March 22, 2017

How to Outsmart Deer in Your Garden

by Toni Leland    

As I watch my lilies and other tender plants emerge from the frosty ground, I realize it's time to prepare myself for the onslaught of deer who will eat these shoots to the ground. The following post is perennial, and warrants re-posting as we head into spring.
White-tailed deer fawn with spots (Odocoileus virginianus)
This lovely deer fawn is "hiding" behind a post.

By late May to early June, the deer in our woods will be fawning and, right now, there is nothing hungrier than a pregnant doe! 

Gardeners love to share their efforts with friends and neighbors, but none of us likes to share the garden with the deer. Beautiful as they are, their voracious appetites can decimate a flower bed in one early morning browse. What took hours to plant and tend, and months to grow, can disappear in the blink of an eye. 


And according to Colorado State University Extension and other experts, there are simply NO plants that are deer proof. Those of you who live in rural locations already know how much damage these creatures can inflict on home gardens and crops. 


White-tailed deer doe (Odocoileus virginianus)
Deer are no longer wary of residential areas.
Many commercial deer repellents are available, but one that really works – and this is from my own personal experience living in very rural areas of Ohio and Connecticut – is a recipe from the Colorado State University Extension. Simple and effective, this egg-based formula repels the vegetarian deer by the odor of animal protein. The formula does not have to be rotten, it does not need soap or anything to make it stick to the leaves. AND it lasts for many weeks, even through heavy rain.

     The average White Tailed Deer eats approximately 7 pounds of vegetation per day; a pregnant or lactating doe will consume 
up to 10 pounds. That's a lot of hostas!


     
Hosta emerging in spring
Hosta Shoots are vulnerable

     Hostas and lilies are a favorite plant in the residential landscape and, as our population grows, the deer move closer and closer to our private space.  And our beautiful gardens.

     When these wonderful plants begin to emerge, poking their bright green spikes of unfurled leaves through the mulch, that is the time to start your war with the deer. The newer and more tender the leaves, the better they like them. With lilies of all types, the unopened buds are irresistible to deer.

Deer damage to daylilies
(L)New, untreated daylily shoots on an April afternoon. (R) Deer damaged lilies the next morning.

DEER REPELLANT RECIPE

Make a solution of 20% whole egg yolk  and 80% water.
If using fresh eggs, you will need to remove the white membrane (chalaza) that covers the yolk, because it will clog your sprayer. Removing this chalaza is not an easy job, so I experimented with processed liquid egg product. It works just as well; either product with egg white only or a mixture with yolks will do – it's the animal protein odor you are after.

Recipe for deer repellent
Deer repellant used 8 oz egg product to 32 oz water.

Mix up a batch of this concoction in a gallon milk jug and keep it in a cool place. On a dry day, apply the mixture using a good sprayer with a coarse opening, or a sprinkling can with large holes. Liberally apply the mixture to all your emerging plants, new leaves on ornamental trees and shrubs, and basically anything that you don't want eaten. Once dry, the product won't wash off for a long time. Make a note on your calendar when you made the application, so that if you see evidence of browsing damage in a month or so, you'll know to apply it again.

I've found that this solution also deters rabbits from munching on things. Applied to edibles like lettuce and leafy greens, the egg-product is perfectly safe to eat.


Wild rabbit

For more detailed information on deer and their habits, visit CSU's Extension link.

Good Luck!

White-tailed deer  (Odocoileus virginianus)

















     

March 14, 2017

Garden to table at home

by Toni Leland

RECIPES FROM A KITCHEN GARDEN is another wonderful cookbook from Renee's Gardens. This is the original cookbook by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff, and it's every bit as good as their latest publication, More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden, which I reviewed last year.

"Fresh vegetables have their very own special allure, and these recipes are first and foremost a celebration of garden fresh ingredients," say the authors. And nothing could be more true of this book.

From Beans to Chard to Eggplant to Tomatillos, and everything in between, the recipes are fresh and interesting and, for the most, very simple. Just listen to these delicious-sounding names: Lemon Thyme Bread. Indonesian Zucchini Salad. Vermouth Braised Fennel. Over 145 pages are packed with tested recipes, all beautifully illustrated with line drawings, and packaged in a manageable sized 6x9 book.

For the home gardener or the avid cook, this book is a keeper!