Sunday, January 24, 2010

Deer, Oh Dear!

I may be about to get my come-uppin's.  For several years, I've had people ask me over and over how I manage to keep the deer out of my gardens.  Max's Garden sits at the very back of Our Little Acre, only protected by a split-rail fence on two sides and you know how much a fence like that can keep out. Nothing. But I've been a little smug about how deer leave my gardens alone.

A field is on the other side of that fence and depending on the rotation schedule, grows corn, soybeans, or wheat.  On the other side of the field is a creek, formally known as Cunningham's Ditch, affectionately known to us as The Creek Behind Our House.  There are many trees along the ditch and the sloping banks of the ditch are pretty thick with native shrubs and smaller trees, providing good cover for wildlife.

A Great Horned Owl visits regularly and will even perch in our large oaks in the back yard, but he prefers to spy on us from the ditch trees.  No doubt he's hoping to find a kitty snack, but our cats are too smart for that nonsense.

Deer have been seen in the field, as close as 50 yards from Max's Garden.  Last summer, they watched as we harvested vegetables.  Day after day, they'd peek over the top of the wheat at us; they were wary and so were we.  But no signs of them actually being in the garden ever materialized.

I'd seen tracks in the mud one spring a few years ago and promptly purchased some PlantSkydd to spray on the split-rail fencing.  Either they moved on to greener pastures or the PlantSkydd worked.  No signs of deer entry were seen again.

Yesterday, I took a walk-through of Max's Garden because the temperatures are warm for this time of year and the snow is melting.  I wanted to see how things looked, halfway through winter, and there in the snow, I saw them.  Lots of them.


From what I can tell, they haven't been munching on anything.  And they're very polite deer, only walking in the paths, with the exception of one tromping step in the middle of the dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln').

I'm not taking any chances though. I'm ordering some deer repellent today.


Peg Wiggins said...

Oh boy, this might be the beginning of big adventure in your gardens.

Every time my husband and/or son 'harvest' a deer, the hostas say 'Thank You'.

Good luck, Kylee!

Unknown said...

Deer can be a problem for the garden, that is for sure. One possible solution is to establish a feed plot for them some distance away from the garden, with the thoughts that a full deer will avoid the contact of near humans. Another idea promoted is the plant excess, so you have extra for the deer. Never heard of anyone liking that one.
So without a dog to sound the alert, good luck with the Bambi crowd! :-)

Unknown said...

I don't know what it's like in Ohio, Kylee, but here the problem would be greatly reduced if the Dept of Natural Resources would open the hunting season to shooting does and not just bucks. For some reason, they haven't yet done that, but the constant outcry by farmers and gardeners who have their plants decimated by these eating machines may tip the scales one of these days.
Let me know how you fare with deer repellent. So far our donkey has been an efficacious deer repellent. So far...

Chiot's Run said...

They mow down just about anything they can here, except hostas, which is weird. I can't have roses, my poor fruit trees and blueberry bushes are tiny stumps and they love eating my hydrangeas as well. Too bad we live in a gated community surrounded by association property that doesn't allow hunting.

Until we move I enjoy each bit of venison and think about the little rats that eat all of my stuff, even though the one in my freezer came from a few counties over.

I've simply learned to plant and enjoy things they don't eat, and I grow my peas and carrots elsewhere.

Layanee said...

Great shot of Bambi in the grass. You have my sympathy as the deer can be quite a constant nuisance.

Kylee Baumle said...

Peg ~ Thanks, Peg! Time will tell!

Rick ~ Seems like they should have plenty to eat with all the little woods and nut trees around here.

jodi ~ I've only ever used PlantSkydd that one spring and as I said, they stayed away. Romie says we're allowed to kill does here.

Chiot's Run ~ I've never even had to research or think about what deer like or don't like. Guess I will now, but I'm hoping they won't be back. There's plenty for them to eat without dining at my garden banquet!

Layanee ~ That's the wheat they're in and I imagine they eat that. I'm hoping their recent visit is just a fluke!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Kylee, I love the photo of the cute face staring right at you!! ;-) Back to Spring Planning. ha.?

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Hi Kylee, maybe the prints in the snow are piggy snouts...think? haha. Sorry to see the deer venturing closer to your garden.
That is a great photo of the deer looking over the grasses at you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

With all that snow cover they are probably getting desperate for something to eat.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee those were nice shots .. even though they are pesky ? .. the most we have to worry about here are mean mannered raccoons and rude cats ? haha .. I use Montreal Steak Spice as a type of critter ridder and it seems to work .. now what it would do with deer .. well they may just find the garlic appealing ? LOL

Where fibers meet mud said...

Love your blog - This is going to sound crazy - but I have a Dyson vacuum and a dog - when I empty to cannister over the day lilies and the rose bushes the deer stay away - they eat other things like hostas and pacasandra - but leave the roses and lilies alone - seems to be a fair solution - my vegetable garden is protected with deer fencing - way to big to dust with vacuum debris.

Joseph said...

Ugh... deer are the WORST. Start with the repellants now! -- deer are creatures of habit, so once they get used to coming to your yard it becomes almost impossible to convince them to leave. I've had the best luck with a product called... wireless deer fence? Maybe? I can't recall the exact name. Anyway: It smells good to them, and when they come close to sniff it, it zaps with with a mild electric shock. Surprisingly, it has worked for me (hope it keeps working!)

garden girl said...

Oh deer Kylee! I hope they stay away. They used to hunt them at my mom's, but now with the appearance of chronic wasting disease,( they no longer hunt them, and the herds have grown larger and do more damage in spite of all the predators they have up there in the woods.

Here, I'm glad they mostly keep to the fringes of our subdivision. We do occasionally see their footprints in the snow in winter, oddly enough, mostly on the driveway and up to the garage doors. The ridiculous numbers of rabbits here are the main garden threat.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Stupid greedy pigs! You have my sympathy. Ever since the property to the north of my house was redeveloped and the fence taken down, the deer have made a circuit munching their way through my front garden. Buy several different brands of repellent and rotate your use of them so the deer don't get used to the smell. They are worst in winter, when they are hungry enough to try eating just about anything. (They sampled my Sedum seedheads & spit them out.) I also recommend wrapping any vulnerable shrubs with chickenwire until winter is over and there is more to eat outside of your garden. Good luck.

Lona said...

I wish I could say they leave my gardens alone. They stayed away from my flowers for the most part until last year and they were terrible. By Fall they were eating everything in sight. They are getting braver around here as food gets scarce. The fields near your home helps to keep them at bay a little which is good.
The picture with the head sticking out above the field was terrific.

IlonaGarden said...

i found a number of those tracks this year, too. More deer or colder winter? -don't know.

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