Bambi’s getting hungry

                This post is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

  

   Their soft and silky fur resembles sable.  Their eyes are large and soft.  They leap as gracefully as ballerinas across the fence heading toward open water in the Cedar.  Nine of them crossed the pasture just now.  It’s likely a mixture of fawns—anterless bucks and young and mature does.  What a splendid image they present with the snow glistening in the sun this morning.  That’s easy for me to say now:  my opinion will change this summer when the zero scaping in my road ditch has nubbins for hostas because those deer chose to stop for a tasty snack.  Try as we might to curtail it, the increasing deer population continues to invade our rural and urban landscapes.

   Master Gardener, Darrell Hennessey, has this to say in answer to a recent Master Gardener Horticulture line (319-447-0647) question:  “The deer seem unusually hungry this year.  How can I keep them from eating my shrubbery?”

   Few gardening problems occur more regularly and result in more frustration than damage to plants and landscape from browsing, hungry deer.  Our efforts to contain the deer population within bounds are insufficient to insure an adequate food supply without Bambi regularly invading rural and urban lawns and landscapes.

   Some plants are less inviting to deer than others.  However, when deer are sufficiently hungry, they won’t hesitate to forage from barberry, buckthorn, red cedar, Russian olive, honeysuckle and balsam fir.  There’s not likely a lot one can do with existing damage; trim up the wound and try to avoid further injury.

   There are a number of repellents that meet with varying degrees of success:  these range from putrescence of egg solids (Big Game Repellent and Deer Away), ammonium soap of fatty acids (Hinder), bone tar oil (Magic Circle Deer Repellent) and thiram fungicide to the use of aromatic soap bars (with the wrapper left in place), human hair, blood meal, tankage from animal rendering.  The reference  cited below notes that Deer Away lasts twice as long as other repellents because rain and snow do not wash it off.

   Everyone seems to agree that the only really reliable solution to excluding deer remains the construction of an eight foot tall fence.  For most of us, this is usually impractical and construction of a temporary barrier using snow fence around high value plants might suffice since deer usually avoid small, penned-in areas.

   Reference:   http://www.extension,iastate.edu/acreage/AL1999/aloct99.html

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