By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Being brought up in the country I have a different viewpoint on deer damaging my garden especially my tomatoes.
My parents and I relished the times that the deer roamed freely across the yard.
And while we did loose vegetables and fruits to those beautiful deer it was a minor price to pay.
Some of my Dad’s neighbors shot the deer because they were eating into their farm profits and the law said they could do it without any repercussions but for my family the cost of loosing 1 deer over a few tomatoes was not worth it.
But as we as a society move farther into the country the encounters with deer increases. Some again will shoot the deer only to end up with a dead deer and missing produce. Some will try dogs, bullhorns and other forms of deterrent but again the deer come. I do not think that this is just a rural problem. It isn’t it is a problem anywhere there is open space. Just like humans deer like room. But as a gardener there does exist some easy ways to deter deer away from your garden without causing harm. But the key to this is to change the form of deterrent often.
This trick is easy to do, inexpensive, and guaranteed to work. Simply wrap fishing line around garden plants or around stakes such as those used for tomatoes. But note remember where you placed the fishing line. Nothing ruins the day by clothes lining yourself with the fishing line.
How it works is simple. As the deer approach the plant material their neck or face touch the fishing line. This contact scares the deer and they will not return.
Old CDs and Pie Pans
Old pie pans banging in the breeze have been an old garden staple. The rhythmic sound brings me back home every time I hear it. While the sound is comforting to me it startles deer. But the drawback to this strategy is the deer get used to the sound and really ignore it especially if strategy has been used year after year.
To do this strategy simply attach disposable pie pans to stakes or string with fishing line and let the breeze do the rest.
Using old CDs is a great way to use those scratched CDs lying around. To use this strategy simply string CDs with fishing line onto stake or place on the ground. The banging of the CDs works like the pie pans and the reflective nature of the CDs scares the deer. But again if used all the time the deer will get used to the new phenomenon and will stay in the garden.
Scarecrows have been used to protect villages and gardens for hundreds of years. Some looked like stick people while others were stuffed with straw and resembled the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. But in recent times Scarecrows have become decorative and functional. Every time a scarecrow is seen fall and pumpkins are thought of instead of garden protection. Also no longer are farmers stuck with making a wooden frame to support their Scarecrows but instead have a choice of a prefabricated frame to dress.
Making a Scarecrow is uncomplicated and fun. The task is simply choosing the type of frame and clothing that will fit that frame. A wooden frame will create more of a 1-dimensional Scarecrow if not stuffed with straw. A prefabricated frame creates a stiffer looking Scarecrow but could also use a little stuffing for dimension. Both styles of Scarecrows need to look like humans and have some type of movement such as a sleeve moving or fabric blowing in the breeze.
White Paper Strips
White in the deer’s world is translated into a warning. Utilizing this principle the gardener can tape white paper strips throughout the garden. As the wind blows the white strips will move mimicking the underside of a deer’s tail, which is pulled up as a warning. But if it rains this technique will need to be redone.
Deer can make havoc throughout the garden and this year their delight seems to be tomatoes. But there does exist some simple ways of dealing with deer without killing them. And even if you are an urban gardener you may be facing this problem more often as more subdivisions are being built and more open space is becoming available which creates prime deer habit.
But for my dad and I we have another reason not to kill the deer. My mother died a year ago but before her death she had become homebound. The deer my mother saw in the backyard was her connection to the outside world and the wildlife she loved. Today my dad and I see the deer and think of my mother. We have watched individual deer families grow up. Some come and go while others seem to find sanctuary among the peach and apple trees that line the yard.
Today my dad does not have his big garden for the deer to roam but instead a simple planter full of tomato plants positioned so that it can be seen from the kitchen window. Every morning as my dad drinks his tea he is greeted with the sight he and my mother shared for 40 years that is simply deer grazing. While I realize that some may value vegetables and fruits more than deer my experience is that these encounters stick in the human psyche more than last years canned tomatoes.
This year I have wondered if that is truer than ever because out of the whole acreage my dad owns he choose the perfect spot that could be seen from the kitchen window. I think maybe the container garden was not so much about the tomatoes but to bring the deer to the window so my mother could enjoy watching the deer one last time.