A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate


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Deer, Oh Dear

deer01-white-taileddeer-on_leaves2 muledeer22

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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Peas, Please

Since the jute string is hard to see, I have drawn a line underneath the string to make it easier to find.

I know that it’s a little late in the season to be talking about peas. It occured to me that maybe someone else might like to know about some of the pea culture ideas we have put into practice here in our garden. Since I’m a tall person and getting on in years I don’t like to bend down to do anything. That’s why I weed sitting on a step 2 garden scoot and sew peas onto a chicken wire fence.

Peas need to be planted as early in the spring as possible. We usually try to plant them on Good Friday. This year Good Friday was so early, March 21st, that the garden was still covered with snow so we had to wait until the ground thawed out to plant them. Peas like it cool and if it gets too hot for too long they will just turn yellow, stop producing and die.

There are three kinds of peas, snap or edible podded, snow or sugar peas and shelling. Snap or edible podded peas look like shelling peas when they are ripe, they are round and look full of peas. Snow peas are flat and should be picked then they are small to medium size and very flat. With both snow and sugar snap peas you eat the pod and all. Before cooking or eating raw it is a good idea to pull off the string, just grasp the stem end and pull down and it should come off easily. Shelling peas need to be removed from their pods before eating or processing. Shelling and snap or edible podded peas come in many varieties and are either short or tall. I prefer the tall variety because I don’t like to bend over to pick them, tall peas also don’t get dirty laying in the dirt.

We sew both the short and tall varieties of peas onto 48 inch high, 1 inch grid chicken wire fences when the peas begin to flower. We do this because when the pods mature the tendrils are not strong enough to hold the peas onto the fence because of the weight of the pods. We use a dowel with a rounded head and drill a hole large enough to thread jute twine through it. Jute twine last only one season which makes clean up easy next spring. I takes two people to sew the peas onto the fence, one on either side to pass the needle, the dowel, back and forth through the fence to secure the pea plants. The best and fastest way to do this is to sew one side then the other, skipping over some of the peas and picking them up on the next pass.