Tag Archives: garden

Keep Deer From Devouring Your Yard and Garden

(ARA) -Springtime means sunshine, blooms, birdsong – and the dreaded “deer drama” that will inevitably wreak havoc in your beautiful backyard this season. Deer are now a permanent part of our landscapes, brazenly entering our yards and eating our gorgeous gardens. They are majestic animals, and beautiful to look at – from a distance. Up close, trampling and tasting your tulips, they’re just not a welcome sight.

Springtime is when deer damage is most noticeable, particularly as plants awaken from months of dormancy and prepare to bloom. Deer are the poster critters of natural adaptability. As suburbia has encroached on their wild habitat, deer have adjusted easily, finding plenty to eat in residential landscapes.

“In the early part of the 20th century, the deer population in the U.S. was less than half a million animals,” says Greg Ecsedy, owner of Bobbex Inc., which manufactures deer repellent. “Today, estimates place the deer population at between 15 million and 20 million animals that cause about $1 billion a year in damage to farms, gardens, yards and timber.”

“We know that deer will eat more than 500 different types of plants, so there’s a good chance that something you’ve planted will appeal to them, and you can bet they’ll eat it,” Ecsedy says.

Since deer need to consume a high volume of calories to survive – bucks weighing 125 to 250 pounds need 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day – their foraging can cause significant damage to suburban landscapes. Deer seldom travel alone, so a small herd can devastate a neighborhood quickly. Deer’s close proximity to people over the course of time has dulled their natural fear, so it’s quite common to see multiple deer nonchalantly noshing away – right outside your window.

Deer’s adaptability stems from their capacity to learn. Homeowners can defend their landscape by putting deer’s natural learning ability to good use. Deterrents that convince the deer your yard is no longer a desirable dining destination can successfully protect your home environment from these foraging foes.

Several methods can be effective in deterring deer, including the use of repellents like all-natural Bobbex Deer Repellent. Common solutions include:

* Deer Repellent – Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell to assess the desirability of an area for feeding, and to alert them to danger. Disrupting their sense of smell can disrupt their sense of security, which is why scent-based repellents often prove effective. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station gave Bobbex a 93 percent protection index – second only to a fence, at 100 percent, for effectiveness. The repellent uses ingredients that blend the scents of putrescent eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil and other proteins, so it smells and tastes awful to deer. It’s environmentally friendly and safe for animals and your family.

Apply it in almost any weather, it dries clear, won’t wash off after heavy rain or burn plants and grass. Bobbex Deer Repellent is available online at www.homedepot.com and in garden retail stores. To learn more, visit www.bobbex.com.

* Deer Deterrent Devices – Motion-activated noise makers and lights can scare deer off for a short time. Deer’s movement in the yard can activate motion lights at night, scaring them away, during the day you can use motion-activated sound. It’s likely, however, that deer will become acclimated to both tactics over time, and the sound and motion might not have an effect on them.

* Deer Fence – Fencing is considered the only surefire way to keep deer out of a garden, but keep in mind that deer have been known to jump 10-foot fences, and many communities restrict the height of fencing. You may not be able to put up a fence high enough to keep deer away – plus, fencing might not be practical and can be costly.

* Deer Resistant Flowers – Another option is to grow plants that deer don’t like. A hungry deer will eat just about anything, but you may have some success by planting deer-resistant flowers and plants like catmint, hellebore, yarrow, fuzzy lamb’s ear, and cleome near the plants you want to protect.

“Gardening on a rural acreage with a large deer population proved challenging in all seasons until we discovered Bobbex Deer Repellent,” says garden writer Jan Patrick. “We like that the same product we used to protect our shrubs and dwarf conifers in winter also effectively protects the summer garden. The fertilizer value of Bobbex is an extra plus.”

Now is the Time to Plan Your Spring Garden

As we turn the calendar page from February to March here in Central Texas, signs of the approaching spring are becoming more and more evident.

Signs of Spring
When I looked out the window this morning, I was delighted to see the first peach blossoms just starting to bloom. My fall vegetable garden is reluctantly offering up its last harvests of the season. The gentle rain of falling oak leaves is just beginning to hit the ground and offers a foreshadowing of the fluttering brown deluge yet to come. Of course what once was my front lawn, before our record heat and drought last summer, has been vigorously sprouting strange, green, alien intruders that seem to mock the last dry brown remnants of St. Augustine grass.

Get Started
As our thoughts also turn to spring, now is the time to take stock of our yards and make plans for our warm season garden. So grab a cold drink and find some shade, or huddle over a hot cup of cocoa and put on a warm sweater depending on what these unpredictable mornings hold, and let’s get started. By planning, and where appropriate planting now, your landscape and garden will be ready to flourish in the months to come.

Clean it Up
The best way to start getting your garden ready for spring is to clean it up. Remove any dead or spent plants from the garden and, if they are not diseased, add them to your compost pile. Pull any weeds that may have started to take hold. Once you’ve cleaned up, you will want to amend your soil by adding compost to garden beds and tilling it in. This will help replace nutrients taken up by the previous planting.

Draw a Plan
Grab a pencil and some paper and draw a diagram of your yard. You don’t need a degree in art or an expensive software program to draw a rough sketch of your landscape and garden plan. If you have the original survey from when you bought your house, make a copy of it and use that as a starting point. If not, just make a rough sketch of the footprint of your home. Draw in existing landscape features, and planned garden areas. Indicate which way is north and make note of any shady or poorly drained areas.

Plant What you Like
When planning what vegetables to plant, it’s easy to get carried away and want to grow everything under the sun. It’s always fun to try something new, but focus on growing what you really like. Make a list of the warm season vegetables for your area that your family likes and rank them from most to least liked. Plan on planting what you like. If no one in your family likes lima beans or squash, for example, then plan on planting more of what is most appealing.

Can, Store, or Eat
Once you know what you want to plant, decide what the intended use for each vegetable and herb will be. Do you plan on canning enough to last through the winter? Will you be freezing or dehydrating? Or, will you just eat and enjoy what you harvest this spring and summer. Different varieties of many vegetables are better suited to a specific purpose such as canning. Do your research.

Don’t Forget the Flowers
When planning your vegetable garden, it’s easy to overlook the importance of flowers. Look at your landscape as a whole and determine what native or locally adapted flowers are best suited to the different areas of your yard based on their color, size, water requirements, and the amount of sun needed. Flowers are an attractive, and highly effective way of drawing pollinators into the yard and garden.

Add New Beds
Now that you know what you will be planting and what your harvest will be used for, you can determine how much of each variety you should plant. Look at your existing bed space and any areas of your yard that you may want to convert to garden beds. For new beds, avoid low-lying, poorly drained areas. Clear the ground, till and amend the soil now. Better yet, try raised beds. They are a great way to avoid having to deal with the rock filled soil around here, and will maximize your harvest in the space available.

Order Seeds Now
As soon as you’ve determined which vegetables, what varieties, and how many of each you will be planting, go ahead and buy your seeds now. This will ensure that you get exactly what you want and have them ready to plant when the time arrives; however, wait until just before planting to purchase transplants.

Know When to Plant
One of the most important factors in having a successful home garden is planting each vegetable at just the right time. The Williamson County Texas AgriLife Extension Service recommends the following:

[ Spring Planting Dates for Central Texas ]

Asparagus: After February 1
Beans, snap bush: March 5 – May 1
Beans, snap pole: March 5 – April 15
Beans, Lima bush: March 15 – April 15
Beans, Lima pole: March 15- April 15
Chard, Swiss: February 1 – March 10
Collards: February 1 – March 25
Corn: February 25 – May 1
Cucumbers: March 5 – May 1
Eggplant: March 15 – May 1
Lettuce: February 1 – March 15
Cantaloupe: March 15 – May 1
Mustard: February 1 – April 1
Peas, southern: March 25 – May 20
Peppers (transplant): March 15 – May 1
Potato, sweet (slips): April 10 – May 15
Pumpkin: April 1 – April 20
Radish: February 1 – May 1
Squash, summer: March 5 – May 1
Tomato (transplant): March 15 – April 10
Turnip: February 1 – March 10
Watermelon: March 15 – May 1

– Note: The planting dates for your geographic area will vary –

To find the appropriate spring planting dates for your specific area, check with your local Cooperative Extension Agency, or refer to our Planting Guides for Fruits and Vegetables on the top menu.

Don’t Lose Track of Today
Well, there you have it. It may seem like a lot of work, and it probably is, but if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start getting ready for your spring garden. Sometimes it’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done in the garden this time of the year, but remember to enjoy each day on its own merit. These pleasant spring days working in the yard will soon give way to hot summer days of weeding, harvesting, and canning. So don’t let the anticipation, or dread, of your spring garden, and the promise of warmer temperatures yet to come, distract you from today. Remember, “To everything there is a season.”

Five Simple Steps to Ease Into Spring Projects

(ARA) – Now, while winter is still around, is the best time for homeowners  to get a jump start on planning and prepping for their spring and summer home and garden projects; so when the weather really does warm up, it takes little effort to get the projects underway. In addition to fine-tuning home improvement and gardening plans, it is also a good idea to make certain the required tools are in tip-top shape, so the projects are not delayed.

Here are some ways to prepare for the spring and summer seasons with just a few simple steps:

* Plans – Sketch out those garden plans, and pick the plants that can be purchased or grown from seed by checking out our comprehensive Seed Source Guide. Plans don’t need to be drawn to scale, but they’ll provide great background information for a shopping list. Research how early seedlings should be started, so they’ll be ready for transplant when the time arrives.

Also create plans for any home projects that need to be accomplished. The depth of those plans depends on how complicated the project is. Make certain all permits are in order, if required by the community; and if a contractor is needed, a formal agreement and timeline is in place prior to work commencing.

* Lawn tools – Check pruning shears for sharp blades – and either sharpen or replace them if they don’t easily cut through a small stem of plant material. Also, review lawn mower blades. Check the oil, gasoline and starters on all gardening machinery to ensure they’ll run correctly when needed.

* House tools – A review of all home tools helps to determine if any new purchases – or replacements are needed. This is the perfect time to head to the store and purchase missing tools, add new blades to saws or replenish the sandpaper stash – eliminating wasted time running back and forth to the store.

* Hand tools – A little care can go a long way in keeping your hands and feet – the most valuable tools found in every household – in good shape after the long, dry winter months. These tools are vital to accomplishing everything on those garden and home project lists, and they are often forgotten. O’Keeffe’s Working Hands and O’Keeffe’s for Healthy Feet are both guaranteed to effectively relieve dry, cracked skin in even the most extreme cases. And just a little bit of the highly concentrated, hypoallergenic and odorless creams is needed. Start every project off with healthy hands, and keep them that way throughout the entire season of projects. It’s the best cream for dry hands – especially after the long and dry winter months.

* Materials – As the project season gets closer, start purchasing the materials needed ahead of time. This helps to spread the cost out, and can give an idea of how much time and effort the project will take to be completed. Get started now in matching colors, finding the perfect accessories and even price-comparing between different suppliers to help save money.

For homeowners who haven’t experienced the warm-weather-project itch quite yet, it’s still a good idea to start thinking about those items on to-do lists to help with being prepared and ready to go when the season arrives. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to have a successful spring and summer project season. Don’t forget O’Keeffe’s Working Hands and O’Keeffe’s for Healthy Feet to keep hands and feet in healthy shape to tackle any job.