Readers respond

It was a simple question, casting for a solution to a difficult problem.

How can I keep deer out of my vegetable and flower gardens?

Thankfully, readers responded with a myriad of suggestions. Some were innovative, many were inexpensive, a couple were billed as foul-smelling but effective, and only one was illegal.

I’ll probably try them all, except the illegal one since I live within the city limits of Warren and discharging firearms is frowned upon.

Here’s a sampling of suggestions I received:

Trudy Bull was enthusiastic about the solar lights she has strategically placed in her garden and relatives’ gardens. The key is the lights change colors. “The lights fade in and out in blue, green and red,” she wrote. “I read that deer are skittish of blue and green lights. I will occasionally move a light, but for the most part they are just out there.”

So how does her garden grow?

“I have strawberries this year!,” she wrote. “The deer will come down and strip the leaves as fast as they grow not this year!”

And raspberries … and clematis … and beans … and the deer’s favorite, lilies.

Trudy, and several others who responded to my question, said deer view the buds of lilies as candy. I’ll agree that the deer obviously have a sweet tooth because our lilies never get beyond the bud stage.

While Trudy sounded confident about the solar lights’ ability to keep the deer at bay, she knows it may not last if the deer ever ‘man up’ and aren’t spooked by the changing colors or adjust their dining schedule. “We find it hard to believe the deer have changed their habit that suddenly,” she wrote. “The deer are still here, we are seeing them every night in the fields around us. Makes me nervous, wondering if they will come down during these long days of summer while it is still light.”

LaVonne Pelisari sent me the recipe for a concoction she swears will keep the deer out of any garden.

“As a resident of the Allegheny National Forest AND a lover of flowers (especially lilies!), I learned quickly that the two don’t mix unless you employ some kind of tool to repel the deer … and keep in mind that my lilies are currently blooming beautifully.”

She repeated what Trudy had said: “Lilies are like candy to deer.”

Several readers recommended somewhat similar homemade and equally odor-rific ‘deer repellents’ but here’s LaVonne’s recipe:

– Use a one-gallon milk jug, not necessarily clean

– Beat three eggs with one cup water. Add two tablespoons of cayenne ground pepper and one tablespoon of garlic salt (don’t use anything large enough to clog up your garden sprayer). Mix thoroughly and pour into the gallon jug. Fill with water until jug is three-quarters full. Put cap on this mixture and put in warm area to ‘ferment’ for a week or so. I keep mine in the garage.

When the eggs have achieved the ‘rotten odor’, shake well and pour into sprayer.

I whipped up a batch last Sunday. I must admit that, aroma-wise, I didn’t mind standing close to the ‘fresh’ version while mixing ingredients, but I’m apprehensive about the smell when I unscrew the jug’s lid and release the ‘fermented’ brew.

LaVonne recommends spraying twice a week for the first two weeks and weekly thereafter.

“This rotten egg odor seems to get into the ground after a while and continues to send the deer running. Eventually spraying every two or three weeks seems to do the trick. You can even get by with doing it every four weeks once the deer get the message … I mean scent.”

She said it can be sprayed directly on plants.

I’d like to add a very important warning right here: Make sure the wind is at your back before spraying.

Scott Williams offered two suggestions to keep deer away. One was to sprinkle dog hair throughout the garden because deer and dogs don’t get along.

His other suggestion was straight-forward: “Buy a rifle. Venison tastes good with veggies.”

It sure does.