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A simple way to protect tomatoes from deer damage

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Photo courtesy of Donna Williamson

(Read caption) Cuttings from an overgrown butterfly bush rest atop a tomato plant that had been munched on by deer. Now, the deer are leaving the tomatoes alone.

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This summer the deer decided to eat my Eva’s Purple Ball tomato plants, which had been growing particularly well. Since I didn’t want to lose the plants entirely, I looked for a deterrent.

At the same time, I noticed that a butterfly bush was growing way beyond the space I had allotted for it. I know that butterfly bush is not preyed on by deer and that it has a faint aroma that may repel them.

Aha! Two birds, one stone. I pruned off the ultra-light branches of the butterfly bush and placed them gently atop the remains of Eva’s Purple Ball.

The branches are so light that the tomato plant was able to lift them along with the new growth, and there has been no more deer damage.

I repositioned the branches when the tomato grew over them, and I stuck in a few extra branches as you would a stake – they are so stiff and light that you could use many.

To protect and support next year’s tomatoes, I might use the trimmings from my spring pruning of the butterfly bushes I have propagated.

One problem solved. Now if I just had a solution to the brown marmorated stink bugs!

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Donna Williamson is one of nine garden writers who blog weekly at Diggin' It. She's a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. To read more by Donna, click here.


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