Deer prove to be resourceful

This year was another interesting year in my garden and around my landscape. I consider myself a sort of “old dog” who can sometimes learn a few new tricks.

I complained that the elephant ears I planted last year did not get very big leaves. A friend told me to plant them early in April and keep the planter in the garage until there is no chance of frost. I took his advice, and the result was bigger leaves.

I live near an agricultural area that has shelter and feed for a herd of deer. Thus, my raised bed garden is surrounded by a three-wire fence 5 feet tall. Yes, the gates are shut each night.

I planted my early crops of lettuce and spinach. A few weeks later, I was surprised to see something with small hooves had climbed up on top of my raised beds to stage a little dance. I have found in the spring that you must tighten the strands of wire to prevent any droop or the fawns can wiggle through and sample all your fresh lettuce sprouts.

The spacing of garden plants must be taken seriously. You should check the label information before planting. Many gardeners, including myself, live to regret not following this prudent advice. I purchased 50-inch-by-16-inch cattle panels to make a fence around my pumpkin patch. I did this because last year I planted pumpkins and I learned the deer thought they were tasty treats.

When constructed, the fence looked so good, I thought it would be nice to plant just a few pole beans around the outside edge. Well, the conditions were perfect and both plant types love to grow together. They grew so well together in fact that I had a virtual 6-foot-high jungle in my backyard. This resulted in bean picking difficulties because the pumpkins loved the fence, too. Yes, you can grow jack-o’-lanterns on a fence!

I ended up putting buckets and chairs under them as they grew.

My choice for pole beans this year was the rattlesnake variety. They produced a good yield and were very tasty. I usually plant beans at the base of a fence or trellis and they grow up to 7 feet high. Rattlesnake beans have a coloring that resembles a military digital pattern of camouflage, so as you guessed, it was difficult to see all those beans hanging on the fence. I picked up and back and always seemed to miss some.

My grapes produced well this year on my upgraded trellis. However, the deer did eat a lot of the tender shoots and a few actual grapes to test them for peak ripeness. I tried to get a bunch or two to enjoy their great flavor. However, the deer ate the ones they could reach and then told the birds they could have the remainder.

I am investing in netting to cover the area next year because my family would love to eat grapes too.

I am glad that as a Master Gardener Volunteer I can find the many resources available to help me maximize the crop yields and minimize the amount of work I have to perform in my garden. For a general best management practices guide, go to http://go.osu.edu/gardenbmp.

If you are interested in joining us in the program, go to http:/go.osu.edu/gardenvolunteer.

Eister is an Ohio State University Mahoning County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.


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