Gardening: How to make your own deer repellent for the garden – The Morning Call

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Q: In June 2015, I purchased about 20 daylilies at Glick’s in Oley which I planted in an area I had cleaned out. By the time I had all of them planted it was almost dark, so I put off taking a picture until the next morning. I went out the next morning with my camera only to find that the deer had eaten every bloom and 90 percent of the buds! No daylilies that summer. I bought quite a few catmint (Nepeta) and planted them all around the daylilies. The deer do not touch the catmint, and the bees and butterflies love it.
Spring 2016: the deer ate all the plants as soon as they emerged from the ground — no daylilies that year! Over the winter a friend gave me this recipe to sprinkle on plants you don’t want the deer to eat:
One gallon water
One tablespoon Dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue stuff)
One or two eggs
Mix and let set — it works!
This year I enjoyed my daylilies and my sunflowers, begonias, tomatoes, peppers and hostas. Anything I sprinkled, they didn’t touch. It is a chore, especially if you have a lot of plants, and if it rains you have to redo it.
This year they didn’t touch the hostas until about a month ago, when they began munching on the leaves.
This mix really does smell, so I’m not sure I’d want to sprinkle it on the tomatoes or peppers that are on the plants — not sure how they would taste! I find it amazing that they, the deer, don’t touch any weeds! I’m looking forward to spring!
—Joan Mathias, Hellertown
A: Joan’s home mixture focuses on deers’ extremely sensitive sense of smell. Many commercial deer repellents use the same tactics. In Joan’s mixture, it is the eggs that produce the smell; similar to the sulfurous smell in commercial mixtures.
The dishwashing liquid is a surfactant, a substance that, among other things, acts as a wetting agent. This keeps the material, the rotten eggs, on the leaves. The water just served to mix the two together and produce a solution that can be sprinkled or sprayed on the target plants.
Other homemade recipes combine taste and smell items:
Hot sauce, raw eggs and garlic
Cayenne, vinegar and water
Milk and eggs
Sour cream and soap
Yolk and baking powder
Mint, clove oil, or cinnamon oil, rosemary oil, egg and water
A quick internet search, or a little experimentation should be enough to create your own mixture.
Plant now
We are blessed with warm weather lately. Take advantage of it and get those plants in the ground. Fall planting is a great idea. It allows the plants to recover from transplant shock and establish new roots in the still-warm autumn soil. Remember to water these new plants regularly just as you would if they were in pots. This will give your plants a head start over those you set out in the spring. It also clears that plant holding area. It is also a good time to scout the nurseries for end-of-season sales.
If you are too busy to get to everything, use this time to get the plants in the ground. You have a few weeks yet to plant the bulbs.
Questions in the mail
While I enjoy receiving questions, email or snail mail, I must remind you that it is not a good idea to send me samples, pests or leaves with your question. Since the letters go through the mail, to the newspaper office, back in the mail and finally to my desk, the samples are in no shape to tell me anything. Squashed, rotting or dried-out specimens are not going to help me. A much better option is to send a photograph, either a computer file or a picture from your printer. So keep the questions coming and help me help you by providing clear pictures, good descriptions, information on plants affected and problems encountered.
In the garden
This week I did some indoor work. I found a nice copper container that will nicely hold my three moth orchids on the windowsill with my African violets. I kept the original orchid pots but masked them with a covering of sphagnum moss to create a unified appearance.
I also cleared the house entry. Since it has a skylight, it is the winter home for the biggest of our potted plants — a ponytail palm and an umbrella plant that I’ve had since my office job back in the ’90s.
Another important task for the gardener is having a proper place for your tools. I cleared out a utility room over the last few weeks, and found some tools I haven’t seen since we moved here in 2001. Now, I have heavy plastic shelving and shoe boxes with each type of tool—pruners and clippers, knives and sharpeners, hose repair, gloves and so on.
My amaryllis bulbs are indoors, in a darkened area, resting before they bloom this winter. Too bad with all this work done, I still have hours of weeding, garden cleanup and fall planting to do.
Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at grdnkpr@gmail.com or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, P.O. Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.
Week in the Garden
Use asters, kale, mums, winter pansies and other fall favorites to brighten the landscape.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs, garlic and shallots, asparagus and rhubarb, perennials, trees and shrubs.
Sow seeds that require a cold period for germination. Seasonal:
Dig up and store gladiolus bulbs. Dig and store other tender bulbs as the foliage is killed off by cold weather or frosts.
Allow plants to set seed as food for wildlife.
Shop nurseries for end-of-season bargains or new fall arrivals.
Cut back peony greens to about 3 to 4 inches tall.
Plan ahead, if you are purchasing a live potted or burlapped Christmas tree, find an appropriate planting spot, dig it out and store the soil, covered or in a container in the garage.Lawn:
Finish seeding, overseeding, dethatching and aerating lawns.
Apply broadleaf weed control now. Install sod through October.
Treat for grubs, chinch bugs and sod webworms.
Purchase fertilizer and apply by mid October
Cut as needed to a height of about 21/2 to 3 inches tall. Use a sharp blade.
Keep newly seeded or sodded lawns watered; supplement rain in weeks where less than an inch falls.
Fill in holes and low spots in lawn.
Watch for frosts and protect tender plants for a few more weeks of color.
Stop pruning.
Order or buy mulch for winter but do not apply until the ground freezes.
Store amaryllis bulbs in a cool dry area until they resprout in about 8 to 10 weeks.
Bring in tender plants for the winter.
Harvest crops regularly.
Remove spent plants from vegetable gardens and compost healthy ones.
Destroy or trash diseased or infested plants.
Water any new plantings and containers regularly, anytime we experience a week with less than an inch of rain.
Check caulking around doors and windows. Repair now to keep out mice, ladybugs and stinkbugs.
Repair or replace damaged screens and garden hoses.
Dump standing water. Remove any items that will collect water.
Provide deer, rabbit and groundhog protection for vulnerable plants.
Reapply taste or scent deterrents. Clean and fill bird feeders regularly.
Clean up spilled seed and empty hulls.
Dump, scrub and refill birdbaths at least once a week.
Clear gutters and direct rainwater runoff away from house foundations.
Tools, equipment, and supplies:
Inventory, clean, disinfect, restock and store seed starting and potting supplies.
Maintain summer equipment. Sharpen blades, get fresh gas, check and/or replace oil.
Check fall/winter equipment and replace or repair as needed.
Store cleaned and repaired summer tools.
Clear lawns before mowing. Keep everyone, especially small children and pets, away from area being mowed.
Store garden chemicals indoors away from pets and children. Discard outdated ones at local chemical collection events.
Photograph storm damage before clearing or repairing for insurance claims and file promptly.
Avoid tick and mosquito bites

Sue KittekGarden Columnist
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