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Archive for the ‘Deer & Squirrels’ Category

Last week when I finally decided to get myself out of bed, I walked sleepy-eyed toward the stairs and looked out the window, as is typical of every morning. To my surprise, there were two large deer just hanging out in our neighbor’s yard. It’s not that we haven’t seen deer in our neighborhood — we actually see them fairly often, sometimes just walking down the middle of the street.

They bolted not even a minute after I woke up and jumped over the fence to go … well, wherever they went. It actually made me think of Tripod/Bruce who used to come around a lot. We haven’t seen him in a while, so I hope he’s OK.

After grabbing my cup of coffee, I walked into our office to check my email and on the way to my desk I noticed a big, fat rabbit hanging out in our backyard. He (or she) was happily chewing away at our grass.

Luckily though, it didn’t get to any of our vegetables and everything looked fine when I went outside to check later. All of our plants are doing really well, especially the broccoli, which last year got chewed by slugs and cabbage butterfly larvae. I was a bit surprised there weren’t more than a couple holes in the leaves and it makes me think the garlic we have planted next to it and in two other beds are doing a fantastic job keeping our garden safe.

The rabbit eventually hopped back into our woods (really, just a patch of honeysuckle) and disappeared. It stayed for a while and provided a great morning show for these two. You know something big is happening outside when they’re this close together (they get along fine, but aren’t the best of friends).

 

Meera, left, and Rajah watching the rabbit.

Meera, left, and Rajah watching the rabbit.

We are getting used to seeing (and hearing) all sorts of wildlife, but it is still strange sometimes, especially living in city limits.

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Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it.

Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it, but it hasn’t grown much bigger than this.

As some of our space cleared from summer vegetables that stopped producing or died, we were really excited to plant our fall garden. Peas could go where the cucumber was, lettuce could take over the first bed, Brussels sprouts and broccoli could fill in wherever they’d fit. It was a great plan, or so we thought.

We should have known that when multiple sowings of lettuce, spinach and broccoli seed never sprouted that it was probably a bad sign. I assumed we hadn’t watered them enough, the seeds were bad, something. So we decided to try to start everything in pots and transplant where needed later.

This part worked wonderfully. We had lots of baby lettuce and almost a dozen Brussels sprouts plants.

The peas we planted in place started to sprout and grow. It looked promising.

But looking promising and being productive are two different things, and our fall garden excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

The lettuce transplants look great, but they aren’t any bigger than the day we put them in the raised beds. All the Brussels sprouts either wilted or had their leaves chewed by something. And the kale we tried to grow in a pot? Knocked over and spilled everywhere –probably as a result of the squirrels trying to bury acorns wherever they can.

While it was unfortunate we couldn’t keep the harvest going into the cooler months, we’ll try again next year. And we hope, with a little more planning, we’ll have a fantastic fall garden.

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Deer

Our frequent visitor. The three-legged deer.

He’s not completely missing a leg, he just walks around with his front right leg pulled up like a flamingo. I wish we knew what happened – maybe he got nicked by a car or tangled up somehow in the woods.

He’s been coming around our house for about a year, so maybe it’s time we give him a name. I’m kind of amazed he survived all this time and how big he’s gotten. When we came home from a bike ride, I slowly approached him to take a picture. Even from a distance it seemed like he was 4 or 5 feet tall.

It’s likely he’s responsible for our early gardening season losses. Luckily this time he was munching on the bushes at the edge of the woods line.

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Pickles are a staple in our house, and there is almost always at least one jar in the fridge. Last summer I was looking for a more natural way to kill weeds popping up in between the cracks in the sidewalk/paths around our house and stumbled upon an article that said pickle juice would work, so I gave it a shot. (more…)

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It only took four days. That’s how long the deer “waited” before feasting on our newly planted vegetables. We planted the majority of our garden this past Sunday and after a couple days, everything seemed fine.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

There was a little bit of a pepper leaf torn off, but not a big deal. Then, checking our garden this afternoon, we saw the full brunt of the damage, along with a few hoof prints left behind in the soil.

Our spinach was sheared to stems and the cherry/grape tomato plants were chewed to nubs. The deer also did a number on our pea and ate all but a couple leaves from both our zucchini plants. Oddly enough, they left the yellow squash alone. I also think it is a bit strange that for two months they never nibbled on the growing spinach, peas or lettuce and somehow decided this was the opportune moment.

So now we’re in full defense mode against these beasts, which, under any other circumstance, I don’t mind having around our house.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Here’s the plan:

Garlic and cayenne pepper. I tried this toward the end of last year and it seemed to work. I mix the powdered versions (what you buy in the spice aisle at the grocery store) with water and spray generously around and on the plants. I might even add egg or milk to the mix to help it stick to the leaves.

Mint. We’ll move our mint pot to the area we want to protect. Apparently the strong smell is not so pleasing to the deer.

Marigolds. It’s the same idea as above. The strong smell is supposed to keep the deer away. Probably buy several of these to put near each raised bed. Other plants could help and we might try those too.

We’ve bought two replacement zucchini and transplanted the others to pots and will do the same for the tomatoes. Last year the deer damaged tomato plants recovered a bit and actually produced some. The only positive to this situation is that the deer ate everything early. If it must happen, I’d rather it be now than when the plants are well established.

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So when I came home today, the gray devils were sitting on the edge of our raised beds. I figured it was not a good sign because they already dug up our lettuce earlier this year, and earlier this month I caught one red-handed feverishly searching for acorns in our potted plants.

Our street is lined with big, beautiful oak trees so I know why there are so many. Don’t get me wrong, I usually adore squirrels and love watching them run around, but I despise when they invade our garden.

A mixture that will repel squirrels and other critters. I hope.

I did a lot of reading this weekend about controlling pests in the garden. We’ve had more than enough to deal with this year. One consistent (and natural) deterrent I found was cayenne pepper and garlic.

I mixed a healthy amount of garlic powder and cayenne pepper in about one gallon of water in the watering can. I don’t know how much I used because, like with my cooking, I never measure.

I sprinkled the solution all around the garden and focused on the lettuce and peas, which we replanted last weekend. Keeping my fingers crossed that it works!

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After what seemed like an endless streak of hot weather and FOREVER without rain, the past couple weeks brought a break in the 100-degree heat and a handful of much-needed moisture from Mother Nature.

Our green beans are finally growing again and starting to climb the poles. The tomatoes are turning red, and the squash plants are blossoming. While most of that is good news, nothing is ever perfect.

We have deer repellent (cloth bags filled with meat meal and red pepper–kind of gross, but it seems to work) hanging in our woods and near the green beans to deter them from feasting on our efforts. It appeared to be effective. At least I thought so.

Last week I went outside to check on everything and noticed most of our lettuce was gone, except for a couple small clumps. Matt said he didn’t pick any so my best guess is the deer thought it would make a nice snack.

On a positive note, however, that gives us a little room to try broccoli again for a fall harvest, and some of the lettuce is the “cut-and-come-again” leaf variety so a couple gnawed plants are putting out new leaves.

It appears that everything is starting to turn around, which is a good thing!

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