Friday, February 13, 2009

What's deer proof here is salad over at your place

Odocoileus hemionus is her proper name around here (black tailed deer to thee and me) and like every other gardener without a deer fence to define the wildlife interface - I could odocoileus my handii around her sweet little neckus at times. I know I'm not alone.

Susan (Garden Chick) lamented at my last blog entry - "Oh no! I thought redbuds were pretty bullet proof when it came to deer resistance! If I stick my fingers in my ear and chant lalalalala can I pretend I never read this?"

I can totally relate.

On the other hand Jeffrey told me that I should tip-pinch my Ribes viburnifolum (Catalina currant) because it is developing long canes. I rather like the fountaining habit, though.


But he said, because the deer are not eating this one, I should do their job for them! So it can develop a more bushy habit. So deer are our pruning pals - once a plant gets over a certain age and size that is.

I've learned to protect my young plants with easy-to-assemble chicken wire and post fencing. Not pretty, but does the job. I've just taken the protection off of one bed that should be well-enough established. I tremble each day when I go out... So far so good. But when the pickings are slim, the deer will pick anything.

Also their babies are curious and will try anything once. Or twice. Each.

These cuties were walking through our property a few years ago, when I snapped their picture.

I'd love to know what kinds of deer-protective enclosures people have come up with, especially movable one for individual plants. I've been wondering if you can get old bird cages for cheep (cheep joke!) and use them over smaller plants.

The only tip I have is -- It is recommended that you not over water your deer-resistant plants. It concentrates the bad taste. If the plant is all nice and juicy, the taste may not be so bad.

Also having a dog loose about the place helps. Our standard size rat terrier has an electric boundary encompassing most of my planting areas and he is free to roam - but only during daylight hours. I don't want him to get gobbled up by nocturnal predators. (Where there be deer, there be mountain lions. And we have coyotes too.)

We've seen a lot less gophers around, too, since he's had free rein - funny thing... Though gophers do aerate and incorporate organic material into the soil - something that is funny to watch only if it's not one of your prize plants going down the tube.

Another time I'll list out the plants that deer don't eat around here. Today it's raining peacefully onto the thirsty ground, and I have flu, so I'm off to my bed.

4 comments:

Daffodil Planter said...

I live in mule deer country and have a huge redbud--but it was already about 4 feet tall when we bought the house, so maybe it was too old and tough (like me!) to be of interest to the deer.

Looking forward to your next installment. Hope you have some good gardening books to peruse in bed with the flu.

susan (garden chick) said...

How can those cute baby deer look so angelic and be so devilish. Good post with some new information for me, I look forward to more in the series.

Donna at Suburban Sanctum said...

Ha! What a fun article. I always say that humor is the best way to handle frustrating situations--like deer munching your plants. Thanks for a good chuckle--and good info. So what time is dinner? You bring the salad, I'll bring dessert...

lostlandscape said...

It's sad that the street next to mine is called Deerpark, even through there probably hasn't been a sighting since the 70s. While it's not not having to worry about supply expensive deer chow, I think I'd prefer the deer...