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Varmints in the garden

06/15/2013 in pests

When we aren’t able to fence the varmints out, we can try to discourage the animals by making our plants unpleasant to the taste.

For deer and rabbits, I generally get very good results with an egg mixture… mix an egg or two in a blender of water, use a water sprinkling can to apply).
Reading most ‘deer-away’ commercial ingredient lists usually turns up egg solids as the effective ingredient.

I make my own.

I use a fork to mix the eggs and water, but you can use a blender… if you are willing to clean up the mess afterwards…
Sprinkle the mixture over all the affected plants. Try to get all the leaves wet.

Unfortunately, some of the problem animals like eggs!


I caught this mouse in a squirrel cage, baited with carrots… Rats and mice will eat our plants, and they’re not gonna be bothered by eggs.

I’m getting some good results with datura and brugmansia.

teaI collect some leaves, stems, and/or roots, and cook up a nice herbal tea for the critters. after it cools, I’ll mix with some additional water… 1:1 and treat the plants that are being consumed.

It’s on you whether you chose to apply this solution to the vegetable garden.
Some people are terrified of the daturas/brugmansias.
They talk about the potential for the vegetables to absorb the toxins, as some studies seem to suggest about the insecticides and herbicides.
If you already use chemicals in your garden, you are unlikely to be concerned about this far-fetched possibility.

To all the organic people, datura and brugmansia are organic, and in my experience, they wash off with the first rain, and the critters begin eating those treated plants immediately.

These sweet potato plants were immediately set upon the day after the rain.


Tender-hearted gardeners aren’t making friends with catch and release.
With a very few exceptions, catch and release is a bad idea.
If you don’t want the varmint at your house, I certainly don’t want it at mine.

I’ve heard people claim that nobody lives anywhere near where they dump their catches.
They really don’t know that… and,  could be disrupting the balance of the critters that live there with all that dumping.

Those new critters are going to be in competition with the critters that are already there, for available food resources.

It’s often a death sentence for those dumped critters…  a slow death… of starvation.


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Gardening with Deer

03/10/2012 in gardening, pests

The perennial question of what to do about the deer, is one I often see posted and reposted at help forums.

I wrote up a page about deer-proof gardening a number of years ago, it may be time to revisit the concept.

The Problem

Deer make gardening difficult, they get over their fears of us rapidly. It can seem like they move into the garden, and forget to leave…

When they nibble the pretties, it may kill them.

trilliumThe trilliums are just emerging from dormancy, and the deer have already mowed them down at one of my gardens! These jewels are planted against the foundation of the house!

While there are a lot of products marketed to deter deer, the need to apply early and often can make this prospect tedious….
Some of those products stink, and can make visiting the garden unpleasant.


fencePutting up little fences everywhere can protect individual clumps of plants…

if the home-owner can stand to live with these little pens…

Inedible Plants for the Shade Garden

It might be easier simply to plant stuff that the deer absolutely will not eat…
aconite Aconitum comes to mind… This pretty flower is said to be so poisonous that we are advised to wear gloves when we set out the plants!
There’s a story about high-ranking members of the church coming to dine (some time ago), and when the kitchen help went out to pull horse radish, they accidentally pulled some aconitum instead… oops!
Nobody is going to have problems with the deer grazing on something known as one of the most deadly plants grown in the garden…

dw1 Hellebore are toxic and are a great option for the deer-prone garden. I post a lot of hellebore posts, as hellebore are winter bloomers, and anything that will bloom in the winter deserves a place in my garden to combat the winter blues.

mayapple-bloom May apple also comes to mind, often referred to as American Mandrake…

Mandrake conjures up great memories from the fantasy stories we’ve all read, where a dog is employed to pull the plant out of the ground…. While the fruit can be eaten, the American Natives were said to have respected Mayapples as a vehicle into the next lifetime. Definitely a plant that shouldn’t be bothered by the deer!

foxglove1Consider foxglove, a popular heart medication, foxglove would be dangerous for us to attempt eating, the deer can be reliably expected to completely avoid this medicinal…

Inedible Plants for the Meadow

Moving out of the shade garden, consider the castor bean…
It’s been a few years since I’ve grown this delight, but it is definitely safe from the ravages of garden pests… I wrote extensively about castor beans on the garden video post, when a v-blogger made a mistake in discussing their edibility. Definitely not edible… I used to use the beans to protect my other seeds from rat predation.

brugmansia Brugmansias and daturas are great plants for the garden… they produce incredible displays of blooms, and are pest proof. The deer will not eat these guys.
Now… there may be a minor problem with the neighbor kids, looking for kicks, but these plants really aren’t worth all the brouhaha…. it’s not going to be a pleasant experience for them, and if all the over-reactions of the media were to stop, there’d be a lot less experimentation with stuff that isn’t pleasurable.

poppies The poppy is left alone by the deer.
They can’t afford to have their minds clouded by the plants found in the medicinal garden.
A drunk deer would be easy prey…

ginger-lilyCannas and Ginger are a couple of tropical looking showy plants that the deer seem to avoid.
I don’t know why this is…
Neither is known to be poisonous, I found several sites that claim that cannas are non toxic to pets.

Plant Delights goes further, claiming that canna roots are a human food source!

So… Why don’t the deer eat cannas?

They may eat them in your garden… Deer are notorious for suddenly deciding to eat flowers they’d previously avoided.

Sometimes, we plant the garden, and the deer eat the plants that come with a guarantee of being deer-proof.
When growing a non-toxic garden, these things happen.

I can’t begin to tell you how many supposed deer “resistant” plants that the deer are partial to in my garden.

I’ve seen butterfly weed and echinacea suggested as deer “resistant” on lists of plants recommended for deer problem gardens, the Georgia deer love them.

The aromatics, like monarda are almost deer-proof…
I’ve seen incidents of the deer eating them in spite of the smell.

They don’t eat them to the ground like the main menu items, but I’ve seen it happen.

hawt-lipz1Usually, deer avoid salvia. Salvia are beautiful plants with a strong odor.

I have a garden where the deer have decided they enjoy a bit of salvia with the rest of their salad.

Another almost deer-proof item is lantanna.
I’ve seen them browse it on occasion.
But not that much.
I consider these aromatics very good items for the deer prone garden in spite of the occasional browsing in the rare yard.

I believe that deer can be encouraged to leave the ornamental garden alone, but it’s going to take a heavy handed approach, weeding out those favourite plants that the deer perfer, like the hosta…

Deer-proof Gardening Ideas

I suspect an effort should be made to collect the plants that a monk might have grown in his medicinal garden, or a wizard might have grown in his magical garden.

I read a lot of fantasy, and I’m always drawn to the passages wherein the witch or warlock collects the plants that go into the spells… this makes a magical deer-proof garden grow in appeal.

I’ve seem some forum posts devoted to fairy gardens, and while a lot of space seems to be devoted to the little houses and other art, there’s some great plants that would be very much appropriate to such gardens.

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