This Week's Podcast: Which do you want first: the good news, or? Oh deer.
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I want to share some good news with you. I have been awarded the gold medal from the Garden Writers Association for the photography in my article “Gourd Times” for Organic Gardening magazine, and a silver for the writing. What an honor. Here’s a link to the article.
On another front: I’d like to talk about a current event – like yesterday. I had to stop my car twice for deer in a fifteen minute drive.
It has been a bumper year for deer, and from what I hear, everywhere. In the 20 years that I have lived in the northwest corner of New Jersey, I have never seen so many deer.
I thought after last year’s super cold and snowy winter of 2013-14, there would be fewer of these critters. But it seems to be just the opposite. My friend Margaret says she saw herds of up to fifty, and that her neighbors who have lived in the area for over fifty years have never seen so many. The most I counted at one time was 30 grazing on the short grass of a horse farm pasture nearby.
There have been deer in the garden, as well. When the construction at the new house started, the deer fence was taken down at the driveway. That breech along with the fact that Pippa the dog is not in the garden every day has led to some serious damage. First there were signs of nibbling on many plants. In September, the first hosta leaves were torn. By the end of October, the hostas were all mowed down. I thought that since it was the end of the growing season, the plants and I could live with the damage. But in the first week of November, the rut – leading up to breeding season -- some animals started rubbing young trees. There are several newly planted trees that do not have any bark left on their slender trunks. I just wasn’t thinking.
The best way to deal with deer in the garden is to keep them out. Deer fence saved my garden plants until it didn’t, until there were gaps in the fencing. I’ve had pretty good luck with repellant sprays that I used a couple of times through the season, but I got distracted by the other demands and didn’t keep up with applications.
Liquid Fence is probably the most popular spray. It smells bad.
Deer Out smells OK. It has garlic and peppermint. The manufacturer claims the spray lasts up to three months – it seems more like three weeks to me. But the least unpleasant odor makes it worth its use. The most effective spray I’ve used is Plantskydd. It is unsightly when first sprayed – red dots on the plants that fade fairly quickly. The big pain with this one is that it leaks all over your hands and clogs during application. It is easy to clean the nozzle and continue, but I would definitely recommend wearing disposable gloves. There is a granular form that is less messy, but dusty.
What about the young trees?
Will they survive? If the bark damage is up and down – vertical scrapes, trees may survive, but they will be set back. If the damage encircles the trunk, chances are not good for survival. As with many things in the garden – I just have to wait and see. The answer should show up in one to three years…stay tuned.