Monday, April 18, 2016

How to Grow a Deer Resistant Garden

We have a lot of wildlife around us because the houses across the street are on the boundary line of a State forest, and we live in a lakefront cabin. We have to bring in our bird feeder in the warmer weather because of the bears that frequent our property, and there are deer...but the only time I had trouble with deer invading my gardens was during a time of drought. They were on their way down to the lake, and thought they'd stop and nibble off each one of my day lily flowers. If you have trouble with Deer in your garden, maybe this article written by Barbara Frerichs, and used with permission, will help.

Protecting Your Garden From Deer (Edited)

Each year, more and more homes are using only ornamental grass for their gardens. This may be due to the homeowner's love of grass, but it is most likely a result of homeowners who have just thrown up their hands year after year in exasperation over deer-decimated gardens.

Many homeowners give up after realizing that deer have feasted on everything in their garden, from flowering plants, Hostas, standard Arborvitae and Yew, which are the staples of their diet.

A deer-resistant garden does not have to as bland as one might think. With a bit of time, research and careful planning, a garden can be well-designed, colorful and deer-resistant without surrounding the property with a twenty-foot high fence. And since the deer density in some parts of the country can be high, nothing is completely deer-proof.

There are many old wives' tale remedies floating around, such as placing human hair in a stocking, hanging mirrors and foil, or spraying cayenne pepper over the ground, but you could also try a more logical route. The best place to start is with a complete service landscaper or favorite local nursery. Resources and experience have given them a wealth of knowledge. They know what plants are favorite snacks for deer and a good number of plants that they don't eat. They can work with you to develop a wonderful plan for a garden.

If the homeowner prefers to be more hands-on with the gardening, there are several fantastic resources available online. Both the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Rutgers University have lists of landscape plants rated by deer resistance.

In addition to the wide variety of ornamental grasses, there are many trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals available, which will safely add color and depth to any garden. Taking into account the soil and sunlight, along with water availability, one can create an amazing area and keep Bambi at bay.

It seems that highly aromatic plants deter deer, as do those that just taste bad to them. They are creatures of habit and experience, so they stay away from plants that have bothered them in the past. Anise, Aster, Daisies, Lemon Balm, Lily of the Valley, Irises, Ornamental Onion, Russian Sage and even Peonies fall into these categories.

Say goodbye to deer and hello to butterflies with a colorful Buddleia, commonly know as a Butterfly Bush. They are now available in a wide variety of colorful blooms. Even the beloved Hydrangea (I get a lot of grief for this one. Deer have been known to eat the new buds off Hosta plants, and the leaves in the fall. However, the more you have, the less damage they seem to do. It has become hit or miss with the hydrangea lately, a symbol of summer, and although not on the lists mentioned above, is deer resistant and readily obtainable in so many different varieties.) Also look at Cranesbill, Coreopsis and Campanula for instant color. How about Winter Gem Boxwoods and Japanese Barberry? These are two shrubs that will add color and depth to a low hedge or garden backdrop against a building or structure.

If there is a plant that you simply adore and must have in your garden, there are several ways to accomplish this. Plant it in the midst of plants that deer do not like. This creates an aromatic or taste-camouflaged barrier. Also, purchasing a spray-on deer repellent will increase the chance of keeping those plants from being eaten.

There are several repellents on the market, including Deer Stopper, which is all-organic and actually smells good. Deer Out is a natural product as well as Liquid Fence. Although one may last longer than another, no product is continuously effective. They all must be reapplied on an ongoing basis to offer protection. Any one of these procedures, including selective planting, would need to be carefully monitored in order to work well. Remember what works in one area may not work in another.

With the combination of the current deer overpopulation and ongoing land development in many areas, the situation we face with many hungry deer will not disappear anytime soon. Instead of being exasperated by the situation, we can take some time to plan and develop beautiful gardens.

About the author:
Barbara Frerichs, CLP, is a Certified Landscape Professional who is a true entrepreneur. At the time this article was originally written, the following titles linked to her sites, "Lion Landscaping of the Hamptons" and "The Landscaping Calendar". As of this 4/18/16 republishing of this post, the links no longer work. Perhaps one day the author will stop by and provide new links in the comment section.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Friday, November 6, 2015

Is the Fuel You Use Damaging your Outdoor Power Equipment?

This post brought to you by TRUFUEL®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Weeds and Seed Swap.

Though we are enjoying a very mild start to November in the Northeast, there is no doubt that winter is on the way. Our lawn mower may have done it's last mowing of the season. This weekend I hope our leaf blower will be put to work piling up the leaves that cover the yard, front and back, to be carried off to the woods across from our home. Our yard looks like the picture you see here. I do leave a layer of leaves over the garden beds.

In the past we have taken our trusty red plastic container to the gas station to fill and fuel some of our 2 and 4 cycle outdoor equipment. In the spring when it's time to start up the mower for the first time, it takes quite a few pulls to get her going. We never thought of the fact that the type of fuel we were using could be causing the problem.

Because of this, and the desire to take better care of our equipment that runs on fuel, it was interesting to learn the damaging affects that ethanol, which is in fuel from the gas station. We also learned that there is a fuel that can winter over in our equipment without separating and causing harm, and will give us a good start up when needed during or after storage in the winter cold.

Find out more about an engineered fuel that has been introduced to us at the link that starts this sentence. You'll discover several reasons why this is a superior product that will remain stable when stored up to 5 years, and 2 years after opening. Gasoline is only fresh for about a month which makes what seems like a bargain far from it. 

Find TRUFUEL on Twitter and learn more from tweets.

Find TRUFUEL on Facebook and "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on the latest information on how to use the product. Other readers share their thoughts about the TRUFUEL as well.

Fall Leaves Image Credit 
Now off to go make sure all of our lawn care tools are ready to work for us this weekend!

Visit Sponsors Site

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Jersey Fall Colors are Beginning to Show

I stepped out my back door and looked up to a beautiful sight, the top of one of our Maple trees is beginning to show vibrant colors that I captured with my camera for you, but the photo does not do justice to the real view.

The colors are beginning to change here in New Jersey, but right around our area, it is still very green. When I look across the lake from our deck, the hill on the other side is almost entirely green now. As I sit here typing on my laptop looking out the windows on the opposite side of our cabin with a cool breeze blowing on me, it is as if I am sitting under trees though inside. 

We have a Black Walnut outside my window that has been dropping walnuts for a while now. The acorn trees are dropping acorns in large numbers this year. Whether the quantity of acorns can be used to predict harsh winter weather or not, I do not know, I tend to think it happens in cycles....but I do know the squirrels are happy! Each morning at a certain time the pounding of the acorns on the roof increases as they are busy eating in the treetops.

Yes, Fall in the Northeast is a beautiful season, we hope you are enjoying it, and if you are ever passing through our State, take time to enjoy New Jersey's colorful fall foliage!

New Jersey Fall Foliage Tour - Video

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Hard to Kill Perennial Garden Herbs and Plants

The gardening season is getting closer to the end for this year in northern NJ, but that isn't stopping the heartier plants in my garden from growing, particularly when you consider how dry it has been this year. Today I want to share with you a list of plants and herbs in my garden that come up faithfully year after year, and are hard to kill.  If there is a blog post with more information about the plants, such as how to grow or medicinal properties if they are herbs, you can get to it by clicking your mouse on the name of the herb or plant:

  1. Sage - This is a perennial, that means that you plant it once, and it comes up each year.  In fact, in spite of the cold, when I remove the pile of leaves I have over this, most of the leaves from last season were still on the plant...and this is after a COLD winter.  You do have to replace this one as over time it gets "woody", I tend to cut it back quite a bit for as long as I can and see if it will put out new shoots.  This is a wonderful medicinal AND culinary herb. Pictured above is the sage in my garden.

  2. Lily of the Valley - This comes up every spring and usually blooms in May where we live. I have both the white and pink variety, which is somewhat less common than the white, so each year I sell batches of it on eBay in the spring to thin it down to the nice patch you'll see in the picture if you visit the link.  It will be interesting to see how it has spread it's runners over the winter and how many plants will be available to sell.  I love this plant, the smell of the flowers is just wonderful. There is more information about Pink Lily of the Valley here.

  3. Day Lilies (Daylilies) - In our front yard the shaft to our
    water well comes up out of the ground and is capped, around it I have planted Daylilies, the double orange variety that you see pictured here, and made a garden in the area.  These bloom in June or early July in the summer, and are just beautiful.

  4. Comfrey - This one grows in the same garden as the Daylilies, and can become rather large and shrub-like.  It has pretty purple flowers.  It has the reputation for being a hard one to get rid of if you don't want it somewhere, because even the smallest piece of a root left behind will form a new plant.  I chose to put the Comfrey in the same garden as the Daylilies because the soil is not the best and it takes a bit of work to take over the garden, so I haven't had a lot of trouble. 

  5. Oregano - This favorite culinary herb is so easy to grow, and I have an abundance of it each year.  I do snip the ends to keep it from flowering for part of the summer, then later in the summer, let it go to flower as the bees just love the flowers, and happy bees are so good for my garden as well as surrounding gardens.

  6. Mints - The mint plants are best put in a somewhat contained area, I let them spread and just pull up and use or give away what wanders out of the area it should be in the spring.  I love putting mint into my iced tea while brewing...just clean it well (small bugs like my mint too), then roll the leaves on the stem together between your palms (hands) to release the fragrant and flavorful oils, then put in your steeping tea. I sweeten mine with another herb called Stevia

  7. Catnip - Catnip is like Oregano and fact all of these plants are "related", part of the same family, so have similar growing patterns.

  8. Lemon Balm - Another like the above, I have had these coming up in my garden for so many years now I've lost count. It has a hint of lemon scent and flavor in the leaves.

  9. Chives - A wonderful culinary herb to add onion flavor to anything.  I use the greens throughout the spring and summer.  Here's a minor caution for you, each year mine gets pretty purple flowers on it.  My first year with the plants, I clipped the flower tops off when they died, then clipped a bunch of the chives to take in to cut into my salad...not realizing that the flower stems are terribly hard, and inedible.  Be sure when you remove the flowers to take them from the base of the stem so you don't make the same mistake.

  10. Strawberries - I have these in an old antique ceramic-coated wash basin on our deck.  These amazing plants had leaves from last season that remained for much of the winter, and are already putting out their new leaves.  Very hearty, and I look forward to a better crop of berries as we have more sun on the deck since they removed a couple of trees to install our new septic system.
These are just a few of the things that grow on my property, maybe you can share some of your favorites in a comment.

Updated 4/12/16