Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dealing with Deer


This spring our biggest challenge seemed to be digging beds fast enough to plant. As we moved into the summer months germinating seeds turned into our challenge. Now it's deer. For the most part it's not been a huge issue, just a little nibbling around the edges. As a short term fix for this year we've been using salvaged row cover and simply covering the crops when we're not at the farm. Occasionally we come to the farm after a bit of wind to find that the wind has removed the cover and the deer are taking advantage. About 1/3 of the kale was eaten last week. The deer are kind enough to leave the growing tips so the plants will regrow, but they do an effective job of removing all of the leaves, as is apparent in the photo above.


Chicories seem to be their favorites. Unfortunately these don't really grow back, especially when they tear them out of the soft ground. How to solve deer issues is not clear cut for me. They live on the island too, and it's a bit arbitrary that we claim a certain little chunk of space for ourselves and ask the deer, mice and slugs not to eat from it. Fencing is the surefire approach but there are a number of drawbacks with fences. A proper deer fence needs to be about 8' to really be effective and fences are expensive, especially if you care what they look like and how long they'll last. The floating row cover is inexpensive but not particularly reliable and it also makes takes time to put on and take off all week. Nita suggested laying plastic deer fencing directly on top of the crops, and we'll be experimenting with that (thanks for that suggestion, Nita). This would have a few advantages over row cover, it probably doesn't blow off, and you can actually see what's happening underneath, but we'd still have to take it on and off so I'm not completely sold. I've got a handful of other ideas and techniques that will bounce around for a while, things like dogs, blood meal, fishing line. Some day we might even settle on one. Meanwhile I'm ok with a little damage if it means we can leave the space open and still have enough to go in the shares for the next five weeks.

PS Danny is harvesting solo tomorrow, and hoping to put out a slightly oversized share to carry folks through Thanksgiving week. All of this to allow me to head down to a meeting on small grain production. This also means there probably won't be a blog post on the share until Friday - you'll just have to wait for the bags to see what's in them.

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