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Do Deer Eat Cabbage? (Plus 4 Ways to Protect Your Garden)

Do Deer Eat Cabbage? (Plus 4 Ways to Protect Your Garden)
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If you are asking if deer eat cabbage, you are either anxious about your cabbage and thinking of everything that can harm it or you have had deer destroy your garden before.

Yes, deer love cabbage, just as much as they seem to love most other vegetables. In this article, you can find many ways to protect your garden from deer. Specifically, it will address what you can do to help your cabbage flourish.

What Is Important to Know About Cabbage?

Cabbage does best in cool weather and is okay with frost. However, the heat is harmful to your cabbage.

Cabbage is grown in many different varieties, but all of them grow heads. The heads grow in different shapes, sizes, and colors as well. But think primarily of greens and purples.

What Do I Need to Know About Deer?

First of all, deer love cabbage! Deer can eat up to 10 pounds of food each day. They eat lots of other vegetables as well, especially lettuce, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, and beans.

There are some crops that they do not like as well, which will be discussed later. However, if a deer is hungry enough, and other food is scarce, they will eat almost any vegetable in your garden—including onions and tomatoes.

How Do I Know If a Deer Is Eating My Garden?

Many times, deer will eat overnight, and you may not see it at all. You will see the after-effects in your garden, however.

The following signs may be the most obvious ways to know that a deer is responsible:

  • You will see hoof prints. Many people describe these as looking like an upside-down heart.
  • Other plants in your garden will be trampled. It will be evident to you that an animal bigger than a gopher or rabbit was responsible.
  • You will notice leaves that are torn or ripped. Deer don’t have incisors, so they bite a plant and pull, leaving a jagged edge.

How Can I Protect My Garden?

There are several choices of how to protect your garden. You may try more than one or experiment to find the one that is most effective for you.

1 – Barriers

Covers are the most effective. Use plastic netting or chicken wire over your plants.

You can also use fencing, but deer are acrobats! Your fence will need to be tall, or some resort to using a double fence to keep deer out. An electric fence is also an effective option.

2 – Very Scary

The goal is to scare away the deer. Unfortunately, deer quickly figure out if a threat is real or not. They will notice if that barking dog is behind a fence and can’t get to them. However, a free dog is one of the best deterrents, as is the urine of a predator.

However, urine fades over time and will need to be reapplied. Some choose hanging dispensers or granules. Also, some advise motion-triggered devices and sounds that work well too.

3 – Repellents

Research backs the use of repellents as effective ways to repel deer, including those that smell like sulfur or rotten eggs.

4 – Crops

There are several crops that deer just don’t like, including garlic, asparagus, and rhubarb. Planting those as barrier crops around more desirable crops has shown to be effective at times to discourage deer from munching on your garden.

Tips to Grow the Best Cabbage

Cabbage can be grown in spring or fall. As alluded to earlier, you will want to plant it early in spring so you can harvest before the summer.

Or if you plant in late summer or early fall, you will enjoy cabbage late in the year. Either of these ways works just fine!

You will want to start your cabbage growing indoors. As a general rule, many people aim for the period of four to six weeks before the projected last frost.

You can transplant your cabbage when they are three to four inches tall. They will thrive at this point, even if you plant them outside before your last frost.

You can choose to sow seeds after the last frost in spring or during late summer or fall.

Grow cabbage where there is good drainage. Rich, organic soil is best. Many mix their soil with aged compost or a purchased planting mix that is organic.

Ideal soil pH is 6.5 to 6.8. Nitrogen will help your crops in most soils.

Spacing

If you are starting from seed, plant them ½-inch deep. Space the seeds about one inch apart.

If you are transplanting plants from containers to your garden, space them approximately 18 to 24 inches apart.

You are okay to bury cabbage one to two inches in the ground — anything below the bottom two leaves. This approach to planting will take care of crooked or oddly shaped stems as well.

Many people plant cabbage in holes that are surrounded by garden fabric. This layer of garden fabric not only controls weeds, but it keeps the soil warm.

A good rule is to plant four to eight cabbage plants for each member of the family.

Growing in Containers

Cabbages grow well in containers. Most single cabbages need an eight-inch container.

Keep the soil watered, not too little and not too much, so that common problems related to watering do not occur.

Watering in Your Garden

Cabbage does best with regular watering. Weekly that is estimated to be about 16 gallons or 1 to 1.5 inches of water.

The primary change in your watering routine will be as the cabbages reach maturity. Too much watering at that point can result in cracked heads.

Growing Tips

Fertilize cabbage when they are established. It is recommended that you use a fertilizer mix of 10-5-5 because of the high nitrogen.

Other crops that cabbage does well with include:

  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Herbs
  • Onions
  • Potatoes

Care Tips

Adding mulch around cabbage preserves soil moisture, and it will keep the soil cool in warm weather. If you find that cabbage heads are small at harvest, add nitrogen to the ground next season and plant earlier in the season.

Pests

Cabbages have a motley cast of characters that can attack:

  • cutworms
  • loopers
  • worms
  • maggots
  • slugs
  • aphids

Thankfully, there are some tips for protecting your cabbage against these pests. First, a protective collar can protect cabbage from cutworms. You can handpick off the loopers and worms, but insecticides will also do the trick.

Planting radishes near cabbages repel flies and keep them from being affected by maggot growth. You can also use hot peppers.

Disease

As you have probably heard before caring for your plants, it is best to avoid disease than deal with it after the fact. If you do the following, you will help your plants prevent disease.

  • Plant fungal-resistant seeds.
  • Use soil that drains well.
  • Remove diseased plants immediately.
  • Rotate your crops every three years.

Harvest

The excellent news about harvest is that cabbages are usually ready 80 to 180 days from seed. It is more like 60 to 105 days when you transplant seedlings.

Cut cabbages when heads are 4 to 10 inches across and firm. Harvest before the weather turns hot. The cabbage will be sweeter.

Storing

Cabbage will stay fresh in your refrigerator for one to two weeks. Many people dry, freeze, or cure their cabbage in brine as sauerkraut. You can enjoy your cabbage all year!

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