Clay soil and Deer

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by bergere, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    We made it to our new farm. No garden and lots of old fruit trees that need help.
    Have Clay soil and lots of deer. Deer walked up onto my porch and ate the leaves off the Raspberry starts I brought with me already. Sigh ~ ~
    So should be interesting.

    Have not done much gardening in clay soil,, have dealt with sandy soil quite a bit.

    I remember seeing a set up in a old Countryside Mag.. where some folks had old large hoop house, and instead of using plastic, they used bird netting for the top,, and wire for the sides and the ground. That way creatures could not get into the garden.
    With Raised garden beds,,, might cost a bit, but maintaince once done right should not be much.

    Guess I had better be saving up my pennies for this coming spring.

    What does everyone else do to keep deer and other creatures out of your gardens?
     
  2. reba

    reba Member

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    As to clay soil- I started out trying raised beds, but each bed took so many days to break thru the (so called) soil, then removing the small rocks and weeds/blueberry roots etc. Because I live on a mountain top, the soil was only about 2 inches deep before hitting the hard shale that needed to be broken up with a pickaxe. So, by the time I got down to at least a foot and one half deep (and loosened the shale at the bottom), the problem I had, was there was not much in the way of natural growing medium left to fill the beds. So then I had to add to each bed -bales of growing mix, or peat moss & vermiculite/perlite, & bagged topsoil (for the sand and soil mix), lots of bagged humus and homemade leaf compost (no such thing as enough compost) and various fertilizers like bone meal etc. The point is, I ended up needing to make ALL the soil to go in those darn dug beds. So I then just started putting it on a weeded/destoned and barely dug at all sections of ground. Eventually tho, the problems of surface weeds and drainage led me to my last and very successful method of not digging in that soil at all. I spent many pennies and bought (and got free from landscapers who toss them away) many huge and smaller plastic pots-gotten expressly for the vegetables they were meant to grow. The largest hold 2 or 3 large tomatoes/zucchini/cukes etc, on down thru various sizes, that correspond with the root system of each plant. (Even a carrot needs a foot or more for it's root depending on variety). With stakes (tree branches even) in each pot, or old fencing etc, each pot top can be covered with whatever you need to keep your variety of critter out of it. Eg- bird netting off blueberries or strawberries or ripening tomatoes etc. Or window screening to keep moths and thus worms out of your squash. When the pots are grouped together according to climatic needs and small pots with herbs surround them, to encourage or discourage good/bad bugs, the larger pests like deer don't usually like to come so close. I however, had to eventually surround large groupings of pots with 'walls' of PVC pipe and chicken wire which finally kept out the deer. Watering can be done the old fashioned way or inexpensively with small drip emitters in each pot, connected to feeder tubing that goes from pot to pot. The pots by the way, mostly sit on used black plastic sheeting which stops things like pill bugs, weeds and soilborne viruses from migrating up thru the pot's many drainage holes in their bottoms.
    There are so many pluses to this system of pots...including a wonderful system to be able to rotate the crops (learn your groups of plants that are susceptable to similar diseases and growing conditions)- tomatoes never have to grow in the same pot more than once every 3 years etc.- Each pot is labeled by number and I keep track in a journal (REALLY a good idea from year to year). Each pot is very easy to seed and thin- no waste. Also, each pot gets exactly what the vegetable/fruit you grow in it that year needs, from sun/shade, watering, insect & pest protection, root and spread requirements of each plant etc. Trellises by the way, can be set along a row of pots using metal fenceposts in the ground between the pots, with the trellis attached at whatever height is needed, for peas for example, or can be on both sides of a single pot, like for tomatoes or cukes. Using the soiless mixes has virtually eliminated all the many soilborne viruses I used to have. If a tomato plant in a pot gets a blight, I can pull just that pot's plants, (cover with black plastic to solar disinfect that pot's soil for a few weeks), and the other pots are usually fine since they don't share the infected soil.
    The minuses include mainly the initial expense if you purchase the pots or having to scrub and sterilize well the pots if you aquire them from the landscape trade (tree planters have the biggest pots). Also the expense of the huge bales of Gro-Mix type soiless growing medium if you go that route, but again- I had to go that route anyway since I HAD no soil.
    Deer- what can I say. I live in the woods in the mountains. Over the last 30 years I have tried it all and all to some small measure of success. But nothing gave total success except to pen them out but only when pants are panted in small groups. If they can jump over and in they will. If a group of plants is only about 12 feet wide, surrounded by any kind of cheap fencing (even plastic) and they can't see a way to move around if they jump in, to be able to jump back out, then they won't. Same thing works for raised beds or even plants right in the ground. The trick is always that the distance between the front/back/side fencing has to be close enough to discourage jumping in and out again. Also, they'll go under if they can, before they'll jump over, especially the young ones.
    I've had some success for the ornamentals around my house (they come up the stairs and onto my deck) using coyote urine- comes in a squeeze bottle mail order) a few drops about 10 feet apart, (peeing yourself to 'mark your territory' yourself helps too), also stinkey deodorant soap tied with string and hung from larger bushes. The commercial products work to some degree, but they are very very expensive and really doesn't work as well for your veggies/fruit.
    Really, for your eating gardens- in some way.... fence them out.
    By the way, if you have raccoons- all bets are off.
    If you need, I can tell you the extra steps you need to take, if you go with either pots or raised beds, to thwart off raccoons, possoms, chipmonks, (chipmonks and moles/voles LOVE raised beds) etc. (I have these and many more to deal with here.)
    Well I hope I've helped. If anyone wants to go the pot route I can tell you also what amounts and sizes etc. that I use to grow all my garden.
    Good luck with yours= it's a labor of love no matter how you grow your own.
     

  3. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Montana! Reba, where do you live in the mountains at? and at what altitude? I also have no soil and live on top of a mountian. I grow mostly in raised beds in a greenhouse (zone 4) and some potatoes in old tires filled with compost and store bought soil.
     
  4. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Reba,

    You have a lot of really good ideas!!! Thank you.

    Ya, I have every creature out there,, should be interesting keeping them away from the garden.
     
  5. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Well, my pet deer ate the irish spring soap we put out to keep him away from the garden, so I wouldn't mess with soap. I think he would eat deoderant too. :no:
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    With clay soil I've had really good luck by just piling on the mulch and planting in that. I'm talking 12 inches deep after it has packed down some.

    For deer, (and antelope) physical barrier between plant and deer is the only thing that truly works.
     
  7. reba

    reba Member

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    Hi Montana,
    Compared to the mountains in Montana, our mountains look like bumps on a log, but it's high enough for us in these West Va. hills, abt 1,300 feet- zone 5 in normal times, zone 4 when Mother Nature is having a bad growing season. Glad to see someone else who understands the need to buy soil. How many potatatoes can you plant in a tire? Reba
     
  8. reba

    reba Member

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    Your welcome Bergere. I have a heck of a lot of em (good gardening ideas...ask anytime). Let me know how it goes. I'll try to check in with the forum at least once a week. Reba
     
  9. reba

    reba Member

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    Sorry, I mis-spoke. I'm in zone 6, slipping to zone 5 at Mother Nature's fancy (not 5 to 4).