... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deer and Kales

Here are five of the roughly two dozen reasons why it's hard to grow some things around here. Like... just about anything edible or having a trunk. LOL See the red arrow in the foreground pointing to last year's glossy kales. The kales mark the front of the regular garden. The deer are along the back edge of that garden. And the sea of foxtails behind the deer on the right is the "pumpkin patch" where we try to grow vine crops and corn. Lately we've been seeing them nearly everyday, but sometimes of the year they're less "present". Even so, if it weren't for regular "egg-sprays"* some of my smaller trees would never get a chance to get bigger.

* Egg-spray is just an egg shook up in a gallon of water and strained into a pump-sprayer. Deer are supposed to find the scent disgusting. So far so good. You just need to reapply after you get a few good rains, which can be a pain in a really rainy season. We haven't had one of those in a while! LOL
Disclaimer - As with anything, I'm not advocating you use it. So don't try to hold me liable for anything. Do your own research before you try anything at home. For instance, I don't spray the things that we'll be eating raw, when it gets close to eating time, because of the potential issues with bad things in raw eggs (like Salmonella). But I feel free to spray away on things that'll get a good cooking before they're eaten, and on inedibles.
Sometimes I add a couple of tablespoons of fish emulsion to the spray to do a foliar feeding while I'm at it. Might as well "kill two birds with one stone." And I figure that could only make the scent even more disgusting - raw eggs AND rotted fish, yummm!!! But in general I don't do a whole lot of fertilizing anyway.


  1. Hey Tom this is Max from RHS forum, deer just nibbled on my fig trees! They usually leave stuff alone cause of our fence. They should be fine though, I think.

    Had a question for you actually, have you ever looked into hybridizing delphinium? The regular British hybrids just don't do well in our MD heat, ever think trying to cross them with our native Delphinium exaltatum to produce hardier/more heat tolerant plants could be worthwhile?

  2. Hi Max,
    Wow, I would have thought figs were safe! I guess they'll nibble just about anything!

    And unfortunately, I've never even grown a single plant of any species of Delphinium. And I don't know anything about ease of crossibility in this Genus. Sorry I'm not much help. But it's sounds like it might be worthwhile to try. If you've got access to both, it sure wouldn't hurt to give it a go.

    If you find out they're not supposed to intercross you might want to consider trying mixed pollen and don't underestimate the power of sheer numbers (planting as many seeds as you can). I just planted a couple hundred seeds from grocery store (California) pomegranates knowing full well that they probably won't be hardy enough to survive here. My hope is that maybe I'll find one or more that vary enough from the rest that they'll make it here. What's it hurt to try, right?

    Good luck with your Delphiniums. And let me know what you find out.

  3. Thanks Tom! I love your blog, I have one where I post rose and garden design stuff sometimes but its a mixed media tumblr site so its not always very insightful as I post other pictures and stuff that gardeners wouldn't be particularly interested in.

    I find the deer around here who do get inside the fence like to taste but won't necessarily eat any more. Sort of taste-test and nibble. They did that to my roses once and really haven't tried again. Our dog is good at keeping them away. As is egg mixture. I used those on my species tulips which are outside the fence and it worked pretty well to keep both deer, rabbits and squirrels from picking them and or munching. One year because of school I couldn't come home as much to apply and sure enough- eaten. So egg with proper application really does work. Spring is toughest because its so wet. But really I agree with everything you say here about egg mixtures, I usually mix mine with water and cayenne pepper, garlic salt; stinky stuff.

    I do have access to different delph, and planted the native kind at my cousins to test if they're a colonizing/hardy/heat tolerant plant and worth buying and using in my garden designs or unurly and not worth it. My cousin said they bloomed great for her and are purple-blue in color, I have them planted with penstemon hybrids, which are surely one of my newer favorite native derived plants as well.

  4. Thank you, Max! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog! I'll have to check yours out - cuz there's nothing wrong with also posting non-gardening stuff. So far, I've only sprinkled in a couple of food related posts and maybe a philosophical rant but I won't guarantee that I won't throw other stuff in whenever I feel like it. ;0)
    Glad to hear that your deer aren't too troublesome. Lately they've been getting to be pretty rough on my plantings. Of course I haven't been using the eggs like I should so why am I acting surprised?
    I'd love to see pictures of your native delphs if you get any. And I always have had a soft spot for penstemons too. I used to have a red-flowered Southwestern species for a number of years - maybe it was called pinifolius or something like that. I got it from ForestFarm I think. Anyway, I finally lost it one winter but for several years it was really neat, growing in a wide crack between patio and a cinder block wall. I should have gotten another species and tried crossing before I lost them. And speaking of Penstemons, I see what I think may be a native local Penstemon along certain stretches of highway around here during the summer. One of these days I might have to try collecting a piece. It's a lavender to whitish flowered thing less than a foot tall.