Leaves are falling off of the deciduous trees and food is becoming more spare for the deer. Instead of feasting in the woods it draws them onto people’s properties to forage for food. Well cared for and fertilized plants are prime food for deer, think filet mignon with a nice cognac sauce. Did you know the average buck weights 200 pounds? Think about the caloric intake required for that buck. Deer carry fleas in droves and have on average 500 ticks on their bodies at any given time. Deer are something you need to keep off your property not just to save your gardens, but for the health of your family and pets.
Why are deer eating my plants this year but haven’t previously?
Deer patterns are constantly changing and they are based on deer population and food supply. As the woods thin due to nature via occurrences like storms, the food supply for deer naturally decreases and they seek food in yards. Man is constantly cutting down woodlands and plants to make room for new homes, shopping malls and increasing the size of the land, this is cutting back on their natural habitat and brings deer out to seek new sources. If your neighbor has put up a fence, that too can re-direct the deer pattern.
Will planting deer resistant plants keep the deer away?
The first line of defense is having a completely enclosed yard. If that is not a possibility, the next line of defense is to plant deer resistant plants. Keep in mind that once a deer gets hungry enough they will eat nearly anything much along the lines of a person who doesn’t like broccoli but left stranded on a desert island would have a change of heart and consume it.
Tell me about the old fashioned ways to keep deer at bay and what works today?
There are old wives tales about sprinkling detergent flakes around the garden except we now know two things: washing machine detergent is no longer made in flakes it is in powders and liquids and detergents 40 years ago were not regulated the way they are today and contained chemicals which could damage food supply.
Hanging tin foil and mobiles is another old wives tale which is in fact effective if you are willing to drape Shepherd’s hooks through your garden with tin foil scraps hanging off of them.
What is available commercially and what does it contain?
The traditional technical material to deter deer from eating your plants is called thiuram disulfide. This material is milky in color, toxic and unsightly. The color can be altered by adding even more toxic chemical to the mix and can be changed to blue or green however it can stain your siding, walkways and anything else it comes into contact with. This chemical coats the plants and sets on top. It’s a deterrent that can sit on a plant for up to two years but when a deer is hungry enough, they will eat right past the bitter taste as they can still smell the plant. Organic products seek to eliminate the plant odor signature to the deer which makes them pass by the food. They consist of natural products grown in nature which encapsulate the plant and don’t draw deer to the property. With either product all new growth needs to be re-sprayed or deer will be drawn to the plants.
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Stacy Skoldberg is managing partner of GreenSprays, an organic lawn care and tree company. She can be followed on Twitter @greenspraysllc, Facebook GreenSprays or reached at 203-916-3666, firstname.lastname@example.org.