Tag Archives: deer

The Good, the Green, and the In Between

Now that fall officially has arrived we have seen some summer-like weather returning briefly.  No complaints!  Summer was just shortening up a bit too early in mid-September, so it seemed. But, nothing can be consistent; sprinkles invaded today, as I write.  Much of the house yard looks more relaxed for the moisture we’ve had; the cherry profusion zinnias are looking boldly pink again.  The sages ‘Pineapple’ and ‘Black & Blue’ are moving into full bloom, much to the delight of the hummingbirds.


Transitions- Sept 22 Equinox


Some actual ripe tomatoes have made their appearance, finally, having been discovered hiding under lush vegetation (now further cut back).  Fourteen pounds of ripe tomatoes, and 20 pounds of thinned back greenies and blushers in the last week is a definite improvement!


Beginning the tomato bounty-finally!



Classic fall! Ripening tomatoes and mildewy squash leaves


A nice picking of 5 large clusters of ‘Lakemont’ green seedless grapes from my second-year-ling has been a delightful surprise, and very tasty.  A good cultivar given the shiftier weather and less warmth needed to raise sugar content.  Looking forward to more next year!


A small but beautiful harvest of Lakemont seedless grapes off my first-year plant


Our ‘friend Bambi’ just returned a little over a week ago, though now I think he’s deterred.  Came with the change to cooler weather.  A few nibbles on the bush beans was the only damage in the CG (thank you!), sparing the lettuce seedlings in the next row.  After browsing all the leaves off my youngest columnar apple seedling, and half of the apricot, he continued more voracious sampling on a neighbor’s young apples, pears, and cherries.  Some netting and tree-bark rub downs with Irish Spring soap seems to be doing a good repelling job.


The ripening corner



Happy 1st birthday CG!

Why is it that the best weather of a 3-day weekend arrives after 4:30 pm on the final day?  Nevertheless it was an excellent weekend to move ahead with garden tasks, dodging drizzles and rain.  Although we don’t have the exceptionally fine weather that blessed our initial project one year ago, we celebrated by seeding the first phase of summer veggies.  As various CG members filtered into town from their various journeys, different tasks were done, depending on who showed up and when.

With the air and soil temperatures being nearly equal at 70°F we seeded various squash, melon, and cucumber cultivars, corn, and basil.  (Check out our 2010 planting list here.) One minute it was threatening rain, the next a few light rays of sun peaking through the clouds to make one want to don shorts; but wait 5 minutes, and the sun is gone.  Do I need another shirt again? Yes.  Wait, now I’m too warm.  It came down to rolling up the jeans and a t-shirt.

Taking a stroll through the house yard to check on tomato seedlings keeping warm in their little greenhouse, my mouth dropped as I spied a group of deer pellets on some grass.  Never in my residency here has one come this far into the yard!  We decided to grab netting and place it over the cool weather crops immediately.  He hadn’t managed to sample anything yet.  (I think it’s the same young male who visited solo last year.)  While tying out cloth strips soaked in Irish Spring soap solution on various young fruit trees and roses, I did notice some rose tips “nipped in the bud”.

Here is an update to the final harvest tally of our 2009 plantings, contributed to by our overwintering kale and leeks, which were removed in May for more garden prep:

  • Kale: 10 (pounds)
  • Leeks: 3.25

Bringing our 2009 grand total to……592 pounds!

As we celebrate our first birthday we have a new 2010 tally, from harvesting the thinnings of early spring plantings during April and May:

  • Beet greens: 1.5 pounds
  • Kale: 2.5
  • Lettuce blends: 7.5
  • Spinach: 2

Total: 12.75 pounds            Off to a great start!

A comedy of errors

What would gardening be without some mishaps, failures, or faux pas to keep us humble? The mysteries of  “why did this happen”?  So, I am offering a sort of “comedy of errors” to keep us amused while the main part of the garden hangs in a sort of suspended equilibrium.

You’re looking at a 2-pound harvest of new ‘Cranberry red’ potatoes there in the next picture.  An exceptionally good amount considering nearly 1 pound of eyes were planted!  And the Yukon Golds  and Banana Fingerlings each yielded the same amount.  This is almost worthy of a booby prize!

'Cranberry Red' potatoes being dug up from growing bags

'Cranberry Red' potatoes being dug up from growing bags

I definitely don’t have potato production down (taking place in my house yard in deep, black, breathable “growing bags”).  I had a better crop last year, when I didn’t know much of anything except to keep adding layers of soil.  After reading up on some of their preferences, it’s possible that really hot weather hit at an early stage in their growth, which they don’t like, and I may not have kept them as moist as they like, given their well-drained soil mix.  If I were a grower I would be calling this a loss.  The potatoes are disease free and good looking, just tiny; the vines seem to have thrived early on, but after the really hot weather in July they started floundering.  My suspicion is they were nutrient-starved as I probably forgot to put in some fertilizer in first.

Upper left: Fingerlings (well maybe finger-nail-ings); upper right: Yukon Gold; lower: Cranberry Red

Upper left: Fingerlings (well maybe fingernail-lings); upper right: Yukon Gold; lower: Cranberry Red

Then, there are the “little peppers who could” or my “comedy team”.  Three little bushes pushing out orange peppers as if their lives depended on it (which is what a stressed plant will do).  Two of their neighbors grew out of their stupor and are each pushing out 2 or 3 full-sized peppers.  Hey, at least the nearby basil took off.  Actually, the stunted pepper syndrome has something to do with light availability, too, as they were shaded much of the day by tomatoes, come mid-July.

The comedy team peppers barely hanging in there 10 weeks after planting!

The comedy team peppers barely hanging in there 10 weeks after planting!

The comedy team peppers 17 weeks after transplant-Sept. 2009

The comedy team peppers 17 weeks after planting-still hanging in there, now orange!

The weather continues to yo-yo by 10-degree increments for the daily high temperatures. The lettuce, basil, tomatoes, and chard are growing well, while cucumbers are putting out their last fruits, and the summer squash pushing out their last little groups of flowers where the newest growth is free of mildew.  The now-giant kale is robust and still sweet, but is succumbing to aphid egg infestation, and difficult to clean.  I think our resident ladybugs scattered away some as the old corn stalks were removed.  A short row of purple bush beans survived the deer-browsing from 2-weeks ago and are delivering the goods, although their green bean companions got hit again last weekend, and aren’t long for the world after being half pulled out while still small.  For anyone unfamiliar with deer browsing on beans, they don’t want the beans, they want the leaves, which is great if the plants are fully matured and no longer producing.  (Time for a bigger piece of netting, now that our deer is getting more daring.)   Next it’s time to start sampling the spaghetti squash!  We humans, that is, not the deer.


This week we had a couple of double-takes as the garden yielded fused corn and fused squash…

Double-takes on sweet corn

Double-takes on sweet corn

Double-takes on yellow straightneck squash

Double-takes on yellow straightneck squash

Our “browser” deer, who I believe to be a yearling-buck, may be trying to educate himself about mature versus green tomatoes.  Either that, or he got spooked and dropped the green Roma tomato.  Better to nibble off all the tips of the young bean plants!  And, thanks to the lavender plant stashed against the row of chard, he only nibbled 2 or 3 leaves.  The Irish Spring odor must have worn off the ropes over the last couple of days.

A deer-rejected Roma tomato!

A deer-rejected Roma tomato!

The new (third?) wave of yellow squash is coming on as a heat wave hits us again this week, after an unseasonably cool two weeks. The dreaded “powdery mildew” just began to make an appearance on the bushcrop squash, so now we’re officially on the downside of summer, and we hope the night temperatures will rise back to the 50’s during this last summer hurrah, since the large tomatoes are so slow to ripen.

Squash sextuplets and this is only one group!

Squash sextuplets and this is only one group!

We’re also pleased that our new sign arrived during the week, along with small business cards, so curious passersby can learn a little more if they’d like.

New signage for project information

New signage for project information

Since I’m receiving more questions about caring for particular plants, I’ll be adding a separate page of general comments, though by no means exhaustive.  Thanks for the questions and comments that have been sent!

Dear deer…*@#!

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.