Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Darn Deer

They nipped off the tops, including the blossoms, of several of my tomato plants -- even the ones I have up against my house.

I'm feeling very Elmer Fudd right now. Braised venison tenderloin -- it's a good thing. Too bad I never picked up the family talent for hunting.

I used to know people -- sweetly naive back-to-the-landers -- who, when the whitetails ravaged their garden for the umpteenth time, walked out into the woods and had a chat with the deer. I'm not making this up. They'd read about kything, or communing with the animals, in a book. They formally addressed their hooved neighbors, something to the effect of, "We know you need to eat, but so do we. We depend on our garden. We know you have a lot of other food growing around here. So can you please leave our garden alone?" The deer's collective response was, "Love that salad bar! All you can eat! Whoo-hoo!" So my gentle acquaintances wound up buying an electric fence.

Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, wrote about the chewed quality of the world around us -- how, if you take a good look around you in a field or forest, it seems that everything has bites taken out of it. This is most certainly true. Ask my tomatoes.

13 comments:

bls said...

Same thing just happened to me, too. They even ate the tomatoes off the extra plants that weren't fenced in.

I've learned to deer-net everthing that's valuable, and then I just don't worry about the rest. I'm a little disappointed that I won't get any Early Girls this year, but not too.

Also, planting anything that smells is one way to keep them out of parts of the garden. They hate all the really aromatic stuff - oregano, basil, mint, catnip - and avoid those sections. That won't help for some things that are a lot taller, but it's worked for certain plants.

They don't touch hot peppers, either, BTW - not the leaves or the peppers themselves. ;-)

bls said...

(I still feel kind of sorry for them these days, since bit by bit their wooded areas - what few are left around here - are being chewed up by the bulldozer. So I'm not mad at them.

I do like venison, though....)

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

When I was growing up they were routinely compared with squirrels. They go after the crops, you shoot 'em. But they're tastier than squirrels...

Anonymous said...

We're suburbanites, and although we have seen deer as close as the park 3 blocks away, we've never seen them in our yard.
It's the rabbits here. Dang things ate all but two plants of my first crop of bush beans - before we discovered the hole in the fence.

-C

LutheranChik said...

Bls: I noticed they left my herbs alone. But -- one year they were going after my hostas, and I sprinkled the hostas with cayenne pepper...and the deer finished them off. ("Mmmm...Cajun flavored!") I guess it's deer netting for me...my neighbors up at the end of the cul-de-sac have most of their garden swathed in it.

The volatile but talented Chef Hermann, over on my list-o-links, makes a delish venison dish in his restaurant -- sauteed steaks with a morel mushroom, cream and lingonberry sauce.

Derek: Actually, I like squirrel too...better than rabbit, IMHO.;-) One of the regionally based food cooperatives that cooks for the Wheatland Music Festival published their own community cookbook a couple of years ago, and one of the entries is a recipe for squirrel stew. I love the way the recipe begins: "2 squirrels, without skins and guts."

J.C. Fisher said...

Oh, LC: so know what you're going through. :-/

I now have one cantaloupe (on one of the 2---out of 16---cantaloupe plants that survived Bambi & Mom) about the size of an oblong tennis ball (and feeling rather glad I don't have a Labrador right now, because I recall from my childhood, what happens to tennis ball-sized cantaloupes, when there's a Lab around! {They think "Look! A ball springing from the ground, just for me to play with---isn't the Dog-God wonderful???" *g*}). I've managed to keep it alive, only because my "pile garden chairs, loosely covered w/ garden hose, on top of the cantaloupe mounds" strategy. ;-p

I do hope I get to eat it, but it has a long to go, till sweet, sweet cantaloupe ripeness . . .

Deer: vermin w/ hooves! Loves me some venison. ;-/

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Wash Lady said...

I spent 2 years trying to have a chat with the deer here - they wouldn't listen. Now I speak to them through an 8 ft high electric fence that runs on solar power. They listen now. :) and our garden is gorgeous and bountiful

fausto said...

It's the squirrels and woodchucks I have to worry about in my tomato patch. To keep them away, I plant catnip. (When your garden becomes the neighborhood cats' crack house, the smaller critters learn to keep their distance.)

It's not that we don't have a few deer around, though. If my wife's perennial bed is any clue, what has been keeping the deer away from my tomatoes are her hostas.

So try planting some more hostas. It's a lot easier than planting a fence.

fausto said...

Just re-read bls's comment about aromatics herbs. That might be helping repel deer in my garden too. I have not only catnip, but also basil, mint, and lots of lemon balm.

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

The catnip's a great idea! Unless you mind your flower beds being used as litter boxes...

hamletta said...

Marigolds, baby. They smell like ass. You plant them near your tomatoes, and they scare off the nematodes, too. No need to buy bedding plants; they grow like crazy from seed in crappy soil.

I haven't had a garden in a while, but gawl-dang, I couldn't grow zucchini. Zucchini! The blossoms kept getting cut off by some kind of slug.

And what ticked me off was that they didn't even bother to eat the friggin' blossoms. Zucchini blossoms are really tasty. I had them on pizza once.

They weren't just vermin, they were wasteful vermin.