A cheap and reliable way to keep deer out of your orchard and vegetable garden

I have been battling deer in our orchard and vegetable garden for the past few years. The four legged monsters will sneak into our orchard and eat all the growth off of my young fruit trees, consume squash plants down to the base and don’t get me going on the sweet potato vines! I’ve tried numerous organic deterrents including plantskydd, ivory soap slivers and motion sensing lighting. The plantskydd worked OK but I still saw plenty of deer hits even when it was applied. The deer just scoffed at everything else I tried.

While catching up with the latest activity on the Growing Fruit forum I came across a post that suggested running fishing line around the perimeter of your orchard and garden to deter deer. The thought is that the deer can’t see the thin line at night and get spooked when they brush up against it. I’m not real sure if this is actually what happens but will make sure to ask Bambi the next time she stops over for dinner. 😉 So I spend a whopping $10 on some 10′ test fishing line and strung two lines around our property. One line sits at 3′ and the other at 5′. Here is the obligatory picture:

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I was seeing daily deer destruction prior to putting up the fishing line and haven’t seen a bit of damage since. The line went up well over a month ago and I have my fingers crossed that it continues to work.

Cheap and easy way to keep orchard weeds in check

Two years ago I watched the amazing back to eden documentary. The authors discussed the benefits of wood chips and how they enhance the soil. The results in the video were amazing so I decided to implement something similar in our orchard. Prior to starting our orchard was filled with a mixture of weeds, clover and various types of grass. If I just put down wood chips everything would just grow right back through and I would have a massive mess. So I needed to come up with a way to snuff them out and prevent seeds from germinating the following year.

I was discussing this with one of my co-workers at lunch and he said he had amazing luck using old cotton bed sheets. They are permeable and natural so I decided to give is a try. We asked our friends and neighbors for old sheets and cleaned out a bunch of unused sheets we had been squirreling away in our linen closet. I also spend about $20 on old sheets at the salvation army. After collecting enough sheets I set out on Saturday morning to lay 2 layers of sheets everywhere I saw green stuff growing. Here is a picture taken halfway through this project:

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The sheets were then covered with roughly 10 cubic yards of wood chips from a local tree service to keep them in place. To keep our turf grass separated from the orchard we installed a stone edge between the grass and the newly mulched orchard. The results so far have been fantastic! The stone edging looks awesome and very few weeds have grown back. Most of the sheets have now been devoured by worms so the wood chips can now start to break down naturally. Now to reap the benefits!

Why don’t people grow more fruit trees?

This question has peaked my mind for several years now. Is it because of laziness? Not sure what to grow? “I don’t have a green thumb” syndrome? Too hard? I’m heard all of these answers from my friends and it’s unfortunate that more people don’t add fruit trees to their property. They produce fruit. They look gorgeous in bloom. And numerous varieties provide AMAZING landscape value.

I’ve been adding fruit trees and bushes to our property for the past several years. It’s amazing how easy fruit trees are to grow and there is NOTHING better than biting into a piece of fruit that was just picked! This past year I was blown away by our 2-year old nectaplum. It produced 30 – 40 pieces of fruit and that was after we thinned a TON of fruit! Just look at these scrumptious things:

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I’ve done little to nothing to this tree and it still thanked me with these yummy treats! Next year will hopefully be a bumper year for fruit production and I’ll try to chronicle our growing experiences here. Hopefully by showing folks how easy it is to grow fruit trees we can get a few more planted. Bon appetite!