The Bambi Wars Continue

My latest weapon in the war against the deer is kimchi. The dryer sheets I tried last summer repelled them only briefly (and then quickly fell to pieces), and the creatures are apparently starting to savor the scent of rotten egg. Rotten egg presents other problems, too: It clogs the sprayer, and it ruins my appetite for fruits and vegetables sprayed with the stuff. So this year I thought I’d try a variant on the sulfurous theme, with chile to burn the tongue in case the odor of garlic isn’t offensive enough.

I threw whole heads of garlic—little ones that were too much trouble to peel—into the Vitamix along with handfuls of dried chiles (I have mountains of them, thanks to last year’s long, warm summer). I added water, blended the mixture thoroughly, and left it to sit on the kitchen counter through several days of rain. The mixture fermented, of course, and soon we were smelling . . . kimchi! By the time the sun came out the stink was strong enough to drive my husband out of the house. So I strained the juice through muslin, poured the liquid into the backpack sprayer, added more water, and went to work spraying the orchard.

The deer seemed to lose their appetite for a week or two. Then more rain fell, and the deer found my peas. Fortunately I’d left the sprayer partially filled in the barn, which no stray cat (or husband) would subsequently go near. I went spraying again—and also rigged up some wires in hopes of garroting a pea-eating deer. (I caught a lawn-mowing husband instead. He howled, but he left the wires alone. He likes peas.)

kimchi juiceI ran out of the juice before spraying some of the roses and blueberries, and last night the midnight marauders gave those bushes an unwelcome pruning. But when I’d made cabbage kimchi a week previously, I’d reserved some excess liquid. We should have had a meal of kimchi soup—I love kimchi soup– but we hadn’t yet, and so two quarts of cloudy, smelly red juice still sat on the kitchen counter today. I poured the liquid through muslin and scooped the chile-ginger-garlic mash that remained into the jars of kimchi.

I’m off to fill the sprayer again, this time with real kimchi juice. Wish me luck!

15 thoughts on “The Bambi Wars Continue”

  1. “I caught a lawn-mowing husband instead. He howled, but he left the wires alone. He likes peas” LOL!

  2. A little acrylic paint in the mix will make it rain-fast, sorry I don’t know how much, start thin and up it until it works.
    Electric? visually not so great but there are good 12V energisers used by the horse fraternity and by elephant harassed farmers in India and Africa.
    Would a wall of Nicotiana keep them out? as well as catching all those pesky white-fly.

  3. Thanks for the paint idea; I would like to make my repellent rain-fast somehow. As for Nicotiana, deer aren’t supposed to like it, but I haven’t read that it scares them off. Good fencing is probably the only good solution.

  4. I gave up this year. Bambi and family have done a number on my fruit trees, and decorative plants .I planted a few veggies in large pots behind a fenced area. In about 5 weeks I am getting a puppy. I plan to use that laser fencing to keep the dog in areas I want him, and he will also keep the deer out of areas, hopefully. I am not too sure how it’s going to go at night yet.

    1. Robert keeps telling me that a dog would keep the deer away. I say we’d have to fence the dog. He says the fence wouldn’t have to be so tall for a dog. At the moment, though, I’m keeping the deer out of some areas with a single thin wire attached to skinny bamboo poles stuck just a few inches into the soil.

  5. Linda, I am using a product called Liquid Fence, which has finally allowed me to have hostas for the first time in years. We live on a heavily wooded acreage in Virginia and the deer are brave enough to eat the potted plants on my front porch next to the door! Liquid Fence smells HORRIBLE, but drys without scent and it’s organic. I swear by it. You can buy it in concentrate on Amazon.

  6. Liquid Fence is mostly rotten egg and garlic, right? With a little thyme oil added? I think I’ve used this product, but to save money I usually use my homegrown eggs and garlic. Maybe I should try adding some thyme.

  7. We’re lucky Yellowknife – no deer but I do have birds pecking at my berries. Peck one, puncturing it but not eating it then move on to the next. And I have squirrels digging for something in the soil.
    That said, pretty minor compared to deer.

  8. I’ve had the best luck, with deer repellents, with a product called PlantSkydd. The main ingredient is dried blood. And its seriously puke worthy when you spray it. However once it dries us humans can’t smell it. The deer and rabbits clearly can though. They say it lasts a month, and that matches my own experience. The only time it didn’t last at least the 30days was the one summer we were getting pouring rain all day every day. Then I had to re-apply every two weeks. But most of the time it lasts a solid 30days plus.

    A dog would only work if it was outside when the deer where trying to access the garden. Which, in my experience, is after dark and at dawn. Trust me on this one. I have two, one of whom is big enough to be mistaken for a deer himself. And the deer don’t care!

  9. My father uses blood in his hazelnut orchard, but not, I think, once the nuts are formed. I can’t even think of spraying blood on my tomatoes. Despite frequent sprayings of garlic, hot pepper, and rotten egg, however, the deer have eaten every tomato on more than 80 plants this summer. I’m not exaggerating: I have harvested not a single tomato from this plot. Instead, I’ve raided the garden of some friends during their vacation. Although they see deer in their orchard every day when they’re home, a single fence no higher than six feet has kept their vegetable garden deer-free. I’m convinced that good fencing is the answer.

    Dogs can help, too. Several dogs kept on chains just beyond my husband’s vineyard have kept the vineyard deer-free (although the neighbors with the dogs also have chickens, who consume a shocking proportion of the fruit). But I don’t want dogs, especially not dogs on chains.

    1. I don’t generally spray it on the ready or almost ready to pick fruits. I find spraying down the bases of the plants to be plenty, or even spraying a solid circle around the garden, does the job just fine.

    2. And yes, but those dogs are out there when the deer are. Just having a family dog who’s out during the day isn’t the solution (even when its a big protective dog who thinks deer need to DIE for INVADING HIS YARD).

  10. We have used HUMAN Hair around the garden and it works wonderfully with the black tail deer here in Washington..I go to the hair salon and get a bag full and sprinkle lightly around the perimeter of the garden you can hardly see it and you would not notice if someone doesn’t point it out. Tills into the garden and lasts awhile just add more fresh hair every so often (once a month or so).

    1. Vera, I would have loved to have bags of human hair on the farm I’ve sold. Is it common for hair salons to give away hair to anybody who asks? Are there competing uses for the hair?

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