I DE-CLARE WAR on deer and rabbits!

I DECLARE WAR on deer and rabbits!

Score:

Deer & rabbits – 4 (number of times I’ve had to replant my beans!)

Ria – 0

About 15 years ago my husband hand turned and tilled a 20’ x 15’ garden bed for me for Mother’s Day. It was the best present ever! Sadly, that garden returned to turf over the next few years as garlic was the only crop the deer and rabbits wouldn’t eat. I grew tomatoes in the bed adjacent to the back of the house until deer found it, too. More than once I looked out of my kitchen window into the very guilty eyes of Deer-zilla.

This year the fever hit again. The Grow It Eat It frenzy proved contagious to me too. I planted 2 Maryland Salad Tables™ and 1 Maryland Salad Box™. Sadly, there was no sunny deer-free place to put them since building a new deck is this summer’s home improvement project. So they look pretty awful in the shade, under the overflowing gutters. Major bummer!

Taking pity on me, my husband comes to the rescue and surprises me by tilling a new garden – 35’ x 15’ – much larger than the last one. But this is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and we’re leaving for the long weekend. He returns the tiller acknowledging that 10 more feet need to be tilled so there will be enough sun in the actual growing part of the garden.

Um…when do I get to plant the garden? We’ll be out of town most of the next few weekends and we have to solve that nasty little 4-legged varmint problem before we can plant. Then we go on vacation the end of June.

Jon said he’d sell me his electric deer exclusion fence since he was putting up a more substantial fence. Oh, no…with all of the GIEI classes going on, Jon doesn’t have time to put in a new fence after all! Now what? No problem, I’ll take care of the deer thing… I work at the Home and Garden Information Center after all! Hmmm…but I live in Columbia with strict enforcement of covenants. No problem, I’ll just chat it up with my neighbors and promise to share the harvest with them if they don’t rat me out.

My husband’s one request was that I plan everything out before I plant the first plant or purchase and install a fence. No problem. I carefully designed my garden complete with 3 foot mulched walkways around the perimeter and between the twelve 4’ x 6’ plots. Then I researched all of HGIC’s literature and consulted with Jon but I just couldn’t quite figure out this electric fence thing. The kits on-line weren’t exactly right. The local hardware stores each only had some of the equipment. The big box stores didn’t have anything for electric fences. Not as easy as I thought to plan everything in advance.

I had one weekend to act, June 6 – 7; my husband was out of town. I bought mulch and Leafgro from the local hardware store. I lowered the blades of the lawnmower and scalped the remaining 10’ x 35’ area that Neil wanted to til. HGIC was promoting lasagna and no-till gardens and I thought a comparison of methods would be a good thing. I put 3” of mulch over news

paper and/or cardboard on the walkways and 4 bags of Leafgro in each 4’ x 6’ plot without newspaper or cardboard. Nothing planted but it looked pretty good and so far I had honored my husband’s request.

So what kind of posts for this fence? Metal U-posts, fiberglass step-in posts, white or black plastic step-in posts…none of which sound attractive. What do you think? Eventually we chose wood posts for the corners and black plastic step-in posts in between. The white polytape proved too unattractive. Replaced it with polywire, added 3 extra strands at the bottom AND wire fencing inside the polywire. I’ll probably be very sorry I put this in print but since July 19 I haven’t seen any additional deer or rabbit feeding damage.

What are the rest of you doing to keep out deer and rabbits?

4 Comments on “I DE-CLARE WAR on deer and rabbits!

  1. Hi there, nice, ummm?, to know that others have the same difficulty. I see so many gardens unadorned with fences and wonder how they do it. We had to buy some poly fence thinking that it would be a good deal. With some wood from the freecycle group it was a nice thing. Well those little buggers chewed through the poly and had a fiesta! Well, then we had those awful plastic grocery sacks and so tied them to the bottom part of the fence. Creating a barrier seems to have done the trick. We now have things beginning to show produce and we are slobbering at the soon to be menus we can create. Might even have enough after replanting many things to 'put by' or can or dehydrate. Wish us luck as we do for you too.

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  2. We have a community garden plot in Rockville, and thought the bugs and soil diseases are fierce, the one benefit over backyard gardening (besides the gardenwise neighbors) seems to be competition for the deer . . . we don't fence, and expect to have a grazed path cut through our plot three or four times a season, but for the most part the deer & other critters just keep moving on to our neighbors' plots. I overplant everything, and use sporadic netting to confuse the issue further, but I think not being isolated is the key here. Mexican bean beetles, on the other hand, hit everyone's plots at once!

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  3. My big problem is groundhogs. They can't climb my new 6-foot plastic deer fence the way they used to get over the 4-foot wire one, and we have wire fence underground, but it has weak spots they're very clever in finding and digging through – or disassembling aboveground! And plastic deer fence is easy to chew through.

    I think my next step is electric – maybe a low wire around the perimeter will stop them, or at least discourage them. And next year they get their own garden outside the fence. If you can't beat them, buy kale seed in bulk?

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