A neighbor told me he saw a deer in our yard the other evening, and again this morning. This is a problem.
And it has been a problem for the past few years. Our backyard has served as an amazing salad bar/dinner destination for the local deer, rabbit and groundhog population at great cost to us. Well, at least great emotional cost. Last year we had eighteen ears of beautiful golden yellow corn growing - ready to be picked in less than a week. And then one morning I came out to find utter devastation. Something - something BIG - had literally hacked them all in half, ate all the corn and then had the nerve to leave the scraps all over our yard.
Cleaning up the mess left by the monster that ravaged our corn crop? It was nothing short of heartbreaking.
Up until last summer, we'd tried what I now recognize as pretty wimpy forms of pest control. A 3-foot fence. Shiny pinwheels. Pie plates on sticks. A plastic owl (well, that one's not so wimpy. He is pretty menacing). Gnomes. Wind chimes. I look back and almost laugh. As though a gentle, tinkly song would scare off a corn-crazed quadruped. We were so naive.
Then we got crazy. Chopped up cayenne peppers. Human hair on stakes. Cat poop. Murphy's Oil Soap.
Being committed to keeping hazardous chemicals out of the garden (but, you know, having no qualms about feline waste), we'd never tried any other means of protection. But after The Corn Incident, things got serious (also here I should mention that The Cucumber Incident had occurred about 2 months prior. One day we had a few cucumber seedlings in the ground, the next day they were gone without a trace. This was some Area 51-level stuff going on). So we went to one of our favorite local garden centers and sought professional help (and at that point, really, we both could have used additional professional help to deal with the loss. Eighteen ears of corn!)
Which is when we were introduced to Liquid Fence. We bought a canister, sprinkled it everywhere, and it really seemed to work. Every two weeks and after every significant rain, we sprinkled it again. It did not cure the problem, but seemed to reduce it significantly (or, you know, they'd just had their fill of corn). You may balk at the price (about $16 for a container, and you may need several over the growing season), but it is worth it! Yes, pinwheels are cheaper, but they don't work!!! You may also think (like we did), "oh, I will just open this in the house and then run outside to sprinkle it." DON'T! The aroma of this stuff is hell in a can. Keep it out of the house! Take it outside, avoid strong wind, and sprinkle away.
And then, in the following year, erect a 7 foot high deer netting around your garden. It will be the worst, most frustrating project you ever do, and it will take two days. And it will be annoying because every time you want to get in the garden you will have to unhook the damn thing. But then, one day, your neighbor will tell you that there was a deer in your yard, and you will look and see your plants all intact, nothing touched. And you will smile.