cultivated varieties insanely superior, or are these another berry kind of like sea buckthorn that is barely palatable at the best of times?



Eon, aronia is one of my favorite plants here in our forest gardens. it's beautiful and no fuss! we don't eat the berries raw, but incorporate them into smoothies (with sweeter things already included), cook them up with a bit of sugar and make a syrup (amazing!), freeze the juice for additions into drinks all year round. I would also like to brew with them. the thing about aronias aka chokeberries is that they'll never be a blueberry or some delicious fruit that you can eat raw right off the bush. but that's not what we grow them for. any google search of their nutritional qualities will far and away make it worth your while in growing them. again, see above at how easy they are to grow! finding creative ways to add them to things - i forgot to mention aronia infused apple cider vinegar! or aronia sauce for wild meats! - is a small token of our appreciation for this easy peasy amazing native shrub!
 
pollinator
Posts: 138
Location: Idaho
67
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a lot of Oregon Grape here and the deer don't seem to like it at all. I harvest the berries in August and make a sweet/tart jam or syrup out of them. Sometimes the jam goes in with blueberries to make a sauce for pancakes and sometimes it goes into a mixed drink to add color and great flavor. The roots contain berberine and are medicinal/antibiotic. Overall a great plant in my opinion. I haven't found a use for the leaves yet.
 
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: zone 6a, ish
62
forest garden fungi trees food preservation cooking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Deer ate the two Aronia plants I bought from Baker Creek a couple years ago.

In my experience, deer will eat anything and everything, and if they don't like the taste they'll rip it out for spite (like garlic/ onions).  So far, the only things they've left alone are mint, tansy, coneflower, daffodils, and bee balm.  They've also let the white mulberry seedling alone, but it could be because it's very small and gets smothered with weeds every year.  They usually don't bother the gooseberries and currants much (only a few nibbles), but they've gone after them harder in the past.  Oh, and pawpaw, they've only browsed leaves on that like once when the plants were small and decided nope.
 
Posts: 87
Location: Near Libby, MT
28
dog
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am planting juniper in areas where we have disturbed the dirt for construction. Of course the berries are probably only good for making gin, not necessarily a bad thing. But I agree, there are times when deer will eat anything. One fall they even chewed down my Bittersweet. And a very pregnant doe once knocked over the fencing around a little plum tree. They don't seem to bother the Solomon's Seal, which has a very edible root. And having foiled the ground squirrels with lavender I am going to give that a try outside the fence.

We have planted a traffic island with things that aren't supposed to tempt deer. Don't want them getting hit by the cars whizzing by. Not much of what we planted there is edible however. Who wants to eat barberry? Some Oriental lillies survive.

If you have altitude you could try huckleberry, which seem to survive the deer. And morels where there is shade and rotted wood. They are really prolific following a heavy fire season. You might have to fight the bears for the Huck's however. Good luck with that.
 
master gardener
Posts: 3436
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1251
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What you're describing is a very real problem. In many areas of Eastern North America, the deer are so prolific and the deer predators so scarce that the deer are actually preventing forests from renewing themselves. You would probably be doing your ecosystem a real favor to find a way to fence some "islands" and fill those with a good selection of whatever plants are native +/- useful and supportive to the ecosystem. By islands I'd be picturing making some circles of fence around 10 ft in diameter - that would be small enough inside that the deer might be less inclined to jump it. I'd plant a polyculture inside including local bulbs, onion-type things near the fence edge so it doesn't "smell good", things like red and black currents for birds, and a suitable central tree. Depending one what the existing tree structure is like, you could try surrounding a tree with such an island, or make them in the center of a group of trees. Either way, this sort of approach won't stop the deer from passing through your land, although make your life easy by *not* blocking obvious deer trails! (I'm sure since you hunt, you'd know that, but others reading this might not be as familiar with the signs.)
 
pollinator
Posts: 1326
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
314
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with the general sentiment that whatever you can eat, so can deer. One thing you might try is figs, they don't like them at all. Lots of herbs they don't touch. Persimmon would be a strong recommendation (they do browse them a little) but they are superior for deer season, you will have a crowd every evening when they are dropping.
 
pollinator
Posts: 326
Location: the mountains of western nc
80
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation cooking wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
in my area, deer may nibble on a pawpaw tip, but rarely more than that if ever.

in my experience aronia tends to be hammered by deer.
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
112
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the idea of a smallish, fenced area with the beginnings of a food forest in it.  Sounds like a mulberry tree (when it gets big enough you'll be sharing the fruit with them), pawpaw, and a few other things with plenty of herbs, daffodils, onion, and garlic all around.  Inside the fence the trees can grow big enough to be safe from them, eventually without a fence, I think.
 
Posts: 386
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
8
trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The deer here have different tastes. There are 1000's of garlic plants in the field next door. They leave alone  quince, pumpkins, and turnips. They ignore peaches and pears , even when I throw my trimmings under the apple trees. They stand on their hind legs to trim apple branches with the peaches and pears at their feet.
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 3436
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1251
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Pratt wrote:I like the idea of a smallish, fenced area with the beginnings of a food forest in it.  Sounds like a mulberry tree (when it gets big enough you'll be sharing the fruit with them), pawpaw, and a few other things with plenty of herbs, daffodils, onion, and garlic all around.  Inside the fence the trees can grow big enough to be safe from them, eventually without a fence, I think.

I agree! I was figuring on the fence moving to a new spot once plants seemed big enough to protect themselves. I know from reading one of Sepp Holzer's books, that he intentionally leaves the lower branches on fruit trees specifically for the deer, knowing that he will get the fruit from higher up. Mind you, he's also generous with that bone salve he makes, but I need to find a suitable pair of pots to try making it, and our Thrift shops are closed due to the pandemic at the moment. But that's an aside - if I was doing this, I would try to do it in a way the allowed me to move the fence to a new spot and either use posts that wouldn't be too hard to get back out, or use wooden posts that could be left to biodegrade, or the odd one could be tall enough for a bird house to support our feathered friends - nothing like stacking functions!
 
Posts: 161
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard that pawpaw fruit trees are not popular among deer
 
Posts: 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with Jay Angler on his Sepp Holzer suggestions and would also like to sing the praises of stacking functions, extremely helpful though I'm not very familiar with deer and how you would steer them away without fencing other than either planting loads of undesirables that have another function such as hazel for coppicing and thereby sacrificing the nuts, this would hopefully keep them away from other crop at least in the autumn or you could also plant other sacrificial crop plants away from where your actual cropping plants are. Most foraging animals will tend to return to the same spot if there is an abundance. Plus you may even create a very easy routine for culling if you know they always return to the same spot or spots.
 
S Tonin
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: zone 6a, ish
62
forest garden fungi trees food preservation cooking homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tj Jefferson wrote:One thing you might try is figs, they don't like them at all.



Either last night or this morning, they ate one of my figs down to the ground.  Granted, it was only 8" high and probably only had 6 leaves, but yeah.  Our deer will eat anything.
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 2127
Location: 4b
505
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just found Aronia and planted it in my food forest.  It was eaten by the next morning.
 
Posts: 826
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
115
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having kept the deer off my wild, rural garden, I've found they are the easiest to deter.  The real problem is the rabbits, and the packrats, and the mice, and the voles (if you have them, but don't be surprised if you do and don't know it,) and quail who routinely yank at greens that interest them.

All of the above will eat things down to the ground, overnight.  Some years there are more than others.  

I've surrounded my 1-acre garden with chicken wire turned out 6 inches at the bottom and held down by letting the weeds grow through it.  If rodents start going in and out of the wall of chicken wire there will be a little trail that is easily spotted.

The voles are always an issue since they use the gopher tunnels, make tunnels of their own, climb up fruit trees and eat fruit.  One was sitting and staring at me the other day in the greenhouse after it helped itself to a couple of whole tomato plants that were at least 4 feet high.  If I had a vole coat I could spend a comfortable winter in Alaska.  They have impressive coats.   He got Rat X, which kills them without hurting anything that might eat the vole after it eats the Rat X.  There is also Mouse X that works on mice, but don't let it near kids/pets.
 
Posts: 52
Location: Reeds Spring, MO; zone 6b Ozarks
18
homeschooling kids forest garden trees books writing
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't seem to have crazy deer pressure despite my location in a forest with precious little for them to eat, but the deer DO eat my aronia.

They have left my figs alone so far, and although they will take some bites off my elderberries, they don't seem to like those much.
 
Posts: 38
Location: North Thomas Lake, Manitoba
3
forest garden trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Buffaloberry and Wolf Willow are the two shrubs I planted in my forest garden that haven't been munched down by deer. Both fix nitrogen and produce edible berries.
 
All that thinking. Doesn't it hurt? What do you think about this tiny ad?
Gracie's backyard - a film about permaculture farming in the far north with Richard Perkins (stream)
https://permies.com/wiki/133872/videos/Gracie-backyard-film-permaculture-farming
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic