Monday, January 4, 2010

An Orange a Day keeps the Deer Away

We've all heard the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". Well, I would like to teach you a new one: "An orange a day keeps the deer away".



We have lots of Mule deer where I live, and they love to visit the gardens.  And, as much as I love nature and wildlife, I don't like it when deer eat my flowers and veggies. So, I have my own way of repelling deer, and it doesn't involve spraying chemicals, mixing garlic and onions, stinky coyote urine, putting up fences, or spending lots of money.  It's also good for me, organic, is sustainable, and supports reuse.  It's orange peels.


Mule deer in the backyard - sometimes there are 14 at a time.

Orange peels are probably not what you would think of when looking for deer repellent, and they are certainly not a research-based solution (although my research tells me otherwise). But, here in my gardens, as well as some of my clients, they seem to work wonders at keeping the deer from eating the plants. My method is simple: I take the orange peels, not orange pieces or whole oranges, rip them into about 2 -3 inch pieces, and scatter them around in my garden beds and at the edges of the paths.  By using only the peels I avoid animals coming into the yard to eat the orange meat itself, and the peels decompose slowly so I don't have to reapply my deer repellent very often.





Sometimes I can get within a foot of the deer, as in this picture.

I realize that many of you are probably thinking by now that my method seems very odd, but what's not to like about it?  You don't have to spray every time it rains, most of us eat oranges or know someone that does, the orange peels don't have any chemicals to harm the environment, it's a completely organic solution, and you don't have to spend any money that you haven't already spent for food. 


The deer don't eat these lilies, even though they are right along the path.

So if you have a deer problem, why not give it a try?  The next time you eat an orange, take the peels out to the garden, and see what happens.  If you currently use other methods, try this as a test case in a small area.  If it works, you have a better way to deter deer.  If not, you haven't done any harm to the earth.  And if you think I am "fruity" well that's ok too.  You wouldn't be the first person.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you for your posting. I have such trouble with deer eating my flowers and my new lilies. I also planted many more this fall and was wondering what else I could try to keep them away. I will try them for sure. With the nylon twine trick and the orange peels maybe they will not eat them this year.

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  2. What a great natural solution! We don't have deer problems, but javelina (wild pigs) can be a nuisance.

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  3. Hello out there! Problems with deers-none, but we had a deer visiting our neighbourhood last year. Sounds like a good ide you got with your ecologic strategy. About what you commented the snow is really getting deep-yes. Thank you for your words!

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  4. Hey, what a clever eco-friendly idea! Might be worth testing out on my moose and elk, too. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I love this idea! I wonder if it might work on other critters - I don't have a problem with deer, but squirrels and rabbits like my veggies as much as we do. Thanks for the tip.

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  6. Great idea! I hate the taste of orange peel too..but never really thought that a deer that would eat birch bark in winter would feel the same way! love the natural solutions ...thank you

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  7. Thanks for the tip Kathy. I am desperate enough to try it. Could it work for elk as well?
    Rosey

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  8. Thanks to you all for your visit and questions.

    The elk and moose I am not sure of, but it might work, since it is the smell that deters them. As far as rabbits and squirrels, I have seen the squirrels here pick up a piece of orange peel, put it in their mouth and spit it out. It doesn't keep them out of the gardens though. The rabbits unfortunately seem the least affected, although they stay away for a little bit when I first put the peels down.

    The nice thing about the oranges is that you can put it out even in the snow, not like the sprays and powders.

    Let me know if you try it and what your results are!

    Kathy

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  9. Thanks for the orange peel tip. I will use it! I actually use orange peel to keep a poorly cared for neighbors cat from pooping on my little bit of lawn.(I have removed most of the lawn) He doesn't even try to cover which is odd for a cat. I sprinkle the orange peel on the lawn or newly tilled veggie beds. I'm gonna hafta eat more oranges!

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  10. It sounds like you are "living in a potpourri." I have seen orange peels left on stove tops till they dry out, all the while imparting the air with their fragrance. Orange peels strewn about inside (to start a potpourri) and out it is, then.

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  11. Wow, that's fascinating! I will definitely use this information with clients. Thankfully I don't have to worry about them in my own garden (knock on wood, I've never worried about them in 30+ years of gardening; must mean I'm overdue for them!).

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  12. I will certainly try this in my front garden this spring. Thanks for the tip.

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  13. I have never heard of this method. Thanks, I'll try it. I put out oranges for the birds anyway, so why not use those peels?

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  14. What about other citrus fruits? I used to hear that lemon peels would repel cats in the garden (a bigger problem than deer in New York City)!

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  15. I wanted to give you an update on some of the other citrus fruits you might be eating. I love Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit, and they are in season at this time of year. After I eat the fruit and drink the juice, I throw the halves of the grapefruit around the yard. This is working great also. I have not tried lemons or limes, so if anyone does, please let me know!

    Kathy

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  16. I recommend using Deer Off. It’s natural, organic and effective. Plus, it’s more powerful than other brands. I’ve been using it with great success. The label says it lasts for 3 months, but I live in a rainy area so I do it every 45 days. Still, that’s not a lot!

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  17. From my experience, homemade remedies do little. Except take up a lot of your time. I highly recommend Defence by Havahart. It’s all natural and organic. And it’s more powerful than other brands.
    Here's where you can it:
    http://www.havahart.com/store/animal-repellents/5600

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  18. James and Vickie,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your opinions. Yes, some sprays do seem to help with the deer and the rabbits, but I don't recommend them for several reasons:

    1) You have to spray them on the plants. For a few plants this is fine, for 1000s it's too time consuming and can damage different types of plants.

    2) You have to reapply them everytime it rains real hard for them to have 100% effectiveness.

    3) Everytime you buy a new bottle, it costs a lot of money to cover a small area of the gardens. For example, I would have to buy between 15 - 20 bottles of Defence to cover all of my plants. That would cost me upwards of $210 at least twice a year. OTOH I could spend about 6 dollars and have enough orange peels/rinds to keep the deer away. That leaves me almost $200 dollars to buy more plants!

    4) All the packaging the comes with the sprays (bottles, shipping boxes, etc) does not have to be recycled or thrown away because I haven't used it!

    So, my orange peel idea is just another way for people to try and keep the deer away, not research based, but worth a try!

    Kathy

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  19. We tried this. One mulie buck started coming into the garden just to eat the orange peels. We watched him eat them all. So, it just depends on what your local deer like and dislike. Ours have a tendency to eat anything. He was nibbling on the oregano too.

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