- Waterwise Gardening | David Salman
Protecting your Garden Plants from Hungry Animals
Browsing animals and new spring transplants are a bad combination. Nothing is more annoying than going out the morning after the previous day’s labor of planting, only to find all your plants bitten off at the soil line. The lesson here is that it’s important to understand that deer and rabbit resistant plants need some initial protection from our hoofed neighbors after planting.
Experience has shown me that deer and rabbit resistant plants generally don’t come that way from the nursery. This is because nursery grown plants are grown in soil-less mixes that use ingredients such composted bark, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, rice hulls and soluble nutrients to create a well drained mix in which we can grow potted plants. Plants that depend on aromatic oils and bitter compounds to repel animals won't synthesize them in sufficient quantities when grown in the greenhouse. But transplants, after a few months growing in the ground, begin to accumulate these animal repellent compounds in their leaves and stems and their browse resistance increases.
Spray Repellents At Transplanting Time
I strongly recommend deer and rabbit repellent sprays when it comes to protecting young transplants from being eaten. Even deer and rabbits plants need initial protection.
In our home garden, rabbits are the biggest challenge but deer have moved into our in-town neighborhood as well. The rabbits eat our cold hardy cacti, succulents, and perennials especially when the gramma grass is dry and/or dormant. When we discovered about Bobbex Animal Repellent and talked to the manufacturer, we shipped in a truckload to sell to our Waterwise gardeners. The Bobbexx has been tested and rated as the most effective deer repellent other than a fence. It’s safe (all-natural ingredients) long-lasting, effective and contains 12 ingredients including proteins that deter herbivores. Bobbexx has some nutritional effect on plants along with an ingredient that keeps the leaves from desiccating.
We’ll have ready-to-use quart spray bottles and Chase Mole and Gopher Med available for sale at our next open date, September 28th.
Protect The Roots
Gophers can be a problem eating new roots. Chase Mole and Gopher Med is a time-tested product that repels gophers without traps or poisons. Spread the granules around plants that need protection and water it in with an overhead sprinkler to carry the castor oil into the ground. Reapply in 8 to 12 weeks depending on the level of gopher activity.
In times of drought and a lack of natural forage, additional measures may need to be taken because browsing animals are simply too hungry to be put off by unpleasant tastes and smells that repellents use to detract the animals. Physical barriers may be necessary.
Poultry wire cages held in place with bamboo stakes are effective.
Covering plants with light spun fabric known as “row crop cover” used by vegetable gardeners to protect from frost and insects.
Sometimes when deer pressure is simply overwhelming during all times of the year, a deer-proof fence is the gardener’s last resort. A deer fence can be very inconspicuous when using a thin-mesh fencing wire and small diameter posts. It typically needs to be 6 feet in height to keep the deer from jumping the fence.