A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate


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Deer, Oh Dear

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Deer, the gardeners nemesis.  It’s not easy doing battle with Bambi, it takes an arsenal of products to keep them at bay.  I’ve tried motion detection devices, dogs,  animal blood products, garlic, Irish spring soap placed in old socks and hung from my apple trees and fences. They are always testing your defences to see if they can find a weak spot to exploit.

The ultimate defence is a well-trained, unleashed dog that stays out at night during the spring, summer and fall. Unfortunately, a dog can only be used by gardeners living in rural areas or who have invisible fencing.

The second best defence is a motion detection device that makes noise  and has a flashing light.  The problem with them is that they can be expensive and can only protect 15- 30 feet of circumference, can be difficult to mount and move around.  Check out the Yard Control, electronic fence and the Yard Gard electronic pest repeller. I kept a black bear from returning to my chicken coop with it one these devices last  spring. There is also a water spraying device that you can hook up to a garden hose that will spray water and frighten animals away.  This seems to work best for a small garden.

Third is good old garlic, Deer can’t stand the smell of it.  You can make a liquid solution in a blender and spray your garden or plants that the deer are eating with it, however, you have to  spray after each rain.  We have three large garden  beds so that is not practical for us.  Instead, we plant garlic cloves among our seeds and vegetable plants and let them grow there all  season.  The following spring we dig up the garlic bulbs and replant them were needed. You can also get garlic clips from Gardener’s Supply Co.  They look like fat ball point pens with clips on them that you can clip on to tree branches, wire fence, and plants.  I use them and feel they are very effective.

The only way I could keep the deer from browsing on my newly planted apple trees was to build a fence around it using 52 inch high, 1 inch chicken wire and medal post with barbed wire all around the top.  You have to make sure you can open the enclosure so you can get in to prune and take care of your tree.  If you want to fence in larger areas, you will have to use 7 foot high deer fencing.  Deer fence is not always successful and can be very expensive.

I was not impressed with animal blood.  It’s messy to mix and has to be sprayed again after every rain.  I have some animal blood left over and I’m going to spread it dry around the outside of the garden to see if it keeps the deer away.

Irish Spring bar soap cut into quarters and put into old socks and hung from trees in order to keep the deer from browsing on them worked OK. You need to hang them close together, they detract from the trees appearance  and cause the limbs to bend and get in the way when mowing the grass.  Shaved into small pieces and spread around the garden didn’t seem to work for me at all.  Some gardeners swear by it though.

This spring I’m going to give coyote urine a try on the blueberry patch. I’ll let you know how it does.  It can also be hung from trees to keep deer away from your fruit trees.

For catalogs that sell deer deterrents see the post Catalogs That Sell What You Need To Work Your Garden And Keep Your Greenhouse Growing. Gardeners Supply Co. and Gardens Alive, each have a large selection of deer and other animal deterrents.

To keep deer at bay you really need to use as many different types of deterrents at the same time as you can.  If you find any really good ways to keep deer away please let me know.

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Garlic

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Drying Garlic                                                                         Planting garlic

There are many types of soft neck and hard neck garlic and they also have different flavors. You can order garlic cloves from seed catalogs.  ( see the post “Ordering Seeds It’s A Joint Adventure,”) never use the garlic you get in grocery stores.  Just like every thing else garlic is rated for different climate zones.  Only order garlic cloves rated for zone 3-4.  It seem that the only garlic that is rated for zone 3-4  are the hard neck types.

Garlic can be planted anytime between late August and October.  After you harvest your garlic you can set some aside to plant.   It usually takes about a year for garlic to mature into large bulbs, so plant accordingly. Before planting you must separate the cloves from the bulbs. Break the paper between cloves with a knife if you have to and then separate the cloves from the bulb.  They should be planted about 4 inches apart. (see above picture) After  planting the cloves will start to grow, sending up green shoots almost immediately.  They will stay green all winter even under the snow but will stop growing when the ground freezes.

Next summer they will produce flower spikes called scapes,  you must remove them before they flower.  Go along the row and grab them by the stalk and tug, they will come right out.  Scapes can be used raw in salads or cooked with swiss chard for example.
As soon as the tops start to turn brown they should be dug up and processed for drying.  If you wait to long the bulbs will split and they will not keep as long.  We usually wash the bulbs, with stalks still attached, then we cut off the stalks with pruning shears to about 1 to 2 inches above the bulb.  Then they are set out to dry in our greenhouse or in some warm dry place, like a sunny porch.  They should dry for a week or two. (see above picture) After drying garlic should be stored in a cool dark place, I keep mine at the top of the stairs to my cellar.  I have a real cellar with a dirt floor.  Yours would probably keep well in a cool dark closet in your basement.  I hang the bulbs in orange bags.  I save the net bags oranges come in during the winter and use them to store garlic.  They will keep a long time but won’t last until next summer.