2017 Harvest

Monday, July 24, 2017

Roe deer battle

Ever since we moved here we've always had the company of a few species of forest animals. It has been a perfectly normal to see rabbits running down the street, squirrels stealing our walnuts, dozens of different birds jumping around the garden and roe deer feeding on the meadows around us.
But in the past few years, roe deer have become a problem to the gardeners in our village.
Since there are no hunters in the village there is also no threat for them and they have started to run around completely free and unscared of anything. It has become a normal thing to see a roe deer with little ones walking just a few meters from the people. Over the past two years, they have learned how to jump over the fences and that is where the problems begun.

It's becoming almost impossible to keep them out of the garden. There is no fence high enough to keep them out. They simply stare at the fence and two minutes later they jump over without a run-up.
Once they are in the garden they start their feast.
They don't eat everything, no they have special vegetables they prefer. Beans are the ones that they adore. Every single young leaf they find they will gobble up, but only the young leaves. Pods and older leaves are left intact. This wouldn't be a problem if they came to eat once the plants have already made some pods. But usually they eat as soon as the plants start producing leaves and this means no pods.

Another favorite thing for them are beet and carrot leaves. It's the same story like with beans, they eat only the leaves, leaving the root intact.

Once they finish with this 3 vegetables they slowly turn to lettuce, amaranth, and blackberries chewing every single leaf.
And that is basically everything they eat. They couldn't care less for cabbages, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers which are left unharmed.

Of course, this situation is getting on our nerves so we try to prevent them from entering our garden. By our laws, we can't buy liquid repellents against animals because we don't own a certificate that we're in the business of professional gardening and there are no small packages for hobby gardeners so we have to use other methods which are more or less unsuccessful.
Some of our neighbors tried the oil trick dipping pieces of cloth in motor oil and hanging them all over the fence. It worked for a week or two and then they got used to it and started chewing again.
I've tried the old dog hair trick last year. Supposedly deer are scared of dogs so they avoid any place with dog hair. So last year I've filled little bags with dog hair, with I have plenty of having two dogs at home. It didn't work, probably because they are so relaxed they chew the grass in front of the yard with Nero barking just a few meters away. The good thing about the hairs was that in the spring birds used every single hair for their nests so I had to fill the bags again, but at least they were used for something good.

I've also tried making my fence look higher by sticking long branches and sticks inside it. This method worked for a while until they realized my branches were just branches. Now they don't have any problem with breaking them.

The next move was to make an ugly scarecrow(which doesn't scare crows at all) to keep them out. I've even places some bells on so it would make some noise while the wind is blowing. This is working for now, or at least I think it is because since I've placed my scarythingie there were no roe deer entering my garden.

Another thing I've noticed is that when I leave a barrel full of water in the garden they are always inside. Now someone would think poor little deer don't have where to drink so they enter the garden. Yeah, not true, they are just lazy. There is a creek just a few meters from my house with drinkable, fresh water and they are just too lazy to go there. Or maybe they are just using my water as an excuse to come and gobble my beans.
I'm hoping I will not find out the reason because eventhough I love animals and I love to see roe deer in the morning I prefer to see them away from my vegetables.


  1. I once read that if you string a thin wire horizontally above your fence (like a foot or so higher), the deer won't be able to judge it's height and so won't jump it. Probably would work with thin twine also. Might be worth a shot?

  2. There is a spray from Grazers that is supposed to deter deer from browsing but I don't know whether it works and to spray the whole garden would probably be too expensive. We have slugs doing much the same thing (not jumping fences) on a smaller scale so less devastating unless you consider that they wipe out whole rows of seedlings.


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