Posts tagged deer

The deadly juglone of black walnut trees

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The seeder wagon is in place.  The lawn mower towed it out of the shed down to the water way and then with two planks and my favorite son’s strong back we pushed and pulled it to the other side of the ditch.  With the addition of an old wire garden gate staked behind a sapling, a hand pump from my parent’s former home and a rock lined pseudo fire pit filled with Petunias that were on the end-of-season sale, the area reflects the peaceful primitive atmosphere I was striving for.  This is the area I mentioned in an earlier blog that became inaccessible to mow due to last year’s flood.  Hosta, native grasses and prairie perennials will grace the space next year.  We continued our zeroscaping to include a part of the road ditch that I learned is also impossible to mow after the mower and I suffered a close encounter with the culvert.  Now that waterway is filled with large rocks and what was a sloping grassy space is mulched. 

            Hosta will ring the two Black Walnut trees in the roadway ditch.  Hosta is a plant of choice there because I have some that need transplanting and they are not sensitive to Juglone, a chemical secretion from Black Walnut Trees. 

             Discovered in the 1880s, Juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves, branches and root system of several trees with Black Walnuts exhibiting the highest concentration.  The greatest intensity in the soil exists within the tree’s drip line, on an average 50 ft. radius from the trunk of a mature tree.  Plants susceptible to Juglone display yellowing leaves, wilting and eventual death.  Plants sensitive to Juglone include Peonies, Hydrangea, Asian Lilies, and Lilacs.  There are multiple choices that will withstand close proximity to Walnut trees such as most grasses, Phlox, Sedum, Daylilies, Iris and Hosta.

            Now my challenge is to determine plants that are not only resistant to Juglone, but also to the deer population in this neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Hosta is one of the critters’ favorite choices.  They have already decimated the Hosta and Bee Balm in the ditch on the other side of the lane.  A great winter  pastime will be comparison shopping perennials and grasses that are both deer and Juglone resistant as well as low maintenance for those landscapes. 

             I actually enjoy mowing.  And I like the challenge of creating and maintaining flower beds, but the  simple clean lines of zeroscaping does appeal to me.  A few plants and shrubs easily embellish the area without overstating the purpose of low maintenance.

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Critters in the garden

Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, wrote the following: The driver of the car at the stop light next to me looked rather aghast when I broke into a hearty laugh this morning.  I guess some radio and TV facts are just meant to be light hearted even though reported in a most serious manner, for example, the obnoxious little black flies that are so prevalent this spring are called buffalo gnats.  Do you know why?   Because they have a hump in their back.  With no disrespect intended to those folks who study insects, that “need-to-know” fact really struck my funny bone.

Not so funny is in the onslaught of beetles again this year.  Just a reminder, do not spray edible plants to rid the beetles.  Traps seem fairly effective.  The traps do attract the little critters in addition to killing them so it is suggested you locate traps at the ends of your property.

The ugly tunnels in your lawn are probably mole trails.  Another little known fact is that moles eat more than their own weight in worms daily.  Worms are good for the soil.  They constantly aerate the earth.  Keep the worms; eradicate the moles.  The most practical method of eviction is a scissor or harpoon type trap.  Locate the active tunnel by tamping down all of the tunnels.   Place the trap in the one the mole reopens. 

And then there are the garden invaders, the ground hogs, rabbits and raccoons.  Probably the best offense against them is a good fence. Hardware cloth or wire mesh should be at least 1½ to 2 ft. tall supported with wood or metal stakes.   Bury the fence into the ground a bit or secure it down with landscape pins.  Repellents are somewhat effective, but more costly as they need to be reapplied after each heavy rain. You could consider live traps, but the last time we tried live traps, an opossum was smarter than we were. We did capture two cats, though. 

And, finally, Oh! Deer!  It is best to discourage deer before they become accustomed to the delicacies in your garden or yard.  The most reliable deer prevention maintenance is a fence.  However, a deer proof fence will be at least eight feet tall which can be a costly venture, be aesthetically unattractive, and possible prohibited by local building codes.  Repellents and scare tactics are ineffective as deer ignore them.  Try temporary fences around new plants and special plants.  Deer may force you to choose plants that are less tasty to them, have an unusual texture, or a strong aroma.  Call your local extension office (in Linn County 447-0647) for a list of deer resistant plants.  Perhaps impractical in some cases, a good dog will be as efficient as anything else you might try.

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Tulip Queen

  

Dorothy Hingtgen and her tulip beds in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dorothy Hingtgen and her tulip beds in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Cindy Hadish photo)

 The three things tulips don’t like are hot weather, hard, sideways wind and hail, according to “tulip lady” Dorothy Hingtgen, who lives in northeast Cedar Rapids.

    I had a fun time interviewing this witty woman for a story for the Sunday, May 10, Gazette. Dorothy digs up more than 300 tulip bulbs every year with her husband, Dan, and is as much of an expert as I’ve met on tulips. So I felt a boost when I told her about my favorite Greenland tulips, a gorgeous pink flower brushed with green. They were beautiful the first year I planted them, but didn’t return the second. I tried again, and once more, exquisite blooms, followed by nothing the next year. Greenlands are labeled for zones 3-8, so they should be fine in Iowa, but the same results  happened for Dorothy with those bulbs. I might take her advice and try something orange this fall, which she describes as the most reliable tulips.

Grand Duke tulips

Grand Duke tulips

     A tip for homeowners with voracious deer: Dorothy uses Milorganite, an organic fertilizer. She says the smell deters deer. Further deer advice can be seen in one bed to the side of her yard that didn’t have any tulips, but was filled with bright daffodils. Deer leave daffodils alone, she noted.

Gazette photographer Liz Martin shooting at Dorothy Hingtgen's home.

Gazette photographer Liz Martin shooting at Dorothy Hingtgen's home. (Cindy Hadish photo)

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“Few enemies”

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

The critters sense that the weather outside will be—already is—frightful.  I almost need traffic signals and turn lanes in my yard and driveway where the squirrels are frantically harvesting nuts from the walnut trees.  Canadian geese have noisily moved in mass overhead traveling south.    I’ve not had feedback from the deer, but they must have felt the hosta in my xeriscape was especially tasty as they have, again, totally decimated all of them as they prepare for winter snow cover. 

 You see, we live in the country and our road ditch is steep, difficult to weed whip and impossible to mow.  We created an attractive xeriscape using mulch to cover grass and weeds and rock to stop an area of erosion, then added a few perennials for interest.  Maintenance has been minimal.  This spring we plan to xeriscape a smaller area on the other side of the lane.  An article in a recent Master Gardener’s newsletter sparked my interest in perennial ornamental grasses. Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch says ornamental grasses have few enemies. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, even insects seem to not be interested in them.   Becki describes the grasses as “beautiful, regal, feather topped, silver sheened, golden stemmed, ten feet tall, back-lit by the sun and swaying in gentle breezes.”  After established, ornamental grasses are drought resistant.  You can fertilize them—or not.  They do like mulch.  And, ornamental grasses come in a multitude of heights, shapes and textures. Ornamental grasses sound like a plan to me. What do you think?  Oh, when, oh when will seed catalogs start to arrive?

Even if we can’t work outside in Iowa’s winters, we can still enjoy gardening by listening to someone from the Master Gardener’s Speaker’s Bureau.  A colorful and educational presentation on any number of gardening topics is available for your group or organization.  Contact the Linn County Extension Office at 319-377-9839 for a brochure reflecting the range of speakers’ experience.

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October advice

    Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith submitted the following:

 

My 2008 Iowa State University Extension Service Garden Calendar—a plethora of recommendations and advice each month –suggests an October visit to a pumpkin patch for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern candidate.  My favorite daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter have enjoyed this family tradition for several years.   Now 7-year-old Catie has managed a larger specimen every year.   This year, 2-year-old Charlie will say “Me Too, Mommy” as he stubbornly grapples with as much pumpkin as he can manage to drag out of the patch.  Girly-girl Catie enjoys decorating, but not cleaning out the “innards”.  I’d bet my All-Boy Charlie will love every minute of the mess!   No kids at home?  No Grandkids around?  Go ahead!  Be a kid again, go visit a Pumpkin farm soon. 

                Other suggestions from the calendar for October are:

                                Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing

                                Apply fertilizer to the lawn, but not to perennials or trees

                                Compost fall leaves

                                Plant spring flowering bulbs.

 

                                On that last note, here are some recommendations for brightening your days next spring:  Bulbs are usually inexpensive.

Follow the directions on the packages.

               

    Plant in mass:  four large and nine small bulbs per square foot.  The smaller the bulb, the larger the grouping should be. 

    Generally, bulbs should be planted at a depth of two to three times the height of the bulb.

   Place the bulb “tip” side up (that’s not the root side).  If in doubt, place the bulb on its side!

   Plant in well draining soil.

   Chicken wire placed under, around and on top of bulbs deter rodents. 

Water the area thoroughly and apply about 2” of mulch after the first frost. 

Apply fertilizer three times per year:  in the fall for the roots, in the spring when the sprouts first poke through and then when the flower dies.

   Deer tend to avoid daffodils, alliums, and snowdrops. 

Tulips and crocus seem to be the bulbs-of-choice.

               

So, after you’ve been to the pumpkin patch, go visit your favorite garden shop and get to planting. 

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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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