Deer, oh dear.
One thing I didn’t have to contend with in my city garden was four footed garden pests. As long as the dog didn’t get in and run roughshod over my plants, the only things I really had to worry about were slugs and aphids. Not so here in deer central.
We’ve been pretty lucky that our property doesn’t seem to be on their main route. For most of the year, it’s rare to see a deer in this neck of the woods, even though people across the street (on the lake front) seem to have them year round. Last year I left all of my plants unprotected for several months and they weren’t even touched. Come July and August though, it was a different story. The pickings must get fairly slim at this time of year, because they suddenly start showing up in droves.
As annoying as it is to lose flowers and other ornamentals (they seem to particularly love anything labelled as deer proof), I’ve been tolerant of them and their nibbling because I understand their need to eat, and most of those things will recover eventually. Even so, I researched homemade deer repellents and started spraying my hostas and other tasty plants with the concoction. It really seems to work, as I recently had a new, unsprayed hosta sitting in a pot beside the sprayed ones in my garden, and it got eaten while the others were completely untouched.
Deer Repellent (this is a combination of a few recipes that I saw online):
- 1 egg
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 1 large clove garlic
Blend until smooth, strain, and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz anything that the deer seem to like. Refrigerate any extra for a later application. This should remain effective for at least two weeks, unless there’s a lot of rain.
We are in the process of installing a more permanent solution (deer fencing), but we recently had a breach that left me fuming and contemplating filling my freezer with venison.
When we first put in our garden, I bought 200 feet of fence from Benner’s, which worked really well. This stuff is incredibly strong, and even works to keep the dogs out. The only problem is, it’s also quite expensive, especially when you’ve got well over 1000 feet of fence line to protect. So I was understandably thrilled to discover that Lee Valley had deer fencing for $20 per 100 feet. It’s very thin and lightweight (like the netting that you put over fruit trees to protect your harvest from birds), but the packaging assured me that the deer wouldn’t go through it as long as they knew it was there. The only problem is, it catches on absolutely everything, so I was worried about birds getting entangled in it (I’d already cut a robin out of our badminton net this summer and didn’t want a repeat), and the dogs plowing right through it in their galumphing. So we decided to move the heavier fencing from around the front of the garden to the perimeter of the yard, and put the flimsy stuff in its place around the veggie patch as a temporary measure (we’ll eventually build a lower, sturdier fence to keep the dogs out). But, with all the work on the chicken coop, we still haven’t managed to finish fencing the perimeter of the yard, so we’d been relying on the flimsy stuff to protect the garden. You know where this is going, don’t you?
A few days ago, I was out in the garden and noticed footprints through my freshly planted bed of winter crops. I was slightly annoyed thinking that the dogs had somehow gotten in, but then I saw that the apple tree was looking less bushy, and the strawberry plants were bald. It was then that I noticed a section of fencing laying on the ground. Thinking that it had somehow gotten knocked down during the previous night’s wind storm, we put it back in place and thought nothing of it.
That is, until I woke up the next morning and saw the fence laying on the ground again, with one apple tree leaning on a funny angle (and half of the apple harvest laying on the ground), and the other apple tree looking like this:
Then I saw the cherry tree:
They also chewed my winter cabbages, ate the leaves off both grape vines, and decapitated the heritage bean plants that I was growing solely for seed for next years crop. An entire summer’s worth of babying these plants and they’re gone in 24 hours – grrrr!
To add insult to injury, they came back twice that day. My neighbor had to chase them out in the afternoon while we were out (and even fixed the fence for me – have I mentioned our wonderful neighbors?), only to have them return again a few hours later. It seems that once they figured out that they could pull down the fencing, there was no stopping them.
Needless to say, the Benner’s fence is back around the garden, and there’s a rush on to finish fencing the yard.
And the deer are damn lucky that my freezer is full of frozen berries…