kale

kale
The overwintered kale is sprouting!

Friday, April 30, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Honestly! Is spring weather this crazy everywhere? Yesterday was a bizarre mixture of drizzle, clouds, torrential rain and a brief occasional spurt of sunshine to keep you from going crazy.. then, just after supper, the sky opened up and huge chunks of hail started to fall.. it was the biggest hail that I've ever seen - some of the balls measured 1 cm across! The kids had a great time of course.. but I was thinking that perhaps I should have covered some of the early veggies with a row cover..

This is not a great photo, but the chunks were melting as fast as I could hold them, and I was trying to rush the shot.. it gives you an idea of the size of some of the hail balls though and you can see the grass behind the hand is covered in the hail.. simply crazy weather!

On a happier note, the arugula sprouted in the coldframe (insert happy dance) - I'll try to get photos this weekend of the emerging crops - and my daily squishing of the slugs seems to be making a difference (knock on wood!). Most of the slugs are hiding out in a few clumps of tall grass that border the garden and I've been neglectful in digging them out.. when the sun comes out tomorrow (so, the local weatherman says - I'll believe it when I see it!), I'll get up there and finally remove them and hopefully eliminate one of the main hideouts for the slugs!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Upcoming Plant Sales!

Mark your calendars! There are some 'not-to-be-missed' plant sales coming up in the Halifax area over the next few weeks and I thought that I'd post a few of these events.. If you have a garden event coming up, e-mail me and I'll post it as well.

* The Bedford Horticultural Society will be holding their annual big plant sale on Saturday, May 22nd at 10 am at the Scott Manor House, Fort Sackville Road in Bedford. Available plants include seedlings and many perennials and shrubs. Please bring your own bags or trays for carrying. NO previewing prior to 10 am. Two master gardeners will also be on hand to answer questions.

* Halifax Westmoor Garden Club's plant sale will be on May 8th from 9 am to noon. It takes place at St. John the Baptist Church Hall at 26 Purcell's Cover Road in Halifax.

* The Atlantic Rhododendron and Horticultural Society will be holding their public plant sale on Saturday May 8th from 1 to 3:30 pm at Le Marchant - St. Thomas School gymnasium on 6141 Watt Street in Halifax. Expect a nice selection of tree and shrub seedlings, as well as rooted cuttings, perennials, annuals and more.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cold frame Update

The new cold frame is finally 'in-ground'!! We just finished digging the spot this past weekend, laid down some landscape fabric to deter weeds and then moved it into place. Sigh.. I then moved about 20 wheelbarrow loads of soil (my loads aren't too big!) into the frame, raked it level and planted seed!

I planted two rows of sweet baby carrots, Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, Sea of Red lettuce, baby romaine lettuce, arugula, golden beets and purple Pak choi.. I was going to post a photo of the seeded frame, but it looks almost the same as the above photos, except for the plant tags.

I'll keep posting on the progress of the seedlings.. but for now, I need to fill up the other end of the frame, plant it, clean up the mess around the frame (logs, rocks, debris) and then lay some mulch all around to tidy up the area.

We have plans for one more cold frame this season - only half as large as this monster though! I think the new one will be portable and not sunk in ground.. ideal for moving over garden crops as needed..

Spring is here! Happy Gardening!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Invasion of the Giant Cabbage!

UPDATED - Here's the correct photo.. I had posted the wrong one..

Giant veggie growing is a competitive hobby - but a fun one! This is a photo of Pete from New Brunswick who sent me a few of his precious giant cabbage seeds. (Pete also grows giant pumpkins and onions!)

His seeds came from a previous record holder in England - these cabbages can weight over 126 pounds! Talk about enough coleslaw to feed a crowd!

Pete's seeds arrived a few months ago and I planted them up, according to his instructions. I now have 3 seedlings and all are doing quite well and getting very big.. I will put them in the garden soon, tossing a row cover over top in case of a late-season frost. Pete tells me that these plants can grow about 6-feet in diameter and therefore need a lot of space.. Because space is tight in the veggie patch, I'm going to tuck them in between the perennials and shrubs in a new ornamental bed. Those plants are young and there is plenty of room for the cabbages to grow HUGE! Fingers crossed!

Happy Gardening - and thanks Pete!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jewels of Spring




Just a stone's throw from my house (ok, perhaps a 5 minute walk), there is a gorgeous garden tucked behind a tall evergreen hedge. The property is about an acre in size and is filled with a lovely assortment of exotic and native perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs - as well as a few veggie patches!

Faye is a very accomplished gardener who has a flair for pairing plants (although she would modestly deny this).. We popped by yesterday to check the progress of the garden, which is at its peak in May-June and here are a few of the hundreds of photos that I took..


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just because..

Sigh.. breathe it in.. the intense blue, the delicate petals.. what can I say? Sadly, they're my neighbour's meconopsis, but I still get to appreciate them!

Garden of Weeding!

Weeding is one of my least favourite activities and in terms of fun I would have to rate it somewhere between getting a root canal and beating my head repeatedly against a wall. That said, there is a certain amount of satisfaction derived from yanking on a stubborn dandelion and having the entire root slip easily from the soil. (You know what I'm talking about!)

After a rain I can often be found gleefully ripping weeds from the still damp soil of the veggie or perennial gardens. The ease with which the long taproots slip from the moist soil is a heady delight. When I’ve managed to pluck a particularly large weed in its entirety, I exuberantly wave it in the air to show my husband what a prize I’ve captured. He nods patiently knowing that I’m well on my way to complete insanity.

Weeding is a necessary evil in order to promote healthy plant growth and keep a garden looking its best. We all have certain weeds that we struggle with continuously year after year and my nemeses include Queen Anne’s lace and clover, although wild mustard is steadily climbing up the list.

Since the definition of a weed is ‘any unwanted plant’, I can easily categorize my very unwanted patch of curly mint as a weed. I did know better than to plant it betwixt the perennials, so I have no idea what I was thinking the day I nestled the harmless springs of mint beneath the vigorous leaves of my beloved delphiniums.

Although this particular garden was a contained raised bed, heavily lined with three layers of landscape fabric, two short years later the mint had spread not only across, but far beyond the containment of the garden assaulting the lawn, the gravel path meandering between the garden beds and into the distant rose garden. I comfort myself with the fact that if nothing else, the mint smells incredible when trod upon by wandering feet.

Not only do weeds make our gardens appear untidy, they also compete with our treasured plants for moisture, light and nutrients. As well, many weed species shelter insects and diseases, therefore eliminating weeds can increase the general health of your garden.

Have you ever noticed that when a weed is pulled from the garden, it seems as if two more grow in its place? Most weeds are not only extremely hardy and competitive, but they also produce profuse amounts of seed that sprout up year after year. Weed seeds may remain dormant in the soil for several seasons before germinating, and it is therefore vital to eliminate weeds before they are allowed to produce seeds.

Mulch is a great weed suppressor and is readily available from most garden centers in the form of wood chips, shredded bark, pea gravel or chopped leaves. Applied after weed removal (sorry, not before!), mulch will create a clean, attractive appearance and help repel encroaching weeds from your garden beds. It will also suppress further weed seed germination by blocking light from reaching the soil.

A two to three-inch layer of mulch is usually sufficient to suppress weed growth, but if you have particularly persistent weeds a four-inch thick layer may be required. Ensure that the mulch does not come in direct contact with the stems or trunks of your plants as slugs, moles and other small plant-eating creatures may lurk there.

In the veggie patch, planting intensively (see the photo above of some baby greens) is a great weed suppressor! In fact, in our 2000 sq foot kitchen garden, weeds are rarely a problem (knock on wood!) If I notice something sprouting up as I'm picking a salad for supper, I pluck it out immediately! Grassy weeds are my biggest problem in the veggies - but the fact that my hubby stands on the nearby lawn, tossing grass seed into the air to thicken up 'his lawn' might have something to do with it..

The best defense against persistent weeds in the garden or in the lawn is to keep your plants and grass healthy. Healthy plants will be able to outcompete weeds easier than those that have been weakened by drought, damage or disease. Be vigilant in the war against weeds by spending a few minutes each week removing any newly sprouted offenders. This will save you much future time and frustration and most importantly, your garden will thank you for it.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mother's Day Comes Early!

Mother's Day is just around the corner and my family knows that when it comes to gifts, I don't need any jewelry or an expensive dinner at a swanky restaurant! Instead, they always get me gifts that show just how much they love me - a load of mushroom compost perhaps, or several yards of aged manure.. the good stuff! Nothing says 'we appreciate you' like a nice big truck full of aged poop!

This year, my hubby and I are finally tackling some of the landscaping around the property. For the past few years, all our gardening efforts (and budget!) have gone to the 2000 sq foot kitchen garden. Now, we're finally going to 'pretty up' the property with some more perennial and shrub plantings - so exciting! Therefore, my 2010 Mother's Day gift will be arriving in just a few more days - 14 cubic yards of garden soil! That should be enough for a few little flower patches!?

Then, over the next month or so, I hope to fill up those new beds with an array of perennials - daylilies, ornamental grasses, coneflowers, hardy bamboo and so on.. I'm also happy to take suggestions for my zone 5b property!

As well, there is an awkward shaded slope beside our back deck that has been left untouched for several years. I plan on adding a few stone terraces and perhaps turning it into a hosta garden.. that may not sound too exciting, but my neighbour has a sizeable hosta garden and it's lovely to see them all planted together so that you can truly appreciate the range of foliage colours, sizes and shapes.

Happy Gardening!


Friday, April 16, 2010

An Unexpected Visitor


Spring may have arrived a whole month early this year, but that doesn't mean that Mother Nature doesn't still have a trick or two up her sleeve! Take this morning, for example. This is not what I expected to see when I looked out the window!

The garlic will shrug it off, but the small arugula seedlings might not be so accommodating! In reality, all the crops that are currently in the garden are cold tolerant, and I'm fairly sure they will be just fine - once the morning sun melts the snow. If I had known an overnight snowfall was in the forecast (the importance of checking the weather!), I would have tossed a row cover over the bed to insulate the crops.

You can see that I have placed some plastic strawberry and salad containers over some of the seedlings - I'm testing out their effectiveness as cloches. So far, I'm impressed. It's also a great way to get more use out of these containers before they're recycled. The seedlings under the cloches were completely undamaged and the soil was moist, but not frozen. I especially like the strawberry container as it has ready-made ventilation holes at the top! Just remember to bury the edges under the soil or lay a few rocks on top - otherwise, they will blow away in the slightest breeze!

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whenever the outside weather threatens to retreat back to winter, I just sneak down to the basement where several shelves of seedlings are happily growing under grow-lights, reminding me that spring has truly arrived!

Here are my artichoke seedlings - it's been about a month since I last posted their progress. I was a few weeks late in starting them, but they're growing like crazy now and the liquid fish food I gave them two days ago will also help push them along. Soon, it will be time to put them outside to give them a bit of a 'mini-winter'.. then, once the warm weather arrives, they'll think they're in their 2nd season and (hopefully) produce piles of tender artichokes! (I gave details on this sneaky trick in an earlier post..)

On another seed-related note, a few months ago, my mother-in-law, Noha requested some seeds - cotton seeds. When she was a young girl growing up in the mountains of Lebanon, her grandmother grew cotton inside the house. Noha remembers being spellbound by the puffy white balls on the end of the branches and she was hoping I could get some seeds for her. Well, I did and I kept a few for myself too - I'm hoping to grow it on our very hot and sunny deck - they kids are so excited! The seedlings are about 3 weeks old now and here is a photo that I took yesterday of the biggest one.

Now, I'm new to cotton, so if anyone has attempted this before, feel free to offer advice!

Soon it will be time to start the summer squash and cucumber seed indoors.. They typically need about a month of growth before transplanting to the garden. I plan on sowing those seeds this weekend, as well as planting another dozen or so things directly into the veggie patch.. Isn't this the best time of the year!

Happy Gardening!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Top Garden Blogs!

Woo hoo! I just cracked the top 20 garden blogs on Blotanical! (http://www.blotanical.com/php/display_visited.php) I joined just over a week ago and have discovered that it's a great place to lose a few hours.. so many great blogs, so little time!

It's fun to see what other gardeners are up to in their own gardens - from Maine to Japan.. all gardeners can relate through the simple act of tending a garden. Plus, there is just so much to learn!

Garden blogs are a great way to travel the world, while picking up a few garden tips along the way..

Happy Garden Blogging!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Jewels of Spring

Taking a brief break from the veggie patch, here are some of the incredible plants from a local garden that I visited this past weekend.. Donna and Duff's beautiful property was featured in the premiere issue of Gardens East magazine, which launched a few months ago and it is truly a four-season garden. Enjoy!





A Successful Seedy Saturday (say that 5 times fast - I dare you!)

Ah.. the sweet smell of seeds.. ok, perhaps seeds don't smell so great, but I'm still excited to find new types to grow! This past Saturday, I dragged the family (literally, dragged them!) to the Wolfville Farmers Market for Seedy Saturday and picked up some new veggies and flowers to try in the garden.

I also met up with Owen Bridge, the 17 year old owner of Annapolis Seeds (www.annapolisseeds.com) - see photos above.. Owen will be joining me on The Weekend Gardener radio show in early June (stay tuned for details in a few weeks) because he is just so darned interesting! Plus, he has a wonderful assortment of heirloom and unique seeds.. I picked up some Ethiopian Lentils and some Agate Soybeans from his booth - so exciting!

He also has a large selection of rare tomato seeds.. I would have bought more, but I already have 20 types under the grow-lights in my basement, so I had to restrain myself.. yes, it is possible!

If you missed this event, but still want to take part in a Seedy Saturday, there is another coming up in Halifax this Saturday. It takes place at the Captain William Spry Rec Centre on April 17th from 2 to 4:30 and is hosted by the Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield - for the 12th year! There will also be workshops and seeds galore!

Happy Gardening!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peas Please!

It's another gorgeous day out there today! Spring has come a whole month early this year and things are starting to grow like crazy - even the maples trees are in full bloom! My early garden sowings of arugula and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce are doing very well and I have since planted a handful of other veggies including, 3 types of radishes, mache, mesclun and baby spinach.

Now it's time to get the peas in the ground! I was waiting to see if the weather could turn cold again, but apparently, spring is here to stay.. so it's time to get planting!

Who doesn't love just-picked garden peas? They taste like spring - although I'm also partial to spring asparagus, but that's a story for another time - and of course it's always fun to compete with the kids to see who can find the biggest pod (generally not me!).

There are 3 main types of peas - shell, snap and sugar. Our favourite type is Super Sugar Snap - a vigorous variety that can grow over 6-feet tall and bears a heavy crop of large edible pods filled with sweet peas! It's early, quick growing and disease resistant, and most importantly in my (humble) opinion, it's one of the best tasting peas in cultivation!

To grow peas, all you need is a sunny spot with rich organic soil. To beef up your soil before planting, add a thick layer of compost or aged manure. Plant your peas about an inch deep and an inch apart. Add netting if they're a climbing type. Depending on the variety, you can be enjoying succulent peas in just 50 days! Super Sugar Snaps take about 64 days, but are worth the 2 month wait!

Happy Gardening!




Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Facebook

Ok.. I've been resisting for years, but I finally joined facebook.. And, I started a group - Vegetable Gardening Year Round! If you get a chance, check it out and feel free to join! I think it will be a great way to interact with year round veggie gardeners from around the world! When it comes to gardening, there is always so much to learn and it's wonderful to get advice from other gardeners..

Happy Gardening!


Seedy Saturday!

I'll be heading up to the Wolfville Farmer's Market this Saturday to take part in Seedy Saturday! It runs from 9 am to 1 pm and is located at Acadia University's Student Union Building on Highland Ave., in Wolfville.

There will be a seed exchange and trading table, as well as seed starting and seed saving workshops, free take-home tomato and pepper seedlings, kid's crafts, free seed catalogues and handouts and over 40 regular vendors! Did I mention the live music? Sounds fun, eh?

For more info on the event - and a map to the location - visit www.wolfvillefarmersmarket.com

See you there!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Coldframe!

Ah, the birthday present that every girl needs - a new coldframe! Except for a few final touches, the new cold frame is finished. It measures a generous 3-feet by 12-feet and will soon be joined by another (but smaller!) coldframe to supply a good portion of our winter veggies!

As you can tell from the photo, we haven't sunk it into the ground yet - I'm still digging! But once done, the bottom part of the frame will be buried about 6 to 8-inches in the ground, which offers some insulation and takes advantage of the earth's heat.

We used Lexan for the glazing. Lexan has a double wall and will offer more heat retention than a single sheet of plastic or a single paned window.

In a cold frame, you can grow a variety of winter crops - arugula, mache, spinach, green onions, leeks, carrots, parnsips and more! With some careful planning (which my book will make very clear) you can eat from your garden 12 months of the year!

Happy Gardening!

Slugs - Big, Bad and Slimy!

You know they’re out there. Perhaps they’re hiding under the wide, sheltering leaves of your hosta, or perhaps beneath that damp pile of leaves placed casually to the side of your garden. They may even be biding their time under a stray piece of wood until night falls and they slither out of their hiding places to start dining on your garden!

Over the years, I’ve heard hundreds of slug-based horror stories where entire gardens were completely defoliated in one night by hordes of slimy slugs. Although these stories may be slightly exaggerated, it is true that slugs do prefer to feed at night and they are at their peak in damp, cool weather – gee, have I just described a Maritime summer?

It may still be early spring, but the slugs are out! After our Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard this past weekend, we found about a dozen baby slugs that had crawled inside the holes in the plastic eggs looking for a chocolate treat! Yuck! (And for the record, the plastic eggs had only been outside for about a 1/2 hour, so those tiny slugs moved pretty quickly!)

Slug eggs are laid in masses and are deposited under leaves, garden debris or in the soil. In about a month, the eggs hatch and the young slugs, resembling the adults in all ways except for size, begin feeding.

Slugs will feed during the day, but only in damp, shady locations, as their trek through your garden is dependent on moisture availability. They move by gliding on a trail of secreted slime, and it is this silvery slime that is often one of the first clues in identifying a slug infestation.

Over the years, I have spent countless summer evenings sinking beer filled containers into the soft soil between the tomatoes. Of course, soon after the traps were placed, it would invariably rain. The beer would be quickly diluted by the water and run over the sides of the containers, rendering the traps useless.

Why are slugs attracted to beer? It is actually the fermenting yeast in exposed beer that tempts them, so for best results, open the beer several days prior to baiting the traps to allow it to ferment. To save some money (and the beer for yourself!), you can also use a spoonful of yeast in a container of water to lure slugs to their untimely demise!

One way to prevent rainwater dilution is to use an empty plastic 2-liter pop bottle. Fill it with enough beer or yeast water so that there will be at least an inch of liquid when it is placed on its side in the garden. Put the trap in a shady, damp location or nestle it near your besieged hostas. The little suckers should be attracted to the fermented yeast, slither in and drown.

Besides plying slugs with alcohol, there are several other natural solutions that seem to harbour some effectiveness. Copper wire is said to give slugs an electrical shock when they come in contact with it. For best results, place one-inch wide bands of copper wire around your hostas, vegetables or even individual garden beds.

Other homemade traps include a moistened folded newspaper, wide boards and flat rocks that may be placed in the vegetable garden, near perennials or even beside your compost pile. Check each morning and discard any discovered slugs.

Gritty materials such as diatomaceous earth, sharp sand and crushed eggshells may also be sprinkled around plants to deter slugs. Regular tilling in the vegetable garden will destroy slug eggs, which are often deposited beneath the soil surface. They look like tiny crystal balls and can easily be crushed with a gloved hand.

The best defense is a combination of the natural controls mentioned above and practicing good garden sanitation. By removing piles of leaves and other garden debris you will be eliminating many hiding places and breeding sites. Perhaps the slugs will get so fed up, they’ll pack their bags and slither on over to your neighbours garden and her prizewinning peppers!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Salad Garden


A salad garden is ideal for those gardeners who love instant results, as many salad greens are ready to eat in a short amount of time – sometimes in as little as a month! Quick maturing crops include arugula, baby leaf lettuce, radishes, mesclun mixes, baby carrots, spinach and swiss chard. Seed may be sown directly in the garden or planted in window boxes and containers if space is an issue.

You can even grow a salad garden in bags! Simply lay several bags of garden soil in the desired area and cut out a rectangle in the top of each, leaving the sides of the bag intact to hold in the soil. Poke some holes through the bags with a long screwdriver for drainage. Plant the seeds or transplants of your favourite crops – salad greens, radishes, baby or round carrots, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, bush cucumbers and more – grow what you love to eat!


Many leafy vegetables may also be planted in the garden now. As soon as spring arrives I plant an early crop of leaf lettuce, swiss chard, m√Ęche, arugula and baby spinach, assuming of course, that the garden isn’t covered with a thick layer of snow!

Lettuce has traditionally been the foundation of a salad and there is a vast array of vibrantly coloured and textured varieties of lettuce to add interest to your meals. There are four main types of lettuce – butterhead, crisphead, looseleaf and romaine. Certain types grow best in cool weather, while others are more heat tolerant and can be grown in the summer. Check your seed pack if you’re unsure what type you have.

Butterheads form loosely folded heads of tender leaves and are ideal for a fall or winter garden. Crisphead lettuce is the category that tasteless grocery store iceberg falls into, but don’t hold that against it, as there are types of crisphead, like Batavian varieties that are spectacular.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of looseleaf lettuce and grow at least a dozen different types throughout the year. I use them to edge my garden beds and pick the leaves when they’re still baby-sized, about 3 to 4 inches long. Romaine lettuce is another favourite and I also use them for baby green production.

Some interesting varieties of lettuces to try include Royal Oak Leaf which boasts deep green oak shaped leaves, Red Salad Bowl whose light red leaves deepen in colour with maturity, and the intensely curled bi-coloured Lollo Rossa. When combined, the rich colours and textures of these lettuces create a very attractive salad – almost too pretty to eat!

In recent years, mesclun mixes have become very popular items in seed catalogues, fancy restaurants and home gardens. Originating from the French-Italian border, mesclun is a mixture of different salad greens such as endive, chervil, arugula, lettuce, purslane, dandelion, mustard, cress and so on. Some mesclun mixes are tart and tangy, while others offer a milder flavour.

If you are short on available space or have no room for a big veggie garden, plant in containers or interplant in existing flowerbeds. Lettuce makes a very attractive, as well as edible, display when placed in front of a flowerbed as an edging or when interplanted with flowers as an accent. Easter Egg radishes, Rainbow carrots, and colourful Bright Light’s swiss chard can also be planted in a flower garden to add style and flavour.

Happy Gardening - and Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh Deer!

It's early morning as I write this and I'm sitting beside my big kitchen window.. Each morning, around this time, as I work and enjoy a nice hot tea, I can usually count on seeing at least three deer meandering around the fence of the veggie garden, looking for a little snack.

Deer are a very common complaint among gardeners, who know first-hand the destructive power a deer can inflict on a bean patch in just a few minutes. Or the tops of tomato plants. Or they will take a single bite out of every cucumber in the garden. Let's not forget the damage done by marauding hooves! Good times..

A dog is one of the more effective ways to deter deer from your property, but if you're dog-less like me, you'll need to come up with a few more tricks to keep deer away from your garden! I like to divide my anti-deer tactics into three categories - scare tactics, scent and taste tactics, and physical barriers.

Scare Tactics

Since deer are basically big cowards, scare tactics are quite effective in the short term (yup, i said short term). Their nervousness can work in favor of the gardener, but deer are very adaptable to their environment, especially the bold, urban deer (darn them!), so scare tactics don't often remain effective for long.

Common scare tactics include using sound, water or floodlights. Loud sounds, such as those from a radio will often scare deer temporarily, but I personally (and I expect my neighbours do too!) find it a bit annoying - especially at night! There are devices, that may be less offensive than a blaring radio, which emit a high pitched warning sound when activated by a motion sensor. I haven't personally tried this, but it does have potential.

Old fashioned scare tactics include tin cans hung on ropes, plastic shopping bags strung up around the garden or deer tape - a product that produces a loud vibrating noise in the wind. Yet, if deer are hungry enough, they will eventually brave such tactics for your precious pole beans!

A few other scare tactics include bright motion sensor floodlights or sprinklers. I have tested a common sprinkler called the Scarecrow and found it worked quite well to scare off the deer within reach of its hard jet of water.. Ideal for small gardens, but not as effective in large plantings.

Scent and Taste Tactics

These two strategies use products that manipulate the smell and taste of your garden. Some garden centers even stock such glamorous products as 'predator urine'. Yep, I'm serious, you can actually buy the urine of coyotes, wolves or bobcats! Apparently, if a deer gets a whiff of a predator in the vicinity - courtesy of its urine - they should take off in search of a safer food source. Although I'm sure these can be effective in an ornamental garden, I don't feel so good about spraying coyote urine around my salad greens..

Other, perhaps less noxious scent and taste tactics include using strong aromas such as sheets of fabric softener, human hair (apparently male hair is best!), bloodmeal (an organic nitrogen fertilizer), mothballs (not so organic), fragrant soap (Irish Spring has worked for me when shredded and hung in pantyhose - not pretty, but temporarily effective), or garlic oil. You must place these fragrant items close to the plants so that the deer get a whiff when they go in for a bite.

For taste tactics, many gardeners create their own anti-deer brew - often a concoction of rotten eggs, garlic, hot pepper sauce, cayenne powder and so on. I'd agree that it would taste foul and repel deer from hosta, but I don't want it anywhere near my lettuce! You could possible spray it around the perimeter of your veggie garden, but I'd be worried about drift from the spray landing on my veggies, as well as the nasty scent anytime I wanted to work in or enjoy the garden!

Physical Barriers

Ok, here we go, these are the MOST EFFECTIVE methods for protecting your plants from deer. In his wonderful book, The Truth About Organic Garden Remedies by Jeff Gillman (again, a brilliant book!) he compares all the different types of deer repelling tactics and found that the physical barriers are best - even a single 4-foot tall strand of electric wire around the perimeter of the garden was extremely effective.

For me, I've found that by using a 7-foot by 100-foot deer netting as a garden fence, it keeps the deer out (most of the time - they've gotten over twice, but that was my bad planning - see below). It's stapled to 8 foot long, 2-inch x 2-inch posts that are spaced about 6 to 8-feet apart all around the garden. At the entrance, the netting is looped over two screws to keep the door secure, but allow me easy access.

In the past, I have taken advantage of the vertical support of the fence and have allowed some of my large gourds to climb the fence.. bad idea! As they matured into huge Speckled Swan gourds, the netting was progressively pulled lower and lower.. until the deer could jump the now 5 1/2 foot height of the fence! Oops!

The most effective fence is at least 8 feet high, as deer can sometimes jump 7 feet.. Some fences are also angled away from the garden, creating a wide and tall barrier that deer will not attempt to jump. As mentioned above, some gardeners add an electric wire, but I haven't done this as it's just too tempting for curious hands of the kids..

I'd love to hear any of your suggestions, so please comment if you have found other easy ways to keep deer out!

Happy Gardening!