I am hoping for some advice from more experienced folk on my lovely, but also slightly scary prospect.
Firstly, some back ground information. We live on a 15 acre smallholding. The whole plot pretty much gently slopes facing North. We are in a valley where the wind mostly comes from the West. The location is North East Scotland. For reasons that I don't fully understand we live in a micro climate in our wee valley. Slightly colder than surrounding areas in the Winter, slightly warmer than surrounding areas in the Summer.
For the past two years we have lived at the bottom of the hill in a static caravan whilst building our cabin half way up the hill. I sited my garden behind the static caravan where it is sheltered from the wind. We fenced it in from the chickens. Plot is about 80 metres long by 10 meters wide. Last year I worked on improving the soil as much as possible. The drainage is pretty poor after years of intensive farming, but I still managed to get good crops of reliable sorts such as potatoes, leeks, onions, kale, beans and peas. Beetroots weren't very happy, neither was carrots. I did manage to have one lush patch of parsnips, but ego got the better of me and I left them in the ground too long admiring them and they became very woody!
In front of the caravan I planted about 60 trees and shrubs. Mostly Apple, Alder, Willow, Hawthorne, Blackcurrant and Raspberries. All was going well.
This winter we have moved into the cabin up the hill, and the Deer have systemically destroyed a large portion of trees (despite putting covers on them.) And they ate my leeks, onions, my overwintering greens (most heartbroken about the broccoli) I was disheartened, but resolved to move the garden up the hill, closer to the house, following the permaculture idea of zoning. I planned to move my fencing and section off a similar sized plot to the west side of the house. There is running water in the form of a stream and a nice, sheltering bank of Alders in place. It is right back to scratch with tractor divots and compacted soil, and it doesn't feel right.
So I thought about deer fencing the whole of the old garden, taking in the static caravan and all the trees at the front. This would give me a huge area to play with, and would go some way to protect the surviving trees from the little darlings. BUT it is really expensive. I have been quoted 286 pounds for the materials, and it will be a pretty labour intensive job. I keep thinking that I could have a decent greenhouse for that money instead.
Here you see my dilemma.
In a nutshell: Do I move the garden up the hill and start again? Using my existing fencing and keeping costs down? Or, do I spend quite a lot of money and time fencing the existing garden?
There are a lot of threads on here about inexpensive deer fencing. It seems to boil down to a few things that reliably keep deer from your garden. There's tall fences that block their leap, short double fences that they can't clear in a single bound, barriers opposite the fencing that don't let the deer see their landing zone and electrical fencing of course. I'm going to list a few of the discussions and maybe one or more of these would be relevant to your circumstances.
I would recommend moving the garden up the hill. Starting over is not fun but having the garden close by will save you time and energy in the long run. The first garden spot could still be useful - you could try planting some edible perennials in that area that would not need as much care. There are some that are deer resistant and would not need to be fenced. People in your area might know which species to grow. This would let you benefit from the work you all ready did and would follow permaculture zoning principles and should make your life easier down the road.
It seems that deer fencing or keeping the deer out of the garden has always been a very popular topic. This is the first year we have been bother by the deer. I think it is because there is a feral hog feeding at our feeders.
We put up an electric fence. For something cheap: I like the junk pole fence and the string fence.
Willy Kerlang wrote:I live in an area where deer are a MAJOR problem. Several years ago I discovered a product called Plantskydd, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I am usually not a brand-loyal kind of guy, but this stuff is the only thing I have found that works for me and I recommend it to everyone. I lost my entire garden three years in a row, but in the four or so years I have been using this stuff I haven't had a single deer in the garden. I don't know whether it's officially "organic" or what--but I do know the main ingredient is deer blood. It stinks to high heaven. It was formulated in Sweden (which has very tough environmental laws) to protect the evergreen sapling industry from losing their inventory to moose every year. You simply spray it on the plant, choosing a dry day, and because it's oil based it soaks into the plant tissue and stays (as long as it doesn't rain for a day or two after). You do not have to apply this stuff more than twice a season, so for a small garden like mine one bottle can last you for years. If you are going to use it on fruiting plants like tomatoes, don't spray the actual fruit. I would never use it on something like lettuce. But it works beautifully on all other kinds of plants, especially young fruit trees.