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protecting a forest garden from deer and other critters

 
Shawn Creek
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I am very interested in starting a hidden forest garden but, I have many deer and other forest animals. Are there any plants or techniques that would survive in deer prone areas?
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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Definitely make up a batch of bone salve (http://www.permies.com/t/1805//Sepp-Holzer-recipe-animals-trees). I made some this winter in a roasting pan set we found at a thrift store (much like this one). We used clay from the dollar store to seal it, and a scrap piece of fencing to hold the bones to the top half of the pot. It was all together quite cheep, and not as hard as I thought it would be!

I used old chicken and beef bones that had been in my freezer for waaaaaay too long. It made some really thick paste that I have to add water to. I use a paint brush and apply a few dabs to each branch. So far, I've only had one bite on my apple trees (last year, before the salve, they were mostly destroyed by deer). The salve is cheep and easy to apply. I even applied it to my thimbleberries and raspberries with no problem.

As for herbaceous plants, the salve probably wouldn't be good idea. Hopefully someone else has a good idea!
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 112
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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food preservation forest garden hunting tiny house trees woodworking
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Depending on what's already growing on site you could try grafting branches of species you want onto mature compatible trees already growing on site - above browse height. This would at least reduce losses to deer.

The trouble with a "hidden" garden is that you can't use many of the most effective methods like netting, fencing, etc. because doing so shows that there's something there worth protecting. Your best bet may be just to plant way more than you need with the expectation that you're going to lose a lot of it to the animals.
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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Without knowing more about where you are located, and exactly what sort of notice you want to avoid, it's hard to provide advice...

In my area, you might be able to build a fence, then hide that fence with a Himalayan blackberry patch in the course of a year or less. Or even establish blackberries as a perimeter and wait to plant inside until the blackberries are tall enough to deter passage.

I've got some volunteer fruit trees from seed or suckers around an unfenced plum. They've clearly been stripped by the deer or rabbits frequently, and aren't doing too well... except the one that has blackberry runners all over it, protecting it. So you could also use blackberries or similar to protect individual trees.

You could combine this with bone salve, too.
 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 414
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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"And other critters" is the telltale phrase in your question. I think deer are the easiest to stop. It's the raccoons, pack rats, rabbits, etc. I think it's really important for your peace of mind to invest in an 8 foot chicken wire fence. Bend the bottom 6" outward to stop anybody from digging, let the weeds grow through that turned-out section to hold it down. I finally started sleeping well once the fence went up. It's also a wall for vines and espaliered fruit trees. It can be used for lots of things.

A good fence adds value to your property.

If you can't do it right away, you can stop critters with egg yolk spray. Foliar spray of 3 egg yolks mixed with water in a 16 oz. kitchen bottle type sprayer. Strain off the whites first. Refrigerate any you don't use, but that will go pretty far. Spray at first every 3 days, then once a week. If it rains you'll need to repeat it. But if it rains, they are right there at 5:00 AM staring hard at all that great green stuff.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1253
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Cristo Balete wrote:"And other critters" is the telltale phrase in your question. I think deer are the easiest to stop. It's the raccoons, pack rats, rabbits, etc. I think it's really important for your peace of mind to invest in an 8 foot chicken wire fence. Bend the bottom 6" outward to stop anybody from digging, let the weeds grow through that turned-out section to hold it down. I finally started sleeping well once the fence went up. It's also a wall for vines and espaliered fruit trees. It can be used for lots of things.

A good fence adds value to your property.

If you can't do it right away, you can stop critters with egg yolk spray. Foliar spray of 3 egg yolks mixed with water in a 16 oz. kitchen bottle type sprayer. Strain off the whites first. Refrigerate any you don't use, but that will go pretty far. Spray at first every 3 days, then once a week. If it rains you'll need to repeat it. But if it rains, they are right there at 5:00 AM staring hard at all that great green stuff.


Chicken wire fences around my trees is what killed them last year so I'd be very careful about that. Of course we get severe winds here. My trees and everything just blow all over the place. As such the chicken wire cage actually stripped them of their bark.
 
siu-yu man
Posts: 99
Location: zone 6a, north america
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would adding soap to the egg spray allow the scent to last longer?
 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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elle, I meant a fence around the whole garden, not each tree. With a "road" between the fence and the trees wide enough so that the tree limbs don't overhang the fence. Raccoons can use the overhanging limbs and break them. Deer will stand on their hind legs to eat any green leaves that overhang the fence, and can yank down a limb

siu-yu, rain pretty much rinses off soap or egg yolks. Even wet fog will. I haven't found soap to make any difference, and I'd be concerned about putting too much soap into the water and damaging the leaves. Animals' sense of smell is much better than ours, so a light coat of the diluted yolk does the trick.

It helps to clean out the sprayer each time because the yolk can clog it.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1253
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Cristo Balete wrote:elle, I meant a fence around the whole garden, not each tree. With a "road" between the fence and the trees wide enough so that the tree limbs don't overhang the fence. Raccoons can use the overhanging limbs and break them. Deer will stand on their hind legs to eat any green leaves that overhang the fence, and can yank down a limb

siu-yu, rain pretty much rinses off soap or egg yolks. Even wet fog will. I haven't found soap to make any difference, and I'd be concerned about putting too much soap into the water and damaging the leaves. Animals' sense of smell is much better than ours, so a light coat of the diluted yolk does the trick.

It helps to clean out the sprayer each time because the yolk can clog it.


Ah I see. I suppose that would then depend on the size of the area.
 
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