Guarding My Garden

The green beans are gone.

The tomatoes are gone, thanks to the frost which greeted us Monday morning.

The peas are gone.

The zucchini are gone, too.

So are the cucumbers, summer squash, lettuce, spinach, and everything else that grew in the garden, except a small patch of carrots.

They’re all gone.

Some were picked and eaten, some were picked and given to family and friends, and some were ripped from the vine and gobbled down as word of free food spread on the deer’s social media network.

We’ve planted vegetable gardens for many years, and we’ve always had four-legged intruders, starting with the not-so-cute bunnies. But the frequency of the late-night sampling and size of the uninvited diners has increased in recent years.

That’s why, shortly after our ten raised beds were planted this past spring, I wrote about my concern that the deer would once again consider our garden an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord throughout the growing season.

The problem, I wrote, is the configuration of our garden beds makes them indefensible and un-fenceable.

“How do I stop them?” I asked. “How can I stop them?”

Thankfully, readers responded with suggestions.

Some I tried with no success.

Some, because I live within the city limits, I was wary of trying: “Buy a rifle. Venison tastes good with veggies.”

Some I tried, and they seemed to work.

I must qualify any endorsement with “seemed to work” because, honestly, I wasn’t as vigilant or persistent as I should have been to expect exceptional ‘Get Away From My Garden!’ results.

I was skeptical that strategically-placed solar lights in the shape of hummingbirds, dragonflies and butterflies that rotate from red to blue to green would keep deer at bay. But, perhaps some deer are sissies and truly afraid of green butterflies.

I was less skeptical about mixing up an ‘odor-rific’ concoction in my kitchen because several readers submitted very similar recipes for a deer repellant. The one I tried called for three eggs, cayenne pepper, ground pepper, garlic salt and some water. I then had to let it ferment for a week in my garage before shaking thoroughly and pouring it into a sprayer (while learning how long I could hold my breath).

I was advised to follow the instructions religiously: spray twice a week for the first two weeks and then taper off to weekly or bi-weekly, depending upon how often it rains or the garden is watered.

I meant to … but I didn’t.

The mixture had the distinctive smell of rotten eggs with a bit of heat from the cayenne pepper, and there were evenings when I should have sprayed but instead convinced myself that no amount of rain could wash away the smell.

Only once did I forget to check which way was the wind was blowing before spraying.

And only once did my wife say, “Don’t you even think about spraying today.” She was having dinner on the patio with friends, and the garden beds are easily within smelling distance.

So did the spray and the lights help?

I’d like to say, “Darn tootin’ they did!” but realistically, I must tone my assessment down to “I think so.”

As they say in the sports world, “Wait until next year!”