Oh Deer, the Heat!

Spring is fast approaching, oh wait, it’s here. We’ve been experiencing very warm days already and it still surprises me to turn on the TV and see it is still snowing in other parts of the country. I’m behind on getting things planted and a lot of the fruit trees that are still in pots are starting to really grow.

Back to that in a bit, the bigger problem here is still the wildlife. Over the last few months I’ve planted a few new areas including the banana circles and a Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) mound. Turns out deer really like these, they’ve been tramping through the new mounds and eating the tops of the plants.

Deer tracks

Here’s a banana plant where the top  has been chewed along with some of the leaves, the plants are starting to grow faster now so they have recovered quite a bit. When this first happened it was chewed down to the stalk.

Banana damage from deer

The long term plan is to fence a majority of the property. We will leave a corridor in the back so wildlife can still pass through from property to property, the front fence will also be setback so there will be open space there as well. We have already contracted a fence company to do the front and 40 feet along the sides with a 3 rail fence and gate, the remainder of the sides and back will be a deer & wildlife fence that I will install. In addition, garden areas will have their own fencing to keep the inside animals out such as our chickens and dogs and will act as a secondary barrier for anything else that still manages to get in past the other fence.

For deer control now, I’m trying an experiment with some solar powered motion lights. I got a 3 pack of these from Sams club for $20 so they are a little over $6 each. Here’s what one of these looks like mounted to a tree:

Motion sensor closeup

And a view further back for scale. The light is mounted about 6 feet up.

Motion sensor on tree

As you can see, these are pretty small and after reading the fine print turns out they only have about a 10 foot activation zone. I tested these at night by walking around and unfortunately that is pretty accurate so they will not give the coverage needed. I’m ordering these from Amazon as replacements as they claim a 26 foot detection range. I’ll reuse the other ones around the chicken coop and aquaponics area and also give a review of the new lights once tested.

Back to the subject of the heat, I had taken the shade cloth down from the garden for the cooler months but it is already time to put it back up. I use a 40% shade cloth which gives pretty good results, I’m able to grow just about everything right through the worst parts of summer. There will be a new garden area created later this year that will also have some natural shading from oak trees that shed their leaves in the winter.

Garden shade cloth

The shade cloth is fairly inexpensive, especially if you compare it to the cost of a greenhouse. The framing is made up of 1 5/8 inch chain link fence toprail and pre-made connectors. I’ll put some links at the end with the sources I’ve used, all were bought online with the exception of the toprail since the 10 foot sections would be cost prohibitive to ship. I found a local supplier for the connectors and bought one as a test, it was rusted within a month so I went with mail order.

Garden shade cloth bracket

Assemble is fairly easy, I used a low peak design. Last year when we had hurricane Irma come through I removed the shade cloth but left the rest of the structure up and had no problems with it. Each leg is weighted down by a single concrete block attached by rope and that has also held up well and the connectors have shown no signs of rust after a year. I’d say the only real drawback so far has been that some of the pipe is sagging, not surprising since I am using 10 foot sections tied together for a 20 foot span. They do have connectors that can be used with additional bracing but since this is temporary I went the cheaper route.

Shade product links:
40% Black Shade Cloth 10×20 ft
6 inch Ball Bungee
9 inch Ball Bungee
Canopies and Tarps low peak fittings and if you order from Canopies and Tarps check out their coupons page.

That’s it for now, I’ve got some fun projects coming up including a lot of product and growing comparisons. Until next time, keep on planting!

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