at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Oh, Deer! (and other tales from the garden)

I have had a new visitor to my vegetable garden this year: deer. We have a field-ish type area behind our house, scattered with trees, and there are deer that live back there. From time to time we'll see them in the backyard, but until this year, they'd stayed clear of my garden. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing my daily garden "walk" and pulling a couple of weeds, when I noticed a couple of deep indentations in the soil. Upon further inspection I realized it was a hoof print! 

Somebody's been eating my carrots...
Then, I took a closer look at my garden and realized that the tops of some of my carrots had been bitten off, along with a sunflower and the tops of my potted zinnia seedlings. Since then, they've munched on more carrots and completely devoured all of my remaining Swiss chard. I was actually surprised about that last one -- Swiss chard has a pretty strong taste and I didn't think they'd like it. They've left all of my old/bolting lettuce alone, but apparently they, too, like Bright Lights Swiss Chard. 

Munched on Swiss chard...
I really want them to keep away from my tomatoes. I would be devastated if those got eaten. Especially from the two precious plants that grew from my seeds. So, I decided that I needed a good defense. I had heard that deer don't like the smell of marigolds and I already have then planted along the perimeter of one side of the garden. I've heard lots of other things that can keep them away, but I went to the hardware store in search of something a little strange: dried coyote urine. Yep. It's supposed to work quite well. Tom has brought up the question of how they go about collecting said urine. It's probably best not to think about. Another thing that's recommended to keep deer away is dried blood (it's in a lot of the deer repellents you can buy)...which may also have questionable collection methods. Alas, the store I went to did not have any coyote urine in stock. They had a few different deer repellents, but I ended up going with the "Liquid Fence" spray. It does smell bad, but not quite as bad as I had anticipated. Hopefully it wards off the deer and they will stay confined to the field. 

I spent a ton of time working on my much-neglected garden this weekend. I went through and weeded the whole thing, which was long overdue and quite an arduous task. It looks so pretty now, though, and perhaps now my vegetables won't get choked out! I've been keeping up with the squash bugs--squishing any I find and destroying all the eggs, though I've had some squash plants die. My little pumpkin, which I thought was a white pumpkin, has now turned yellow, so I'm not sure what it'll end up being. The other squash is doing well, though I still don't quite know what it is. 

My first pumpkin I've ever grown!
My yet unidentified squash

I finally went through and staked my tomato plants, too. I am still using the same stakes I got two years ago. I'm kind of frugal...and was too cheap to buy the tomato cages when I first started my garden, but I needed something to tie the tomato plants to the stakes. I had read that some people use twist ties, but also read that that may not be the best idea, because it can cut into the plant as it grows. I decided to look around my house for some sort of stretchy material that I could use, and came across a great solution: tulle. I had some old tulle fabric lying around that I wasn't using for anything, so I decided to cut that into long strips and use as ties for my tomato plants. It works great. I've continued to use tulle each year. It stretches quite a bit and I never feel like it's cutting into the plant. 

A question for you gardeners (or perhaps for Google): What are you supposed to do with pea plants after they are done producing? The stalks die off, or so it seems. I began pulling them up, when I realized that at the very base of the stalks, new leaves were growing, very close to the ground, and some of them were already flowering and producing new peas. So...are you supposed to leave them? Or just trim them back? My other mistake with peas: I intended to leave some of the large pea pods (that grew too big while we were on vacation) on the vine to dry out, then I was going to harvest them to use as seed for my next crop. Well...I guess I wasn't paying attention for a couple of weeks, because when I finally went outside to pick them, they were gone! Gone?? I was confused at first, then realized what I think happened: they had dried out, fallen to the ground and started to decompose! That quickly! I found several shriveled up peas on the ground, so I decided to leave them there in order to determine how well pea plants re-seed themselves. We'll find out!

And here are a few more garden gems...

Blue delphinium -- our wedding flower!

TONS of these in the garden now; not sure where
they came from...I think seeds I planted last year??

something burrowed near my potato plants, revealing a mini spud!

First green bean harvest of the year!
sunflowers are popping up all over the place thanks to the birds

I actually put flowers in my pots this year!

Some marigolds are actually pretty :)

Pathway between the gardens

Grape tomatoes -- one of my two plants
that grew from seed
My other tomato plant that grew from
seed - not sure what type it is yet!

Baby tomato "volunteer" I found when I removed the
dying pea stems. Not sure it'll be able to produce anything,
but, we'll see!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!