I love to grow tomatoes. But one day I came out to my garden to find 5 of my Roma tomato plants eaten almost all the way to the ground.
I wasn’t sure if it was deer eating my tomatoes or rabbits. It took me a little while to figure out who the culprit was, but I decided to build a fence.
Then I went on a hunt to find out what was eating my tomatoes and how I could keep them from doing so.
Do Deer Eat Tomatoes Off the Vine?
Yes, deer will eat tomatoes right off the vine, as well as eat the tomato plant itself. And they’re not the only animals that eat tomatoes off the vine!
Deer need to consume a lot of food to stay healthy, so they will eat quite a few varieties of food, including tomatoes.
What Do Deer Generally Eat?
As herbivores, deer often like to snack on bushes, plants, fruit trees, and nuts or acorns.
Aside from tomatoes, deer also like to eat peppers, squash, cucumbers, beet greens, beans, grapes, and strawberries, as well as other vegetables and fruit.
Aside from those fruits, they will eat almost any type of leaf, including beet greens, cabbage, broccoli greens, and even sunflower greens. It seems like almost nothing in the garden is safe!
Do Deer Eat Tomato Plants?
It is a known fact that deer can eat tomatoes. They also eat the leaves and stems of tomato plants, but they don’t like eating the fruit itself.
Under normal circumstances, a large group of deer will be able to completely destroy your garden’s crop in no time at all. However, there are some ways you can keep the deer from eating your vegetable plants.
How Far Do Deer Travel for Food
Deer will travel anywhere from a half mile to a mile to eat each day. That means that even if you don’t live right near the woods if they’re pretty close you could have deer coming to your property looking for food.
And tomato or other plants in your garden might just be what they stumble upon.
How Much Do Deer Eat Per Day
A deer can eat around 6-8% of its body weight each day.
That means a deer that weighs 160 pounds can consume around 10-12 pounds of food per day. That’s during the spring, but during the winter they can still eat between 4-5 pounds each day.
That’s a LOT of food – and a good reason to keep your garden plants protected.
How to Keep Deer Away From Your Tomato Plants
You can keep those deer from eating your tomato plants by covering them with netting materials. You may also want to add some kind of chemical spray that will keep the deer away from eating your plants, and tomatoes too.
Soap on a string – Irish spring soap is one of the brands that have a very pungent smell which can keep them away for sure.
1. Motion-Activated Sprinkler
This is my favorite and most effective method for keeping deer, squirrels, birds, and other animals from eating my tomatoes.
Here is a video of me testing the sprinkler in action in front of my raised bed:
Deer can be skittish, so hearing loud noises and seeing a lot of movement can scare them away. A motion-activated sprinkler can absolutely do the trick.
Make sure you set up a trail cam to watch all the animals run as fast as they can away from your garden 🙂
A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.
2. Red Cat Eyes
These fake red eyes are great for keeping nocturnal animals out of the garden, and while deer aren’t fully nocturnal, these work for keeping them from eating tomato plants.
3. Garden or Deer Netting
It’s not called deer netting to keep out rabbits. 🙂
If the netting is set up the right way, it can keep deer out. But if you just set it up the same way you would a fence, they can easily jump it. It really should be placed overtop the garden, instead of as a fence.
4. Deer Repellent Sprays
This stuff is pretty gross, and no wonder rotten eggs work to keep deer out. The main ingredient in this popular spray is whole egg, followed by garlic and cloves. Gross, but those pungent smells really do help keep deer out.
5. Nylon Stockings with Soap
Got some extra Irish Spring soap laying around? Add it inside of a nylon stocking and hang it from a nearby tree branch. This scent is quite good at keeping deer out of the area.
6. Companion Planting
You can also use an age-old method of companion planting, which is essentially planting other crops and vegetables that act as deer deterrents.
Some deer-resistant plants include:
- Various types of sage
Deer are not fans of strong smells, and that’s exactly what garlic offers.
- Fend Off Sticks – Garlic odor
Here are some other deer resistant plants to try out including flowers, vegetables, and perennials.
7. Plastic Owl or Scarecrow
Deer can easily jump short fences, so if you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to put up a wire fence that is at least 7-8 feet tall.
You can also invest in an electric fence to help keep your vegetable garden and precious tomato plants safe.
Fences also help keep out animals like rabbits, raccoons, and more.
9. Hot Pepper Spray
Similar to the deer repellent above, hot pepper sprays are great for keeping them out of the tomato patch.
10. Animal feces or Urine
I know, I know, this sounds gross. But the scent of urine is a predatory marker, so having your dog or a human do their business around the garden can be a good thing.
11. Get Rid of the Bird Bath in Garden
If you have a birdbath in your garden, they will try and use it as a water source. Once they’re nearby, they’ll realize there is some free food nearby. Take away the water, and you can help ease some of the destruction. Although if you’re struggling with birds eating your tomatoes, having a birdbath can keep those feathered friends from eating your plants.
If you’re not sure if deer are the ones eating your tomatoes, check this list of other animals that eat tomatoes to see if the signs point to another culprit.