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Guerilla gardening in deer country

 
pollinator
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I live in an area with a lot of deer, so the solution for our home garden was a fence, but there's a lot of neglected areas around that could do with a little guerilla gardening. I've seen some useful/edible plants that the deer will leave alone, like lavender and rosemary. I've also heard they don't eat onions -- seems like they're not fans of aromatic plants in general? Has anyone else tried guerilla gardening in a deer-heavy area? Any ideas for plants or general tips?
 
pollinator
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Outside of zone 1, I grow collards, mustard greens, garlic, and blackberries which the deer leave alone.

Two other factors:
Grow enough for the deer and you. Autumn olive, plum. Pear, etc
Guardian animals. In my neighborhood, the dogs are off leash. When a deer or bear come near, its noisy with all the dogs ganging up on the intruders. But it works.
 
master pollinator
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J Davis wrote: In my neighborhood, the dogs are off leash.



In my neighborhood, that might cost you $500.  Loose dogs are dangerous to livestock.

 
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I would suggest a thicket of trees. Densely planted. The winners will arise. A single tree will surely get girdled, and die, from the bucks scraping their antlers on the trunks.

Inter mixed with herbs. Many herbs are not palatable to deer.

There are trees that deer dont like. Figs being one. My established fig tree, probably 5ft tall and bushy, is not getting eaten. My newly planted small one is. Which leads to the truth that deer resistant is not deer proof.

Tree selection can have some merit. Peaches on dwarf root stock may never get high enough to be above a deers reach. In the future i plant to avoid that. If i get full size trees , the deer get the bottom, i get the middle, birds can have the upper level. Its a compromise i can live with.
 
gardener
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I live under heavy deer pressure and "deer resistant" doesn't include anything young and succulent if they're hungry and there aren't many alternatives around. This is one reason that Carolinian forests on the Eastern North American continent are at great risk - they can't reproduce themselves due to the deer.

If you have access to cheap/second hand fencing, I have built a circle around the seedling so that it's protected until it's at least 3 ft tall. Since the fence needs to be 3 ft in diameter, you're looking at about 10 ft of fencing per seedling. What I'm wondering is if I put 6 rebar stakes in the ground, could I "weave" Ivy stems (of which I have an endless amount) around the  stakes like a very loose basket. Has anyone tried something like that? If you have lots of straight sticks, that would be better, but at least the rebar I can take back and reuse when the seedling's ready to be independent.

I've certainly used both walking onion and garlic to protect areas. It can help, but deer aren't stupid, so if they want what's inside the ring of garlic badly enough, they'll go and get it.

If there are rotten stumps that were cut high, I've planted things in the top of them like a nurse log. One just has to hope that as the log decomposes, the roots make it all the way down to the dirt. If I was to do this on any scale, I'd plant a *lot* of seeds/seedlings in the hope that a few make it. Seeds are cheap, and the roots will help the decomposition process and feed the soil even if the tree doesn't make it in the end.
 
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

J Davis wrote: In my neighborhood, the dogs are off leash.



In my neighborhood, that might cost you $500.  Loose dogs are dangerous to livestock.



In my neighbourhood, it won't cost you a thing, but you best not count on getting your dogs back...
 
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I have no garlic chives that were supposed to be deer resistant.  They have left the rosemary alone and the purple coneflowers that they ate last year.  So far I still have my walking onions. They have eaten all the leaves off the tomato plants that were planted with the onions.

All the leaves off the squash and bell peppers. They ate all the corn. That was to be expected.

They liked the rose bushes until I put sprigs of rosemary onto the bushes.

 
Jay Angler
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I lay bundles of male poodle fur on my tomato branches in the hope the deer would sniff the fur and leave, or at least not like the taste! Yuck, I hate getting hair in my mouth, but who knows about a deer? I have a volunteer cantaloupe melon that got deer mowed so many times, that I couldn't believe it was making fruit. I've tried to make a barrier out of some large tomato cages, and when that wasn't enough, I clothes-pinned dog fur onto the lower rungs of the cages. That does seem to have helped.

Why couldn't the deer just eat all the Himalayan Blackberry that I can't deal with???
 
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The deer in my area are relentless. It is very popular at our local garden centre to sell "deer resistant plants. However; I've seen them eat garlic, potatoes (just the toxic leaves), rhubarb, an entire blueberry bush right back to stubs, and garden mulch sitting in a tire (WTF?)

I would have to agree with the strategy of trying to grow enough to feed you and the deer. In my observations the last thing they eat in the 'urban areas' are the native plants. The wild roses, saskatoons, oregon grapes seem to avoid their wrath.

I'd love to hear other suggestions as I'm trying to take on a similar endeavour.
 
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If you can visit the area regularly, a spray of dilute urine on the plants and surroundings might repel the deer.  This worked for me a few times on sweet potatoes, which are one of their favorites.  Incidentally this is about the only thing I found that would repel the armadillo....that scourge of the South.  They don't eat plants, but churn up mulch and topsoil looking for bugs and worms and will turn a whole area upside down overnight.  
 
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When I was a kid,  I read a book that described trapping deer,  with a figure 4 dead fall...
Clearly not an option now, but it still amazes me that people hunt for trophy's when there's steak to be had.

If we can use obvious physical barriers, we could go with strait up deer netting,  itd hella cheap.
But this is gorilla gardening, signs of human intervention brings scrutiny, thus the need for plants that protect themselves.
I wonder, could a ring of something totally noxious,  like tobacco, protect a shrub or tree, until it's big enough to survive on its own?
Or do deer eat tobacco as well as tomato and potato leaves?
They probably do,  the pikers.

On a different note,  a motion activated,  battery powered,  5 gallon sprinkler filled with pee or ammonia would be kinda hilarious, against deer or package thieves.

Could an screen topped bucket of ammonia or pee be enough to ward them away?
What if it where a closed container but included a wick irrigation arrangement?



 
pollinator
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No deer problem here, I read quite often about deer damage on Permies. Here the hunting clubs keep their numbers down, but the hunters are getting old. In ten years time they'll stop en masse i fear which will lead to an explosion in deer and wild boar and badgers.
So i better prepare with thick hedges of deer resistant trees if i read this.
1 What is the concensus on hedge trees they don't eat?
2 Do the deer come to zone 1 or is the problem more out there away from the house?
3 what is the role wolves play in here?
4 isn't it possible to keep a small terrier like dog on a plot to keep deer out?
Sorry if my questions seem silly.
 
Meg Mitchell
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Hugo Morvan wrote:No deer problem here, I read quite often about deer damage on Permies. Here the hunting clubs keep their numbers down, but the hunters are getting old. In ten years time they'll stop en masse i fear which will lead to an explosion in deer and wild boar and badgers.
So i better prepare with thick hedges of deer resistant trees if i read this.
1 What is the concensus on hedge trees they don't eat?
2 Do the deer come to zone 1 or is the problem more out there away from the house?
3 what is the role wolves play in here?
4 isn't it possible to keep a small terrier like dog on a plot to keep deer out?
Sorry if my questions seem silly.



The disappearance of the hunters is the (final) reason we have an issue with deer here. Originally there were cougars, wolves and other predators that kept the local deer in check; when people moved in, they didn't like the idea of having those kinds of animals running around near the kids and livestock so they were wiped out. The deer were then kept under control by the local people who were happy to eat free venison, but nowadays there are a lot of areas where it's illegal to hunt, plus there are also a lot fewer people interested in hunting. The deer around here are grossly overpopulated, but they aren't afraid of people or most dogs. I'm not sure about deer resistant hedges; if you had something dense, thorny and well-established that might work but you would have to baby it until it got established?
 
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We live in the 'bosom' of Ma Nature and have a decent garden by using these animal deterrent methods -

1) plant what no one eats - rosemary, irises, daffodils, sage, oregano, thyme top our 'landscaping' list.

Our is a steep hill side lot so fencing is near impossible for heights to keep deer out. We individually fence off our fruit trees and have re-useable mesh wire cages for individual plants in our (food) garden. This limits us to 'bush' varieties but find those are easier to water and harvest anyway.

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Jay Angler
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Meg Mitchell wrote:

Hugo Morvan wrote:No deer problem here, I read quite often about deer damage on Permies. Here the hunting clubs keep their numbers down, but the hunters are getting old. In ten years time they'll stop en masse i fear which will lead to an explosion in deer and wild boar and badgers.
So i better prepare with thick hedges of deer resistant trees if i read this.
1 What is the concensus on hedge trees they don't eat?
2 Do the deer come to zone 1 or is the problem more out there away from the house?
3 what is the role wolves play in here?
4 isn't it possible to keep a small terrier like dog on a plot to keep deer out?
Sorry if my questions seem silly.



The disappearance of the hunters is the (final) reason we have an issue with deer here. Originally there were cougars, wolves and other predators that kept the local deer in check; when people moved in, they didn't like the idea of having those kinds of animals running around near the kids and livestock so they were wiped out. The deer were then kept under control by the local people who were happy to eat free venison, but nowadays there are a lot of areas where it's illegal to hunt, plus there are also a lot fewer people interested in hunting. The deer around here are grossly overpopulated, but they aren't afraid of people or most dogs. I'm not sure about deer resistant hedges; if you had something dense, thorny and well-established that might work but you would have to baby it until it got established?

Around here, only the largest farms have the distances needed for the Municipality to be happy with guns firing, but we do have a Native population (I think in the US you may use the term"Tribal" - the names keep changing) who have traditional rights to take deer for food at any time of the year, and we've been working on encouraging them to do so. Cougars are our traditional predator, and every time one of them shows up, Animal Control kills it, with rare exceptions. I keep telling people, "If you don't have a cougar, you have to do the cougar's job!" (apologies to Sepp Holzer -  but it's the truth in many situations.) In the heavily built up areas of the nearby city, they've started giving the deer birth control. It was the only approach they could get more or less consensus on for managing the population.
However, to answer Hugo's questions: 1. They will tend to eat anything young or new growth, so protecting the hedge until it's large enough to survive some browse would be important. That said, they don't seem to like our cottonwoods or native willow as much as they like baby fruit trees, but those aren't hedgerow-sized plants. I'm thinking that one would have to plant *very* closely so that the stems provided a physical barrier to really work when the pressure is high.
2. Our deer *love* zone one - we've got large apple trees right beside the driveway about 15 ft from the door we always use and they clean up all the wind-fall apples that I don't nab first and take to the ducks/chickens.
3. No wolves here, but my reading suggests they do two important things - a) the take down the sick/injured/elderly/young which improves the population and b) they keep them moving so the deer are less likely to over-browse a specific area. That is definitely the effect of the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park had on the Elk (old reading - I'm pretty sure they were called Elk, but someone correct me if I'm miss-remembering)
4. Dogs can discourage deer, but deer have actually attacked small dogs, so one would have to do more research to determine a breed that would be genuinely helpful in protecting an area. Then the problem would be keeping the dog where you want it to be. I'm not a dog person, so I'm going by what my friends have told me who have dogs. One friend's Standard Poodle ignores the deer and rabbits, but her Havenese chases them with abandon to her concern. Another friend had a large "animal protection" dog, but they were convinced that if the presence of the dog wasn't enough to scare off the interloper, the best Sadie would do is try to lick the interloper to death. It's a double-edged sword. How does the dog know who/what to attack and therefore be good at its job, vs becoming a potential danger to children, farm animals, or innocent bystanders? For sure, it would take considerable time and effort to get a dog trained to stay in that sweet spot.
 
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For things that are eaten as seedlings, but not when mature. I've had success just sticking some sticks in the ground such that the deer would hit the sticks before the plant. I've heard they don't like getting poked in the face. By the time the plants outgrow the sticks, they are no longer palatable.
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Sticks around marigolds. Yes, the first round of marigolds was eaten.
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starting to outgrow the sticks, but not eaten so far...
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In back, just left of center, three sticks are protecting and asparagus.
 
Anne Miller
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Amy, I like your idea about using sticks.  I might try that next year.

So all leaves in the garden are gone so the deer now like walking onions!

What they have not touched so far are honey suckle and turks cap.

 
wayne fajkus
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Sticks help with deer girdling established trees also. If the rub their antlers on the trunk they will scrape the sticks rather than the tree. About 4 hammered around the trunk should work. Great for new pecan trees that have leaves higher than they can reach.
 
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Our "deer" here are goats. My solutions are multi-faceted.

I have the veggie garden in a pallet fence. Each fruit tree is surrounded by a cage of hardware cloth. And now I'm trying a couple of moringa trees surrounded by cut Jathropa shrubs (toxic, so the goats stay away). So far, not one goat has bothered them all day. We'll see if it let's them get established enough to outrun some nibbling.

I also plan to outrun the goats with sheer numbers. My goal is to plant 1,000 moringa or so with the hope 10% of them make it into healthy trees. Any extras can be chopped and dropped. I'll do the same with Lycenna, Neem, and vetiver, along with other goat treats.

My dogs are doing pretty well understanding the phrase "get the goat!" They just chase them in circles, but it terrorizes them enough that they seem to be avoiding our yard a bit more. And once I get my slingshot, that will help to terrorize them some more.

I'm also investigating ways of making a living fence. We'll see how that works.
 
Jay Angler
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Priscilla Stilwell wrote:

Our "deer" here are goats.

Ouch! Goats no only eat the leaves, but they are browsers that actually need to eat woody material as well from what I've been told. They've also got a reputation for going over and through fencing like deer can, so I suspect your multi-faceted approach is the only way to go. The only goats in my area would be considered farm animals, so if one showed up, Animal Control would try to find it a home.
 
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I am growing a lot of black eyed susans this year, as they are said to be poisonous to deer. I still kept them all in a small pvc hoop house I covered in mesh fabric for like the first couple months, but removed that now and they are still alive.

Before I let them all out, I set three plants out in the very back by the woods they frequent to test if they would eat them; the flowers had only just opened up  then. Well, they nibbled the leaves of two of them after a couple days, but the flowers were left in place.

I mostly grow herbs the deer leave alone, and am propagating them to eventually surround our yard in them to mainly make it less attractive to a clan (?) of deer near us, even my youngest child screams widely at and chases after them with large sticks.

We don’t appreciate the ticks and fleas they bring, they killed my apple trees and almost my dwarf pear (which has not recovered), plus they jump our duck fencing to get at their seed (which is really close to our house).

My middle child got bit by a tick last year, so I consider the deer a threat. However, it is cost preventing to fence our whole backyard, and that would be an eyesore they still can jump over.
 
Audrey Wrobel
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Rosemary, chives, oregano, chamomile, marigolds, sage, thyme, feverfew, lovage, mints, cilantro, calendula, and many other herbs and herbal flowers I have grown the deer never touch here. They hate onions, hot peppers, don’t mess with my pink sedum, haven’t touched the goldenrod overhanging a garden fence, but they do eat the wild blackberries out in the woods part of our property.

There are other herbs the deer hate that I plan to grow next year, such as yarrow, garlic I will plant this week, for example. (I cannot find my binder right now where I wrote down my plans, though, or I would share more of things they are reported to leave alone as far as herbs.

It could be they don’t touch my marigolds because they are more interested in duck feed, as the fabric pot for those flowers is set beside the duck fence.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:Amy, I like your idea about using sticks.  I might try that next year.

So all leaves in the garden are gone so the deer now like walking onions!

What they have not touched so far are honey suckle and turks cap.



Are you sure it’s not rabbits or another critter eating those onions? Just asking, because I have never had a deer touch any I grew.
 
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William Bronson wrote: When I was a kid,  I read a book that described trapping deer,  with a figure 4 dead fall...
Clearly not an option now, but it still amazes me that people hunt for trophy's when there's steak to be had.

If we can use obvious physical barriers, we could go with strait up deer netting,  itd hella cheap.
But this is gorilla gardening, signs of human intervention brings scrutiny, thus the need for plants that protect themselves.
I wonder, could a ring of something totally noxious,  like tobacco, protect a shrub or tree, until it's big enough to survive on its own?
Or do deer eat tobacco as well as tomato and potato leaves?
They probably do,  the pikers.

On a different note,  a motion activated,  battery powered,  5 gallon sprinkler filled with pee or ammonia would be kinda hilarious, against deer or package thieves.

Could an screen topped bucket of ammonia or pee be enough to ward them away?
What if it where a closed container but included a wick irrigation arrangement?





I heard my stepsister say wolf pee is supposed to keep them at a distance, but yeah who’s volunteering to fetch it?
 
Anne Miller
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Audrey Wrobel wrote: Are you sure it’s not rabbits or another critter eating those onions? Just asking, because I have never had a deer touch any I grew.



It is deer. The Walking onions are in a raised bed too tall for rabbit and since the deer ate the leaves off the tomato plants planted with them it is likely that when the tomato leaves were all gone they tried the next best thing and the only thing left there.  The honeysuckle and turks caps are in front of the house in a plain view so that maybe why they have not tried them.
 
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