Deer & The Gardener
When we began the Lord’s Acre, neighbors warned us of the healthy deer population in the area so we installed a type of double, off-set electric fence that is being used in NC grain production. It has been effective and was relatively inexpensive to install. The fence, coupled with my Airedale’s border patrol, has served us well. Even though we’ve seen many a deer grazing nearby in the evenings, we’ve never suffered crop damage. Last year, my beloved canine companion passed away so I’m looking into other deterrents for the deer who also call our field home. Perhaps deer have also kept you from growing some of your favorite crops.
Thankfully, I quickly found local author, Peter Loewer’s book, Solving Deer Problems. Peter does nothing half way so I have been perusing his book for easy solutions to add to our repertoire. He begins by giving us an understanding of deer and deer habits then moves into solutions grouped into four themes: fencing, home remedies, products, and plants deer won’t eat. (He even dabbles in rabbits, voles, moles and woodchucks in the final chapter.)
Combining electricity, baiting, and optical illusion, many fence designs have been created to deter and confuse deer. The Lord’s Acre combines all three and even though our fence is not even chest-high, it works. Fencing is best used where the plot is relatively small and the garden will be there for some time to gain a return on your investment. Peter also shares fencing sources, to which we’d add, Premier Fencing.
Soap, meat-eater’s urine and scare devices are the most promising deer deterrents under Home Remedies but you can also get ideas from the Products chapter when you read the list of ingredients: hot pepper, carnivore urine, putrefied egg, and garlic. While you save money making your own, most commercial concoctions have been formulated to last longer and stand up to the effects of weather.
While deer won’t eat rhubarb, potatoes, turnips and a few other vegetables, the plants they detest tend to be herbs, flowers or ornamentals. Peter provides an extensive list of plants deer find repugnant and if deer are your downfall, you might want to consider interplanting these deterrents in and among your food crops. The book doesn’t mention hunting, probably because it focuses on neighborhoods where that would be illegal and because there are always more deer. They just keep coming. If you have a tried and true deer repellent you swear by, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org