Dale Pierson, Martinsville: In my vegetable, berry and small fruit areas, I use row covers when plants are young so I can get easy access during the most critical time and can do later seedings. Deer rarely bother them when covered.
As the plants grow larger and most of my cultivating/weeding has lessened, I remove the row covers as the plants need the light and many row crops can not stand the extra pressure from wet fabric and may get squashed or diseases can get a start in our moist climate. I have then used a deer fence (netting) rolled over the rows of susceptible plants, so I can still unroll and do some work on the areas under cover. This works to some degree but if the deer are extra hungry or the crop is one of their favorites, they will push the fence down and eat what is accessible or what grows up through the mesh.
I have used pepper and repellents sprayed at intervals. They are expensive and do have to be reapplied after rain or as new foliage grows. I have tried other repellents that you place in the garden area but they too seem to fade quickly.
Last fall I drove some stainless pipe into my rocky soil and capped them for the winter. This spring I am going to insert fiberglass stakes into the pipe and then hang deer fence 7.5’ tall all around the garden as soon as my early spring planting and tractor work is done. This means more hand work after the fence goes in but I hope the fence will work. I will remove the fence each fall as I do not like the look of a sagging black fence all year. I will still use row covers when I need to as this helps with insect issues also.
In tree and shrub areas, I wrap my fruit trees and our favorites with deer fence for the late fall thru late spring to keep the deer from browsing during bud set, over winter and bud break. After bud break there is usually enough other food for them not to be so problematic.
A pellet gun does make them nervous if they are in the yard during daylight but their favorite feeding time is after dark.
Music I have not tried or sensing lights as I do not want to interrupt our sleep with sporadic sounds and flashes, as my bedroom looks right over the garden area.
I probably should have spent a lot of money at the beginning of developing our gardens and fenced the whole place but that seemed like overkill at the time.
I believe since it is not likely that the deer pressure is going to be reduced, our community is going to have to come up with a town-wide approach to reduce the deer population to a more reasonable population if we are not going to have our yards look like prisons with high wire year round.
That is enough before I wonder why I have a garden and landscape at all.
Chris Bly, Turkey Cove: I run an extension cord out to the garden. I mount a motion detector socket on a post or wall—something that gives it a better view. Instead of screwing in a light bulb to the detector, I screw in an electrical plug socket. I got both of these at Lowes. I got an old blender at Lisa’s at the Transfer Station and plugged it into the motion detector. So at night when the deer come wandering in, the blender turns on and they run away. The tricky part is protecting the blender from rain. It needs to be under a plastic bucket or something. Also there is a timer on the motion detector for one, three, or 10 minutes. I use three minutes, but one minute might do. Sometimes the wind sets it off. Hopefully it’s not right outside your bedroom window.
Bethany Yovino, Wallston: My veggie garden has fencing around it. We put up an inexpensive fence of that wire coated green stuff with metal stakes. It’s only five feet tall, but the deer have not jumped it yet. I also use a product called Bobbex deer repellent around the other garden spaces in my yard. It works well if you remember to reapply! And one more thing—we have DOGS, lots of dogs! We recommend that every household should have multiple dogs to keep the deer away.
Suzanne Hoyt, Clark Island: I’ve gone with fencing to keep out deer as nothing else I’ve tried, including all the ones mentioned in March’s “Kitchen garden talk” column, have worked.
On another topic, I found the column on sourcing seeds very informative. I still buy from Johnny’s, although I’ve moved toward FEDCO recently and was happy to see them on the list that DID NOT support Monsanto.