Ok, I realize that most people who have problems with deer in their yard tend to have large spaces to create vegetable gardens, and those limited to small garden spaces don’t usually have a deer problem, so perhaps this is a solution to a rather unique situation that I’m in. However, I do think that my deer-proofing solutions could be adapted for larger gardens, and my container ideas might be useful to other space-challenged gardeners out there. After all, the containers in the picture above keep out more than just deer–they are bird-squirrel-chipmunk-premature picking by child-proof too!
Containers are a great way to have a vegetable garden in a small space. You can place them on a deck, patio, balcony, or any other space that gets a good amount of sun. Always buy the biggest pots you can fit in your space–these are 18 inches in diameter at the top. Also, go for a lightweight material (like plastic) rather than a traditional terracotta pot. The weight of the dirt will be more than enough to keep your pots steady, and a lightweight pot is much easier to move if necessary. Choosing a type of vegetable to grow is also important. Root vegetables (like beets, carrots, & radishes) do well in pots as long as they are deep enough and you add some sand to your potting mix. Greens (like lettuce, spinach, & swiss chard) also do fine in containers. There are other vegetable varieties that do well in pots too, but if they are on the tallish side you probably won’t be able to use my deer-rodent-child-proofing solution.
Now for the varmint-proofing: I came up with this solution using stuff I already had around from previous gardening projects. The first piece of equipment you will need is a grow through plant support (the green wire hoop thingy you see sticking out of my pots). For large pots like mine you probably want something designed for peonies or other large plants. Insert the plant support into your pot until it hits the bottom. Next, you will need some polypropylene mesh (also known as bird netting) which is usually available at most garden or home improvement stores. Cut a piece of mesh that is large enough to drape over the plant support and long enough to reach to the edge of your pot. Finally, you will need some spring-hinged clothespins (which are available at places like Target or craft stores). Use the clothespins to secure the mesh to the edge of your pots (I used 8 pins for each of my 18″ pots). The clothespins keep the mesh attached to the pots–and unwanted visitors out–but can also allow you easy access when you want to harvest your vegetables.
This is my other deer-proof, small-space food garden. My husband built it for me using posts and wire mesh that he purchased from a home improvement store. Both of the front panels of wire mesh can completely swing out and onto the top so that I can have access to my fruit & veggie plants. The front panels are attached with cable ties at the top (to make a hinge) and secured with carabiners at the bottom (so that I can release the panels easily).
I’m looking forward to sharing my recipes using all of my homegrown fruits and vegetables with you this summer. Are you growing any food in your yard (or on your porch) this year? What are your best tips for small-space or critter-proofing your garden?