Deer, Oh Dear!

I’m trying to address the problem of deer in the garden in a constructive manner and not just rant. Our in town garden, mostly of edibles, is  favorite target of the rising deer population. Because it is rather large and spread out the cost of fencing is prohibitive. So what do we do?

Two days ago, it was dry and I sprayed a sticky blood based product all around, especially the areas where I know deer walk. Roses and pansies that the deer browse have been sprayed. It doesn’t look very attractive but should keep them from being browsed. The straw bale garden now is caged with wire fencing and covered with bird mesh. This too was sprayed as there will be nothing harvested from eaten down bales for a few months. Our raised beds are covered with bird netting which is nearly invisible and the best thing I’ve found for protecting areas. It needs to kept quite loose but fastened in place. If it is taut the deer will start ripping away at it, when loose they apparently don’t like it slipping under their hooves and are afraid of getting tangled into it. I used this at a public garden planting we maintain and planted a twenty foot circle of salad greens this summer. It took two overlapping packages of bird netting pegged in place with small bamboo stakes. This is the first year we’ve successfully protected this area.

I know there are recipes for eggs and pepper spray, bloodmeal, and other potions but in a wet climate like  Oregon they tend to wash away. Perennial herbs, with their strong aromas aren’t much bothered. Our herb garden which include various edibles was heavily damaged. We had prepared it for a photo shoot and they ate down some plants enough that we had to replace them on short notice. An evening ritual became surrounding this area with a large circle of wire. Since a newly planted fig was just defoliated last night it will get the wire circle treatment and such damage this time of year won’t really harm it. I’m tired of the deer and wish they would go away. I certainly don’t feel one with nature when they go traipsing down our street at high noon.

9 Responses

  1. I know just what you should do – as I’ve finally gotten this problem licked!

    I tried every potion you could make or buy, trying to keep the deer out of the yard so that I could grow tulips. Nothing worked.

    We live on 50 acres outside Spokane WA and have some fenced areas where I garden, but the front yard where my pond and flower beds are, were open game for the deer. Not any longer. Three years ago I discovered “Scarecrow Motion Detector Sprinklers”. We have one at each end of the front yard, and deer never come in any more. The sprinklers are a little spendy – I think they were $79.99 each – but well worth it. When they detect any kind of motion, they oscillate a large burst of water from one side to the other, and frighten the deer away. I have tulips in my front yard every year now!

    Research it on the internet and see if you want to try one. I’ll bet you are satisfied. Good luck. (Though the problem is nearly over for this year).

  2. Thanks for your comment Jackie. Two of my neighbors are using these and say they are moderately satisfied. The density of our deer population is pretty amazing and most of the does have twins, a sign they are well nourished. I may still try a couple sprinklers in the hardest hit areas. Another tip I heard today was to plant two rows of trellised berries around the vegetable garden….deer are afraid to jump over two barriers as they don’t want to get caught in between.

  3. My husband’s first garden included two rows of marigolds around it — the short kind and then the taller kind. Living in the burbs then, he was told that animals don’t like the scent, and he never did have any furry critter damage. Then again, he doesn’t know if there were deer near him, so that’s not exactly a guarantee. The only critters he did see were squirrels and rabbits, so, at least that took care of those rodents.

    Living in the city, we don’t have deer problems, but I’ve read in several places, plus saw the landscaper on “This Old House” recommend hanging up little cloth bags (to avoid it from being washed away after every rainstorm) of human hair. Deer aren’t fond of the human scent. Now if you don’t collect human hair (LOL) most baber shops or beauty saloons are more then happy to give as much as you need. I think the hair has to be replaced occasionally, since it does get “washed” during every shower.

    As someone always thinking of homemade gifts for Christmas, I keep thinking that would be a rather unique gift for folks with deer infested gardens. LOL Of course, the only person I know with the potential for such problems is my Dad, but his tomato/herb garden is very small, so he just runs 5 feet tall chicken coup wire around his, and has never had a problem.

    PS Thanks for stopping by our blog! I thought you’d appreciate the “Quasimoto” entry. LOL

  4. Hair in little bags hung around might help. We tried bloodmeal in bags and ran a string through yogurt or cottage cheese lids to make rain guards. If the marigolds discourage rabbits and squirrels that’s worth knowing.

  5. In the latest edition (January?) of “Living the Country Life” magazine, an adjunct of the show by the same name on RFD television network, an electrified deer fence was shown. It was relatively inexpensive and not terribly obnoxious as some of the deer fence can be. I do have to say, though, that being a newbie to country living, electrification sounds a little scarey. You can go to the website for more information.

  6. My daughter used a store bought spray deer spray on her roses ~ and it worked…. except for the day she decided not to spray. You have to use it all the time. So could get spendy.

  7. I have what I believe is a working soultion for deer problems. Here in NE ohio we have a lot of night time deer which just love to roam thru my gardens and even up close to the house and barn. I have approx 2.0 acres of gardens , in 10 small workable plots. In 2007 I lost -6- 50 fot rows of Swiss Chard to the deer in late June, The young plants were eaten to about 3 inc hes from the ground ( they later recovered and provided a good market harvest )…….This is what I did….I obtained several rolls of 300 foot cotton string at the local drug mart. ( 1.29 / ea )…Took some bacon from our hogs and put it into a bowl in the microwave….I did several cycles of about 2 min. and pored off the bacon grease into an old coffee can… (metal or plastice works fine.)…this kept he bacon from over cooking and the meat was still usable for salads….I then soaked the balls of string in the greas while melted…..I put the lid back on the can with a small hole to fish the string thru for puling the string out to help minimise getting y9ou hand greasy….I put four stakes in the cornes of each of my gardens and simply wrapped the string around the staks about 3-4 feet off the ground….you can get a lot of distance covered this way with not too many stakes…my gardens measure about 60 foot wide by 60-100 feet… you may want to add a stake in the middle to eliminate drooping of the string…….In my gardens where I saw foot pints from before …they were not visited again that summer….after about -1- week I applied more to the string by simply soaking a rag with the grease and running it gently over the string betwween the post again ( tis time my hand did get greasy )..I left the coffee container out side by one of the stakes with the rag in it and the sun would keep it soft for the rag work..I did this several times thru the summer because of the heat this year… far this has worked the best of everything I have tried…now that there is snow on the ground I see many tracks again…the deer are still here….good luck….Mike Hamper

    • I know deer don’t like it when they sense a barrier but can’t see it well. Perhaps the fried bacon oror was also a repellent. We did some covering wiht bird netting this summer and it works well as long as it was pegged down and we left a lot fo slack for plant growth. This really helped our peppers which regrow very slowly.

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