Archive for the ‘Pests and other Garden Foes’ Category

Deer_Wanted-Poster2015Here in British Columbia everything that is normally lush and green has turned crispy and brown. With all the the unusual hot, dry weather we’ve been having, watering twice a day is a must and there are always a few plant casualties. However, all your watering efforts to what’s left of your still green garden has not gone unnoticed. The lush bounty before you has made it a tempting garden buffet for the deer. That’s right….deer have been reported to be roaming in urban downtown Chilliwack!
Deer are one of the most beautiful woodland creatures you’ll ever see. Big brown eyes, long eyelashes, graceful legs and if you buy into the whole Disney thing it’s the most innocent of all creatures. The reality is that they are tick, Lyme disease carrying creatures with four-compartment stomachs that allow them to make short work of all your gardening endeavors. Apparently Bambi and his buddies can eat 10 pounds of flowers, plants, and trees a day!
If you have ever had a garden where there are deer you know what I am talking about, however living in an urban area you might not have ever had to deal with this issue. In order to keep the deer from turning your garden into the all you can eat buffet here are five options for dealing with deer in an urban setting:

Option 1-Fences and Cages
Deer have been known to jump over eight foot fences but for the most part an eight foot fence is an adequate deterrent to keep them out. The fencing must completely enclose the area to be protected as the deer will simply make a new trail in the fence opening in order to get to the delicious fixings in your garden.
Alternatively, you can place cages around individual plants or groups of plants. I have a “Guerilla Garden Accomplice” who used to have a huge problem with deer when she first moved to Princeton. Her husband used steel and wire to build cages around her flower gardens so the deer wouldn’t eat all her flowers. It wasn’t exactly decorator friendly (it looked like her plants were in jail) but it did solve the problem. The downside to this is that fencing/caging can be expensive (especially if it’s on property you don’t own) and who really wants to be out in this heat building a fence anyways.

Option 2-Scare Tactics
Loud sounds and motion devices will frighten deer temporarily but the deer quickly adapt to their surroundings.
This is true whether the devices move continually or when triggered by the presence of deer. Once the deer gets used to it they will determine that it doesn’t present a threat and then they will just stroll on into your garden like they have dinner reservations.
The only for sure scare tactic that works on deer is a having a dog. If you garden on someone else’s property, you live in a strata complex or belong to a community garden this may not be an option. However a dog serves as both a noisemaker and a moving object and it also presents a threat to deer. Because of the threat a dog poses, it will be an effective deterrent unless of course it happens to be on a leash, locked up or looks like my dog Salsa who is just too busy being fabulous to worry much about deer.

My Fabulous dog!

Option 3-Make It Unpleasant
It’s a fact-no one ever goes back to a bad buffet and this includes deer.
Apparently you can treat your garden with various bad smelling/tasting concoctions that act as homemade deer deterrents. They can be sprayed onto the plants or around the garden to keep deer from munching on your plants. For instance one of the options is “Coyote Urine” which can be bought at Canadian Tire. One old timer even told me that human urine will also work as a deer deterrent. My personal opinion is that PEE SHOULD NEVER BE AN OPTION FOR DETERRING DEER! After all it’s a garden, not a potty…although the neighbor’s cat seems to have a totally different opinion on this subject.
If you are looking for a better smelling alternative there is documentation that bars of soap, particularly “Irish Spring” or “Dial” are said to be very effective at keeping away deer. Apparently you drill a hole in the bar of soap, tie some string on it then hang it up where the deer are eating your plants. I think a bunch of soap hanging from trees would look weird, but you could have some fun with it. Start a neighborhood rumor that you’ve rented out your property for a huge amount of money to a bunch of nudist’s and you’re supplying the soap on a rope for the outdoor showers and see how long it takes to get back to you.
A hairdresser also once told me that she has a customer who swears that human hair keeps deer away. He asks her to save the clippings so he can sprinkle it around his plants. Apparently, even deer don’t like finding random pieces of hair in their food.  However, I don’t really like the idea of hair mulch in my garden where I also happen to grow some of my food, if you know what I mean.

Option 4-Deer Proof Plants
Sorry, no matter what you may read on the Internet, there really are no deer proof plants. If food is scarce deer will eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, however the Old Farmers Almanac has a list of Deer Resistant Plants that if planted in your yard just might help you to make your neighbor’s garden look like a better buffet.

Option 5-The F Bomb!
Just saying…if all else fails …and you’re not a vegetarian…..
Go all Gorden Ramsey, and start dropping the F-bomb while looking up Venison Recipes!