deer fodder

Judy Glattstein
Sat, 21 May 2005 10:22:01 PDT
"Know your enemy" is my mantra here on Creek Road where the deer peer in 
the kitchen windows, perhaps seeking coffee to go with the salad bar.

A state game biologist in Connecticut once told me that if you 
fertilized just two rows in the center of a 2 acre bean field that the 
deer would eat the fertilized rows for preference. So yes, nutritional 
value is a factor. Pregnant and nursing does eat the new growth on roses 
in my garden, but once the does  stop lactating, leave the rose bushes 
alone. Look at a deer skull (flip it upside down, and you don't need the 
mandible) and you'll see there are no teeth to the rear, and there's a 
nice hollow about where we have our soft palate - I guess that's how 
deer manage thorny things like roses, and perhaps even stringy things 
such as yucca (which I am convinced they use like floss after eating 
softer, juicier plants.).

Deer, so I've been told, do not digest their food with stomach acids as 
we do. Instead, they have enzymes, which vary from herd to herd 
depending on what they eat. Does teach their fawns what mommy finds 
palatable, and the young ones generally follow family tradition. But if 
they start eating something new the enzyme composition will alter. So 
deer can be adaptable to what's available.

Fritillaria imperialis and F. meleagris are untouched in my garden. 
Amaryllidaceae must be highly unpalatable / poisonous, since they are 
generally uneaten, as are many Ranunculaceae.

Other categories of plants usually passed over in favor of tastier 
items: those with highly flavored / scented foliage = most herbs. Fuzzy 
leaves = lamb's ears, Stachys byzantina, and even, I can testify, 
Rhododendron yakusimanum. Ferns. Ornamental grasses.

Milorganite is my preferred repellent at this time of year. Since it is  
odoriferous, and I scatter the little beads on the ground, it remains 
effective as plants continue to grow. Anything sprayed on the plants 
must A) be reapplied as plants grow, and B) be reapplied after a heavy rain.

Gardening is such a joy. <grin>

Judy, who having finished lunch is headed back out to the garden

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