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PUTTING UP ROADBLOCKS
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To a “critter,” the entire universe is a salad bar. They don’t mind cutting in to the head of the line. They will eat the leaves, the buds, the luscious fruit, and if they get hungry enough, they’ll eat the entire tree. Generations of my family have had to deal with this problem, and we’ve come up with some pretty imaginative ways to handle it.
Deer are lazy and are always on the lookout for an easy meal. In early Spring when pickings are slim, they prowl flower gardens and other cultivated areas for tender tidbits. A lush garden is like rolling out the welcome mat.
Your property needs to be made inhospitable to wildlife. If you can make it so that it is too much effort, then your yard would be checked less frequently. Always keep in mind that you are dealing with garden ninjas who are used to evading detection while they steal their free lunch.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO DEAL WITH DANGEROUS WILDLIFE
DEER HATE CHOCOLATE
Deer love peanut butter, but they really despise chocolate! There’s just something about the smell of Cocoa Bean Mulch that puts them off.
The scent and taste of the Chocolate Scented Daisy (“Berlandiera Lyrata,” also known as the Chocolate Flower) has the same effect. Cocoa Bean Mulch also inhibits the growth of weeds if you spread it about 1 inch deep.
Tempted as I am to load up a homemade “Critter Gitter” concoction with cocoa powder or melted bar chocolate to ward off deer, I fear it might actually attract other animals that do not have this aversion to chocolate.
Some people sprinkle lots (and lots) of white or black pepper around an area and on leaves to ward off deer. This is an inexpensive method to try since these are prime ingredients in some “sneezing powder” products.
If the deer can’t smell adequately, then it can’t readily identify what they are biting into and just might go away.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOMEMADE “CRITTER GITTER” MIXTURES
WARDING OFF WILDLIFE
Consider choosing green or yellow varieties of apple and cherry trees since the fruit blends in with the leaves and seems to be less noticeable to animal predators. This does not hold true if the fruit has a fragrance that can be detected from a distance, such as peach or nectarine.
Grandma tied pie tins to the branches of cherry trees to scare off the birds.
An Air Horn works well on wildlife. Hold the screen door open with your foot, stick one arm out, and give the Air Horn a blast. This is much easier on you than chasing a deer halfway across the back yard, waving your arms, and shouting. Deer use my yard like a freeway. They always look so astonished when they see me, as though I’m the one who really shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately, deer like fruit as much as I do.
When you plant a cherry tree, for the first few years it is best to remove the ripening cherries. If you don’t, raccoons will try to climb the small, delicate tree to get at them and the branches will break. I had to dig up and dispose of an expensive young cherry tree that was broken beyond recognition by these heavy creatures.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO OUTWIT GARDEN PESTS
STRATEGIC PRUNING OF YOUR FRUIT TREE
I let the lower limbs of my fruit trees grow out. It will be hard to mow under them, but also makes it nearly impossible for deer to rub their antlers on the tree trunk, which is something that could kill the tree.
Why will deer leave the woods where there are plenty of trees and come clear up into my back yard to sharpen their antlers on my fruit trees? Wildlife don’t use much sense.
TALL GRASS MAKES FOR A SOFTER LANDING FOR FALLEN FRUIT
Let grass grow under the trees (but not up to the trunk) for a month or so before the fruit ripens. They will have a softer landing as they drop from the tree and be less likely to bruise. The bruised and imperfect fruit that falls to the ground can be sprayed with Hot Pepper Wax and left for the deer and raccoons.
RELATED ARTICLE: KEEP DEER FROM DAMAGING YOUR ORCHARD
DEER REPELLENT SPRAY
It is beneficial to spray a deer repellent tree spray on the limbs and trunk of a fruit tree while it is still too young to produce fruit, or during the winter months when pickings are getting slim for the deer.
Take care not to let it blow back on your face and glasses for it is impossible to clean off. I now wear protective eye goggles when I spray my fruit trees, which is much cheaper than replacing a pair of eyeglasses. Do not use this spray on or near the fruit while it is forming.
FRIGHTEN DEER AWAY WITH “STREAMERS”
I have been told that wrapping fruit trees with streamers of purple plastic will keep deer away.
When deer get alarmed, they turn and run with their white tails aloft. Some gardeners speculate that this is the signal to other deer that danger is near. White streamers attached to a fence that will blow up in the wind might resemble deer tails. With luck, this might make them run.
HAPPY PLANTING! Susan
For more in-depth information on GROWING YOUR OWN FRUIT