If you plant it…

“If you plant it, they will come.”

I swear that’s what I heard one afternoon early last month while turning over another shovelful of soil in one of my ten garden beds.

Did you catch that phrase? Another shovelful of soil.

I’ve been gardening long enough to know the difference between soil and dirt.

Soil is energized with compost and other nutrients, and just waiting to provide the boost seeds and seedlings require to turn an empty space into a bountiful harvest of vegetables and flowers.

Dirt, on the other hand, is, well, just dirt. It’s emaciated soil.

“If you plant it, they will come.”

I scanned the backyard. There was just a blue jay perched on top of the swing set and a bee happily buzzing in the raspberry bushes. Neither of them is conversant in the English language, so I was sure they weren’t talking to me.

“If you plant it, they will come.”

“Okay, that’s enough!” I muttered. “I don’t know whose talking to me, but that’s enough! I’m not Ray Kinsella!” (Think Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”)

Suddenly it clicked, and it didn’t matter if anyone was really talking to me.

I understood.

If I plant practically anything, eventually they will show up. ‘They’ are the deer known for having a hunger for squash blossoms and peas and green beans and whatever else looks tasty during their nightly garden-smorgasbord grazing.

How do I stop them?

How can I stop them?

For the last two or three springs, I’ve thought about planting a secondary garden at the far end of my yard and posting a sign that reads “Free Food For My Four-Legged, Furry Friends”. And the fine print reads “Please Leave My Garden Alone. Thank You Very Much”.

But the deer can’t read, so that garden would just become the first course in another night of all-you-can-eat dining.

So I repeat: How can I stop them?

If I had a traditional square- or rectangular-shaped garden the solution would be simple. Put up a fence. A tall fence. A really tall fence.

But that’s not what my wife and I designed. We have raised garden beds roughly in the shape of a backwards 7 separated from two sides of our patio by a four-foot strip of grass.

The raised beds look nice and they produces plenty of veggies … but the configuration means they’re indefensible and unfence-able.

We’ve tried practically everything to keep the deer at bay, from hanging shiny CDs on fishing line to spraying a mixture containing coyote urine on the plants.

Seriously, how do you collect coyote urine? And even more seriously, who would want that job?

Maybe I should just hire a couple coyotes to guard my garden. They’re not vegetarians, right?

That sounds a bit too dangerous; I’m thinking it would be safer to go with Santa Claus.

Not the real Santa, obviously, but one of those motion-activated Santas that starts twisting and singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” whenever a human or critter steps too close.

I’ve seen those Santa contraptions scare little children, so I’m convinced that a platoon of them will spook the deer and send them scurrying back into the forest where they belong.

At least that’s what I hope …

P.S.: If you’ve had success keeping deer out of your garden, I’d like to hear how you did it. Send your tips to tschultz@timesobserver.com.