Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oh! Deer!

    Lately, I have been wishing I was a deer hunter.  Of course, this isn't deer hunting season, but I am getting so exasperated with the deer around our house, I wish someone would shoot a few of them!  When I looked out the window the other day, there were so many grazing in the horse pasture it looked as if we were raising them!  If they would stay out there, it would be fine, but they seem to prefer grazing around the house.
    They have eaten off all my tulips, but two.  I don't think they have discovered them yet.  (Notice how pretty the tulips looked last year in the Spring pictures on My Garden page.)  Not so this year!  Fortunately, they don't like daffodils so at least they look beautiful!
     Now the deer are working on the day lilies!  What makes this so irritating is that I have day lilies growing on the banks along our lane, in addition to those growing in my gardens.  The deer could at least be eating those if they have a taste for day lilies!   They have a path right through them, but instead those pesky deer are walking boldly right up to the back door and eating the new growth of the day lilies in what I call my courtyard.  When these are in bloom in June the courtyard is particularly beautiful (see Summer pictures on My Garden page).  I hope they haven't completely ruined them.
     For several years I have used a product called Liquid Fence to keep the deer away.  (Because of being on vacation I hadn't yet applied it this year--even though I kept having the nagging thought that I had better get it done.)  It has been relatively effective--when I use it.   The problem though, with any of these products is they need to be reapplied after a rain, and since it rains so frequently in the spring this gets rather expensive, not to mention time-consuming.   Liquid Fence concentrate costs about $30/quart and only makes enough to spray my plants twice since I have so many.
     Last May I visited a botanical garden planted and tended by a retired professor from Eastern Illinois University.  He said the thing he has found most effective in repelling deer is a bar of Irish Spring Soap melted in about a gallon of water.  He then dilutes this and sprays it on his plants as he needs it.  He said the concentrate makes several gallons, maybe up to 50.  It obviously is much less expensive, so I decided to try it out this year.  An easier solution to melting a bar of the soap seemed to be to use Irish Spring liquid soap.  I hope it is just as effective.  Yesterday I added a little to water and sprayed my most vulnerable plants.
     I'll let you know how well it works.  Unfortunately, rain is forecast for tonight, so I will probably have to do it again in a day or two.  Those pesky deer cause me a lot of extra time and trouble!

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