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Old 07-21-2011, 04:53 PM   #1
Agilityscots
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Default Gaah! Deer!

I've been gardening for about 5 years now and have never encountered deer, until this year. They are destroying my heirloom tomato plants. Last week they ate a bunch of green fruits--the closest to ripening--but last night they mowed down one of my Lemon Drops and a Cherokee Purple, leaves, stalks and fruits. Short of sitting outside all night with a shotgun for the rest of the season, is there any way I can protect my plants from these marauders? Please don't recommend 7 or 10-foot fencing, because it's not happening...I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant and that's not on the list of things to do in the next 5 weeks.

Amy
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:13 PM   #2
paulf
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Without being able to suggest fencing and it doesn't sound like shooting is an option either, I am sorry your garden will be decimated. I do fence the vegetable garden and now the devils are attacking my wife's flowers. I have been ordered to get out the gun and stand vigil. In a couple of weeks, hire a nanny and clean the gun.
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:47 AM   #3
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A corral of stakes strung with fishline ~9"-12" apart will generally keep them off petty well. Especially if you keep a cougar inside it.
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:38 PM   #4
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Look into electric fence.

Completely effective against all critters, except birds. Not that difficult to install. Will not harm pets or people.

It's not that expensive.

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Old 07-26-2011, 01:17 PM   #5
Nancy in Colorado
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Default Gaah! Deer!

Boy, I feel your pain. Here in the Colorado mountains we consider deer as pests, locusts with hooves, destroying angels. Over the years I've tried a variety of ways to deter them, but quite frankly the only reasonable way is a fence. If they can see through it, you need at least 8 feet, but if it's opaque, like a solid wood fence, it can be shorter. Deer won't jump over something if they can't see the other side. Or at least that's what they say.

An outdoor dog helps, but not if it's sleeping all the time. Deer are most active at night, so a young, alert dog that wakes up when necessary is best.

I've tried various deterrents, like Irish Spring soap, really cheap, stinky perfume, bags of hair collected from beauty shops, but nothing works for long. Some of the commercial products can be helpful, but if you get a lot of rain or snow they need to be reapplied, plus I'm pretty sure you can't use them on food crops. I use Spray-n-Grow, which I spray on a few times a season, and deer don't seem to care for the smell. Fish emulsion works also, but again, deer get used to these smells in a relatively short time. The best advice to to use a variety of things and rotate between them as needed.

Good luck, and let us know if anything works for you. Gee--I never thought deer would care for tomato plants.

N.
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:12 PM   #6
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I have lots of deer around my house. I use this stuff. I use it primarily as fencing, but I've also draped it over things to protect them. The mesh is fine enough so that they can't eat through it, and they don't have opposable thumbs so they can't move it out of the way. Only thing is that you have to fiddle with it every week or so because stuff tends to grow through it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:58 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone...I made up a batch of nasty homemade spray (milk, eggs, water and Bronner's liquid soap) and have been spraying my tomato plants. So far, the deer seem to be staying away. I can't tell if it's happenstance, though, because they weren't coming every night. I just had no idea I'd deal with deer, of all things, in central Ohio!

As I said, fencing isn't an option this late in my pregnancy, even electric fencing (even though my husband is an electrical engineer who owns an electrical wholesale distribution business, I don't think I can heap one more project on the poor man before our baby's born!). Paul, I like your suggestion of nanny + gun. Steev, will also look into pet cougar rental.

Thanks for the other alternatives. Wolfster, I've used bird netting (I use it early in the season to keep the squirrels from destroying the seedlings with their neverending digging), and I did use it a couple nights last week before removing it to restake tomatoes. I'll put it back up again. Can't hurt, right? Thanks for the reminder!

Amy
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Old 07-29-2011, 10:55 AM   #8
Nancy in Colorado
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Default Gaah! Deer!

Under the category of "I Didn't Know Deer Ate That," I discovered this morning that sometime overnight the deer ate all the leaves of my rhubarb. I think the drought here has made them hungrier than usual, so that they'll try eating something they never would have considered in better times.

I guess we should feel sorry for them, and I would, if it weren't for the fact that the does routinely have twins and sometimes triplets. I see there's a note in the paper about a public meeting next week to talk about deer predation. This herd, known as the Golf Course Herd, was transplanted from someplace else that had a problem with them, and I guess it's our turn to hand them off to some other unsuspecting community.

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Old 08-21-2011, 09:10 PM   #9
Nancy in Colorado
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Default Gaah! Deer!

Just learned a good tip but haven't had a chance to try it out.

We all have a stash of old VHS tapes that we no longer watch because we now have DVD players. Unroll some of that shiny brown tape and use it to fence your garden. Make sure that the tape is tightly stretched, and use at least 2 horizontal rows, but if you have chickens add a third, lower row.

The tape buzzes faintly in the lightest breeze and it shines day and night. Apparently deer think it's very spooky. The person who recommended this has been using it for 10 years, and that's enough recommendation for me.

This sounds very promising. I just wish I'd heard about it sooner, because the deer have been having their way with my bush beans and lettuce. In fact last week I scared away a doe who ran off with a mouthful of (ironically), Deer Tongue.

Hope this helps someone. I plan to try it soon.

N.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:01 PM   #10
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The temptation to pity the poor hungry deer must be tempered by seeing the frequency with which they have multiple births, somewhat a genetic trait. Then there is the question of how many of the siblings survive, a matter of predator pressure and most importantly, availability of food. If you have a population of twinning deer whose fawns are surviving, they aren't going hungry, quite the opposite: they're breeding up to the available food supply and haven't hit the limit yet. Some venison would help stretch your depleted beans.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:07 PM   #11
Nancy in Colorado
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Too bad I prefer elk.

But I agree with you about how healthy and (re)productive a herd can be. The does routinely have twins, and I have heard that a few are now having triplets, if you can believe that. There is much talk about doing "something" about the oversupply of deer, but no conclusions have been forthcoming. The suggestions have included a limited hunting season (unfortunately much of the herd's range is in the city limits), and a couple of people muttered things like "What we need is a couple of hungry mountain lions." The deer have become unnaturally accustomed to people and they're not real worried if you run out into your yard waving your arms and screaming.

N.
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Old 08-26-2011, 05:44 PM   #12
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It's not too bad you prefer elk; I agree they are far tastier, so you should prefer them. I regret that the elk that severely pruned some of my fruit trees last Winter are protected by the state, so I can't bite them back.

As to urban deer, I remember some years back, some cities issued bow-hunting permits as a pest-control measure. I think neighborhood associations should work up agreements to do this sort of thing. Something along the lines of: everybody on the block agrees not to drop a dime on whoever skewers a deer in the backyard, and we all get some venison, a baggie of jerky, whatever.
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Old 10-23-2011, 12:24 PM   #13
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This is one trick I have not tried yet but I will next year. A local Game Warden said to put up an electric fence using the using the nylon & wire type of wire. Coat the wire with peanut butter. He said it is quite comical to watch the deer lick the wire when they smell the peanut butter. He said after that they will not go near the fence. I plan to use an electric fencer in the daytime and 120 volts at night.

Also a sudden case of "lead poisoning" inderectly caused by too much consumption of beans, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, etc. is a more effeective deterrent (if you don't get caught).

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Old 10-30-2011, 05:19 PM   #14
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Here are some natural deer-repellant recipes, mostly containing eggs as main ingredient
http://www.deer-departed.com/deer-re...t-recipes.html

The VHS tape idea sounds like it would work great!! I want to try that one for sure.

slightly off-topic:
Since mice dislike peppermint oil, and I didn't want to waste a lot of good essential oil to protect my sweet potatoes - I came up with the idea of sprinkling a few drops peppermint oil on a golf-ball sized piece of landscaping lava rock - just enough to seep down into the pores of the rock. Turned out to be an excellent diffuser!

Then I cut off the bottom of a used clear water bottle to hold the rock in place. One cup at the base of each plant was sufficient, would be barely noticeable next to any plant. When it rained, all I had to do was pour the water out. I was surprised how well the rock still kept the peppermint oil inside its pores even after several rains

Maybe garlic oil sprinkled on a lava rock would last a long time to keep deer and rabbits away. I'm at least going to try it...
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:38 PM   #15
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I have been very successful keeping the bucks from rubbing their racks on my apple trees by hanging simple bailing twine from the branches. Apparently they think they will get tangled in the twine and stay away from them. This was a very big problem for me and now I'm in my third scrape free year. I hope this works on your trees.
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