I wandered up to the garden to take a look around last Thursday. It's a mess. Last fall, I ran out of time and energy to keep up with weeds and also to clean up after frost killed off everything. I did get a chance to get the last of the leeks out in November, and was rewarded with having our last batch of potato leek soup in January. But this is what it looks like now.
The relatively clean rows closest to you are the strawberry beds, except for the closest bed which is asparagus and some rhubarb. The deer have done a pretty good job of tromping in the mulch that was on the beds and eating a lot of the mulch pile in the bottom right corner. Beyond the strawberry beds is the area formerly home to beans, broccoli, lettuce, etc. etc.
These fences held up my cucumber plants last year. This area isn't too scary and most of the mulch is still in place.
My dad was cleaning out the barn and brought up a lot of old hay for me to use as mulch. Unfortunately, he brought it up last fall, so guess what... we've been feeding the deer all winter.
This picture of scat and prints supplies evidence of the local deer's favorite hangout. Most of the garden is covered with it. I guess in return for feeding them, I have to admit the deer have been providing fertilizer. :-P
Last year we got half of the deer fence in place. This spring we are finishing it! (NO MATTER WHAT!) Around the perimeter of the garden (which includes three 30 strips, each 250 feet long--one strip "rests" each year) we are putting 5 foot high welded wire fence. I know this alone will do little to deter these jumpers, but will do a lot to keep the coon out come corn season. About 4-5 foot outside the welded wire fence will be 2 strands of electric at 6 inches and 3 feet. In my experiences (note the mulch left relatively untouched in between the cucumber fences) and research, I have discovered that deer can jump amazing vertical heights, BUT they don't like to jump into narrow spaces, or into an area that they are uncertain of. My hopes are that the electric wire will make them think twice about clearing a 5 foot fence that is placed 4 feet in front of them. If that doesn't take care of it, then we will attach posts to the top of our wooden posts and string electric above the welded wire. We will also attach shiny things to blow around in the wind. Seem extreme??? Well, this is war, folks. This is all-out war! I have lost too many strawberry plants to count; the evil creatures have been known to stomp on ripe watermelons to eat out the insides, cleaned off the outer cuke fences of vines, and bit the centers out of cabbages and lettuces. They dearly LOVE sugar snap peas and will nose through the vines finding every last one. So, the deer MUST be stopped.
So, as soon as it dries out a bit more, I know where I'll be spending most of my time. I better head to the store to get a few more pairs of work gloves!