Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Oh Deer! Something is eating my vegetable garden!

Deer-resistant groundcovers needn't just sit there and look pretty. Many herbs make excellent groundcovers and bring much more than just visual interest to the landscape. Besides being ornamental, herbs can have culinary and medicinal uses, for example. The herbs I will discuss here are all aromatic -- but not to deer, who refuse to eat them precisely because of their fragrance. Think of growing catnip or creeping thyme as sort of a reverse aromatherapy for deer control!

Catnip, also called "catmint" (Nepeta cataria), may not be aromatic to deer, but humans find its fragrance pleasing. To our cats, of course, catnip can be more than merely fragrant: Catnip plants can be pure ecstasy for our feline friends! In fact, catnip seems to be one of the few things cats aren't fussy about. They're just as happy rolling around in it as they are ingesting it, and it doesn't seem to matter to them whether this herbal delight is fresh or dried.

But catnip is not just for cats -- it has medicinal uses, as well. Tea made from the leaves and flowers of this herbaceous perennial has traditionally been imbibed to relieve coughs, for instance.

Sun or part shade is best for growing catnip, and it is not overly particular about soil conditions, so long as the soil is well-drained and slightly alkaline. It can be grown in zones 3-9. Catnip can attain a size of 3' x 3'. Thus it is best to cut it back if it is being used as a groundcover, to keep it short and promote a bushier, more compact form. Just give the cuttings to your cats -- and enjoy their antics.

Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has an unforgettable fragrance, is drought-tolerant and tends to stay shorter than catnip and sweet woodruff (about 6" x 6"). It is an herbaceous perennial in zones 5-9. Although it does flower, it is for its delicate foliage, culinary uses and aromatic quality that it is cultivated. Thyme likes full sun and good drainage. For a picture of thyme, see the photo above on your right.

An ideal groundcover to plant in the cracks of a flagstone patio or stone walkway, or between garden stepping stones, is common thyme's relative, Woolly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus). Woolly thyme is one of the creeping varieties of thyme.

As you can see from the foregoing remarks, you have a wide variety of groundcovers from which to choose when deer control is an issue. There are groundcovers for areas scorched by sun, and groundcovers suitable for shady nooks. Some plants grow knee-high, others won't poke their heads above your ankles. Whether you want a pretty bloom or a culinary herb, there's a groundcover that will suit your taste -- but not the deer's! Source

Fencing the entire garden is also very helpful. I will be doing just that. as well as planting Catnip and Thyme (both very good nectar sources for Honey bees). And since I have Rabbits I will have to re-fence the lower part of the wooden fence with a chicken wire.

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