Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goldilocks Weather

We have a small time window in Arkansas when the weather allows us to not use heat or air conditioning. It's perfect weather, neither hot or cold, just right... Goldilocks Weather! Our Spring is cool with nights even down into the 30's so planting anything is "iffish" until the last of April. But we do, every year, and every year things get frostbit unless we cover up our gardens like children in the bed. Some people use old quilts or sheets, plastic milk jugs for tomato plants or ready made poly fleece bags out of recycled materials that will protect your plants. Gardeners all over the Ozarks are biding their time, watching the weather and waiting for that perfect time to put out tender seedlings.

The deer on Granny Mountain can't wait to see what kind of "fool-proof" deer deterrent we've bought for this year. Some of the ones we've tried...with little success.

Scented soap: Shave a few bars of strongly-scented soap (such Irish Spring or Cashmere Bouquet) and scatter the shavings around the garden. I think the deer wonder why we aren't putting a shower in for them since we are supplying the soap...

Human hair: Available from barber shops, human hair can be sprinkled around or hung from branches in cheesecloth bags or nylon stockings. Ben, the King (our furry Cocker Spaniel) provides plenty of this...

Predator urine: You can order predator urine sprays (such as fox or coyote), and some gardeners send meat-eating humans outdoors to “mark the territory,” too. Suffice it to say that we've even resorted to this...

Eggs: Mix a beaten egg into a quart of water and spray plants and surrounding areas.Tried this last summer, the deer weren't bothered by the putrid smell of rotten eggs but it ruined my time downwind on the patio!

Baby powder: Sprinkle on or around plants. Haven't tried this one. Will let you know if it works...

Scented fabric softener sheets: Cut into strips and tie to branches or fence posts. We did this for flies and it did help, just didn't work on the deer.

Blood meal: Sprinkle around plants or beds. I use this on my tulips and they ate them down to the ground...I'd say this one definitely doesn't work.

Hot pepper powder or sauce: Spray or sprinkle directly on or around plants. Some gardeners add garlic or curry powder, too. We made this mixture to keep the baby squirrels from chewing on our new decks the first summer. All it did was give them a hankering for Thai food!

Commercial repellent sprays or granules: Available at garden centers, commercial repellents often contain a combination of unpleasant smells and flavors. These work if you have unlimited funds, there's the catch...

Bamboo fountains: Originally designed as “deer chasers” for Japanese gardens, bamboo fountains make a knocking sound when the water dumps out, which serves as a great auditory deterrent. I like this idea, we'll give this a try this summer!

Metal cans or pie pans: Hang in groups where they will reflect light and rattle in a breeze. Great idea, I bet our neighbors will all be jealous and rush out to buy several Mrs. Smith's pies so that they can be copycats!


Dogs: Dogs are great garden protectors if you can keep them safely contained (and if they don’t add to the problem by digging up your garden! After 5 summers, Ben just lays on the driveway...too many deer to chase off.

Trail blocks: Once you’ve located common deer trails, even a wheelbarrow blocking the path can deter them for a day or two. Deer are habitual animals, and they’ll steer clear of an obstacle until they’re sure it’s safe. We built a fence last year to block their favorite path, they love how it made their habitat more "homey" and have eaten all but one of the 5 rose bushes we planted.

Plant netting: Green bird or plant netting can be used to protect shrubs and trees and can be used as row covers for veggie gardens. Drape it directly over the plants or on a simple wood or PVC frame. If you have acreage like us, it's just not practical to drape everything. If I started now I might be finished by the time the first flake of snow fell this winter!

If you have an idea that works...
please share it with all of us who battle the deer!

10 comments:

  1. We're not bothered by deer. Just neighborhood cats who think our flower beds and vegetable garden are giant litter boxes. We've sprinkled cayenne pepper but they just find another soft patch of ground in our yard.
    Goldilocks weather is a great term.

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  2. WOW...what a lot of good ideas here..I love the pic of goldi and the bears, I might have to use that, I am feeling very much like her! :D

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  3. I love the Goldilocks weather...my favorite kind..I am waiting to plant to,It is hard to be patient though when the weather is so warm,but we did have frost the other night,so I am glad I held off..I wonder if those ideas you use for the deer will work on the elk???? I put moth balls out to keep them away from my creeping philox but he ate around the moth balls...take care ...

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  4. We drove to Fayetteville a couple of weeks ago, and everything was just gorgeous. Drove Highway 71 as far as Mountainburg on the return trip, just for old time's sake.

    I have a terrible deer problem. I have a friend who put up motion sensor flood lights. One night she watched out the window as several deer started across her yard, got just to the spot where the motion lights would come on, hunkered down and kept on going.

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  5. I've never heard that term - Goldilocks weather. I love that! It's a good name for this perfect weather. Fortunately, we don't have to deal with deer in my part of Arkansas. I know it's hard to keep them out of your garden. Good luck. laurie

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  6. That's funny....my cousin in Missouri is telling me the heat is on in the AM, and the air in the PM! I don't know what to tell you about the deer...I've never really had to battle them...I can't imagine how frustrating it must be! I might even give up like the dog!

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  7. Joycee, We planted high bush blueberries the first year around our house, the deer were gleefully eating the harvest. We left them in and planted Arborvitae, the deer ate them so we planted Spirea, and they haven't come near them. I guess you have to plant deer resistant plants only or be prepared to share the crop. I know it is quite frustrating. I even bought grain for them and fed them all winter long but they still ate everything in the garden that appealed to them.

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  8. Oh then, is Ben working from 9-5? haha....

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  9. Goldilocks weather...I like that! About your deer problem...I can't help you there as this is our first spring on the farm and our first garden here. The farmers around us tell us that there are LOTS of deer but I think our Akbash (very large livestock guarding dog) would probably keep them away. I certainly wouldn't want to meet him in the dark! I'll report on how we made out this fall. I think rabbits will be our biggest threat to the garden. Thanks for the great ideas ...I may just have to use some of them! Have a great day. Maura

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  10. Years ago my husband made arrangements to collect some lion dung from a traveling circus to put around the edges of the garden - a one acre plot. The circus was in a neighboring city, so he convinced a friend to fly in and pick up our dung. Unfortunately, the lions were constipated that day. Our friend, in an effort to help, made the decision to bring us back elephant dung instead. We spread it around the corners of the garden and the deer loved it. They apparently thought there was a party going on and came in record numbers. DO NOT USE ELEPHANT WASTE!

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