In response to an earlier question about the non-domesticated animals people commonly encounter, Irregular reader Mark has asked the following additional question:
“What plants do you cultivate and experience other than the ones you buy in the store and eat?”
As for myself, I am finding that I’m most successful in cultivating onions, chives, garlic and that sort of thing. Herbs are also successes for me, and the reason is the same: Deer don’t want to eat them.
I’ve tried many sorts of defenses, but the deer keep on breaking into my garden. They’re eating tomato plants, squash plants, sunflowers. They’re even eating common milkweed, which has a milky sap that tastes so nasty that monarch butterfly caterpillars gain a competitive advantage by eating milkweed leaves to saturate their own bodies with the bitter taste, deterring birds from eating them.
This wild animal, the deer, is becoming quite comfortable with humans and the accessories of humans in my neck of the woods. This morning, a young deer walked right up to sniff my bewildered cat as I looked on from 10 feet away. The deer knew I was right there, but didn’t seem to judge that I was anything to worry about.
Of the plants that I cultivate not to eat are foxgloves, which contain a dangerous substance used to make cardiovascular medicine. The health of my own foxgloves is currently in question, however, as they have suddenly withered, right after flowering, leaves and flowers alike turning a crispy brown in the middle of rainy weather.
Now, for other readers, I repeat Mark’s question: What plants do you cultivate, not for the purpose of eating?