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cooper_ok

Deer have stripped every leaf from sweet potato vines

cooper_ok
13 years ago

First year to try sweet potatoes and they were looking great, starting to bloom and I've sacrificed lots of space in my small garden just to taste a freshly dug potato. The deer have eaten every leaf on all the vines. I put a radio in the patch, guess that just provided mood music for a lovely evening meal!

Should I just pull the vines and use the space for fall beans or irish potatoes?

This has been an absolute depressing gardening year for me. The tomatoes developed a foliage disease, also suffered gunshot damage, then they were swarmed by spider mites and little green worms. Now the deer have left stripping my apple and pear trees and started on the garden. They even tested a few okra leaves.

Where's a wildlife pest control officer when you need one? By the way, one lives next door to me. He did rid my pond of a beaver.

Should I just give up on them this year?

Cooper

Comments (11)

  • p_mac
    13 years ago

    Cooper - I'm chuckling but you have my sympathy & understanding about this years garden. The reason I'm chuckling is because until we enlarged this year, the deer always found the sweet potatoe vines that grew under or thru the deer netting fence. It would look like someone went straight across wth electric hedge trimmers! Your sweet potatoes will be fine though. They grow underground and they'll probably just generate new leaves.

    Deer LOVE okra - so if they've found the leaves, they'll be coming back for seconds & thirds until they eventually eat the whole plant. Better get some kind of fencing up, or you won't get any. At the box stores or Tractor Supply you can get a 100 ft roll of deer netting for less than $20. It's 7 ft. tall so it'll keep them out and is relatively inexpensive compared to other fencing. It's usually by the bird netting and other landscape fabric.

    DH has wanted to plant okra at his deer lease out by Henryetta...but I usually keep all the seeds for our home garden.

    Paula

  • Macmex
    13 years ago

    Cooper, if you can put some fencing around those vines, they will leaf out again, and you will probably get about the same harvest. I have a friend who had this happen, and the vines grew back leaves remarkably quickly.

    If you have a narrow patch, you can probably put up a 4' fence of chicken wire, or something like that. They won't be able to reach over. If the patch is wide enough for them to jump the fence and have a landing place inside (this is key) then the fence would have to be much taller, more like 8'. Deer can jump real high, and they can jump real "wide." But they can't do both at the same time. And, when they jump a fence they have to know that there is room for a safe landing.

    Another idea is to purchase one of those deer repellents. The one I heard about is made with blood and residue from a meat processing plant. One application is generally good for a couple months.

    I know that someone will recommend an electric fence. I know that's a good option. I am just not secure in explaining how to set it up.

    Don't loose heart.

    George

    PS. I re-read your post and realize that this deer problem is affecting a lot more than just the sweet potatoes. You might want to look into the repellent and put it around the perimeter of your property.

  • Macmex
    13 years ago

    Paula,

    If you produce your own okra seed you can give your hubby enough to plant on his hunting sight. It's really easy. One simply needs to decommission a couple plants about 5 weeks before the average first frost date. Let the pods turn brown on the plants. Later, after harvest, you can split them and strip out the seed.

    George

  • duckcreekgardens
    13 years ago

    I used a bit of blood meal last year around my sweets to repel the deer. It has to be reapplyed after a rain though and it's a bit pricy

    Also Milorganite will repel deer, but is not labeled to be used around vegetables, but around the perimeter should be fine.

  • mulberryknob
    13 years ago

    You can buy a spray bottle of Deer Away at WM and Lowe's. Human hair also works to repel them so may want to talk to a barbershop. Blood meal works but attracts dogs, possums, buzzards.

  • cooper_ok
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks everyone. It's good to know the potatoes will survive. I'm going to try the deer netting and repellent. There's a Tractor Supply just south of Tulsa. Next year's garden will be in my former goat pen. I'm killing the bermuda grass this summer with black plastic. There's a 7 ft. chainlink fence around it. Maybe that will keep the critters at bay.
    Paula, I live near Henryetta. Your husband should have good hunting here, there seems to be an ample supply.

    Thanks again.
    Cooper

  • p_mac
    13 years ago

    sorry Cooper - don't mean to hijack the thread but I've gotta ask George a question about okra seeds.

    George - uh-oh....is that how you save okra seed? I've just always saved pods that were too tough for eating, sun-dried them and then harvested the seeds from that. This may be part of the reason I've been "okra challenged" this year!!! Is the cold of the first frost necessary to age the seed? I did buy seeds too from a garden center but really didn't have much better luck with them. I think it's either my dirt or my ways.

    Talk about a light-bulb moment.....duh!

    Paula

  • crm2431
    13 years ago

    The deer were mowing down my strawberries until I crushed up some toilet bowl DEODORIZERS and scattered it about in chunks, you could hear them at night stay off a ways and snort, but they left the garden alone. you have to reapply after a rain. The urinate around the edge of the garden never hurt either.

    Charlie

  • Macmex
    13 years ago

    Paula, I don't believe that frost is necessary for the seed to mature. But I hate to let my plants go to seed until I've enjoyed as much okra as I can.

    In the past I used to wait too long before letting pods mature. They would get tough and even lose their color once the plants died. But the seed, though it looked good, did not keep its viability well until spring. It had not had time to store up the necessary reserves for that. So now, to make things simple, I simply plant my okra in two patches. One patch gets picked right up until frost. The other gets turned to seed production with the first cooler nights (can't remember if that's in August or September). This way the seed really matures before I harvest it.

    I can't be sure what was the cause of your problem. There are various possibilities. I would not rule out the possibility that the store bought seed may have been exposed to heat, which would harm it. Another problem with okra germination is cool soil. If the soil isn't warm the seed may rot before it germinates.

    BTW, this I've experienced this same issue with seed production of asparagus beans (yard long beans). To get good plump seed I have to stop picking while temps are still pretty high. If I wait till nights get cool, the seed does not mature properly, affecting future germination.

    George

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7
    13 years ago

    Cooper,

    For what it is worth, the deer haven't gotten into our garden but once since we put up a 7' fence around it.

    The one time that they got into it, it was because I left the gate open overnight. THAT experience taught me to check and double check to make sure the gate is always closed early in the evening.

    I think the fence will keep those critters out, but remember not to plant anything too close to the fence because the deer will devour every leaf that grows through the fence to "their side".

    Dawn

  • Robert Senn
    2 years ago

    Hire Elmer Fudd. Where's them Rascally deer.