I really had hoped and thought this event would be postponed until next year, but alas, it would be our garden that induced the deer to venture further into the neighborhood than they ever have before. I’d heard they occasionally cruised by some open yards 3 blocks away, on the lookout for delectable gladiola flower buds, and knew it would only be a matter of time, since their pristine wooded areas ½-mile away are being developed for new residences. We hoped we wouldn’t have them on our street so soon; I already had plans to work some strategy in next year’s plantings. It’s not like we are in an absolutely rural area, but we aren’t really urban either, in the classic sense. Forests and hiking areas surround Corvallis, even if we’re on the flat. Yes, we even have cougar in the hills.
So, they took out half of the chard, and nibbled on the bush bean tips; didn’t touch much of the kale, since it’s quite a bit tougher, nor did they seem to bother anything else……yet. And, they must be so hungry, they got the nerve up to poke their noses just inside the walkway to the main house yard and nibble off the centers of the lettuce heads. But, I’ve heard enough of their eating behaviors from my office mate at work to know what has to be addressed immediately. If you actually have mature beans on a plant, the deer help out by eating everything but the beans, but since our plants are still growing and barely flowering, this is not good news.
Since I have a lot of lavender growing in other parts of the garden, we’ve decided to soak rags in a blended lavender bud and mint leaf solution. Upon arriving home from work I found one neighbor had been very busy during the day, setting up 5-ft. bamboo sticks around the perimeter, stringing monofilament line between them, and hanging strips of rags soaked in the solution. I had picked up a couple of bars of true Irish Spring from the “dollar store” and swooshed a bar around a bit in the solution to enhance it further. While she strung more line and rags around the perimeter, I set up lines directly between the rows of chard and beans, stringing rags at plant “nibbling” height. I quickly realized it might be just as effective to rub soap along the sissal twine, covering the row length. Then rub all the perimeter lines, and then….most of the perimeter bamboo sticks! By the time I had done this for an hour, I was coughing from the soap odors (I think), so it ought to deter the deer. (I was tempted to get up early this morning to see if I heard any coughing deer.) Some people put down shavings of soap around their gardens, but this was a faster process for the set-up. Also put a few soaked rags in amongst the blueberry bushes with their ripening fruit. (Another friend has successfully kept deer from nibbling on the succulent shoots of his espaliered apples by hanging strips of greasy rags he has left from maintaining his bicycles and various house projects.)
Finally, we decided to leave the remaining solution in the dishpan right out in the middle of the yard for the night. We’ll see what happens…Stay tuned.