Here's some tips about keeping the deer away....
The best repellent, hands down, is a roving dog. Short of that, store bought and homemade repellents have smells—eggs, hot sauce, coyote urine--too mild for gardeners to notice but they deter deer. Temporarily. One or more rains may wash it away and you’ll have to reapply it. Some bold gardeners are collecting, diluting and spraying their own urine—very cost-effective and “natural”. Some gardeners have luck with sprinklers connected to motion detectors or with battery powered attractants that zap a deer’s nose with a mild shock. Upside: repellents are cheaper than fencing. Downside: may have to reapply in response to weather. At the many sites where I’ve given my Deer-Resistant Garden program, I’ve heard good reviews of repellents from www.IMustGarden.com.
Photo: Benner brand deer fencing at the Durham Academy Lower School vegetable garden.
#2 Deer Fencing
Here I want to offer a few rules of thumb:
1) If they can’t see into your garden, they probably won’t jump in, so a 6’ wooden privacy fence can work.
2) Even a short picket or wire fence (4’ high or so) can keep deer out, if the width of the fenced area is too narrow to get a running start for jumping out, say 8’ wide or less.
3) A black plastic deer fence of 7’ height will keep deer out, not because it’s too high for them (they can jump about 10’ with a running start) but because their eyes can’t make out the actual height of the nearly invisible fence. They are afraid it might be over 10’ high because their eyesight—made for detecting motion in the woods—can’t sort out fine details like the thin lines of the deer fence.
4) Ken Dawson, an Orange County, NC organic farmer, keeps deer out of his lettuce fields with a knee-high electric fence. The deer could jump over it, but he puts a daub of irresistible peanut butter on a square of aluminum foil on the fence every 20’ or so. One mild zap trains them to move along.
5) Chapel Hill, NC garden designer Matt Arnsberger theorizes that normally resistant plants attract deer when they are first planted because the leaves are so plump and lush from the fervent watering and fertilizing they receive at the nursery. Protecting new plants with individual fencing for a year or two—until they get “leaner and meaner”--can be worthwhile.
...more about deer resistant plants tomorrow....