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Growing your own crop of crisp, flavorsome lettuce is hugely satisfying, especially as you get such quick results! But, as with anything in your vegetable plot, there is always the worry that deer may take a liking to your carefully nurtured salad leaves. But do deer eat lettuce, or is your salad crop safe from these beautiful garden visitors? 

Do Deer Eat Lettuce? 

White-tail deer eating lettuce

Lettuce is a homesteaders and backyard gardeners’ favorite, as it is super easy to grow and gives plentiful harvests of crispy salad leaves. But we’re not the only ones to enjoy eating this super-simple garden crop, as deer enjoy eating lettuce too

While deer do eat lettuce, there is very little research on the nutritional benefits of feeding lettuce to deer. We know that lettuce is high in vitamins A and K and a good source of dietary fiber. However, lettuce is not a natural food source for deer and may disrupt their normal feeding patterns and diet if eaten in large amounts. 

The other issue is that lettuce is very low in calories and will not provide enough energy for deer to thrive. However, the high water content may help keep deer hydrated during the hot summer months. 

Will Wild Deer Eat Lettuce? 

Lettuce in a garden

If your local wild deer like to visit your garden, will they take a liking to your precious patch of carefully nurtured lettuces? 

Deer are lazy feeders who seek out tender plants with soft juicy leaves that can be eaten with minimal effort. So, of course, this puts lettuce pretty high on their list of favorite plants! Once a deer gets a taste for lettuce, it will seek them out in your vegetable plot, laying waste to your crop overnight. 

The other problem caused by deer is that they may trample your lettuce in search of their other favorite foods. So, if you want to guarantee a good lettuce harvest, protecting your plants from visiting deer is a sensible idea. 

How Do You Protect Lettuce From Deer? 

Deer are now commonplace in rural and urban environments, so most gardeners need to develop ways to protect their crops.

The obvious solution to keeping deer from eating your lettuce and other vegetables is to build a deer-proof fence. This fence needs to be at least 8 feet tall to keep deer at bay. The most common type of fencing is wire mesh attached to wooden or metal posts. 

Alternatively, electric fencing can be an effective deer deterrent. The advantage to this is that they can be placed temporarily around your vegetable beds when necessary, then removed for the remainder of the year. 

Some gardeners report that creating a boundary of rocks is just as effective as erecting a fence. The theory is that deer are not always that keen on clambering over rocks and will take an easier route instead, but you always run the risk that they might decide your lettuce crop is worth the effort! 

How Do I Keep Deer Out of My Garden Without a Fence? 

Chives to keep deer away from lettuce

If a 6-foot plus deer-proof fence isn’t an option, other ways exist to keep deer from eating your lettuce plants. As we said before, deer are lazy feeders – a bed filled with lettuce plants is pretty much an all-you-can-eat buffet for these mesmerizing garden visitors! 

But, by mixing up our crops and adding some deer-repellent plants, we can confuse deer sufficiently to make foraging in our gardens not worth the effort. 

For example, lettuces are small enough to be grown amongst other crops deer avoid, such as onions, garlic, and chives. They also can be hidden under piles of branches or protected with temporary wire cloches. 

Wild deer tend to be nervous in rural areas and will not venture too close to areas of high human activity. It is worth planting up some containers filled with salad leaves near your house, where they will be safe from hungry deer.

Plus, you also don’t have far to pick some lettuce for your lunchtime sandwich! 

Vegetables and Deer FAQ

What do deer love to eat the most? 

Deer have interesting tastes in food and can and will eat many vegetables that other animals tend to shun! They particularly like anything tender, juicy, and green, such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce. 

What vegetables will deer stay away from? 

Deer will avoid eating plants with leaves that are spiky or prickly, such as cucumbers, eggplant, or zucchini with fuzzy foliage. They also find root vegetables challenging to dig up, so they tend to steer clear of them. 

However, when traditional food sources are scarce, a hungry deer can and will eat any of the abovementioned vegetables! 

Do deer eat potatoes? 

Deer do not like eating raw potatoes, and will not usually bother digging them up for consumption. They also steer clear of the foliage of potato plants, as it contains a toxin that deer avoid eating. 

Do deer like carrots? 

Deer enjoy eating carrots, which are a good energy source and fiber. However, deer will not usually bother foraging for carrots growing in the ground, as they struggle to dig them up. They may take a nibble of the leaves of carrots, but the edible roots should remain safely in the ground. 

Does deer eat celery? 

Deer can and will eat celery, and some deer will develop a taste for this crunchy vegetable. So, if you are growing celery in your vegetable plot, it is an excellent idea to protect it from visiting deer. 

Do deer eat cucumbers? 

Cucumber plants have fuzzy leaves which irritate the sensitive noses of deer, helping to keep your crop of cucumbers safe. But deer may take a nibble or two if they can access the cucumbers. 

Do deer like tomatoes? 

Deer love eating tomatoes and will seek out the tastiest fruits as they ripen. If hungry enough, they will also eat the foliage of tomato plants. 

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