Friday, June 29th, 2018
While we can certainly appreciate the natural beauty of a deer stepping through a forest or quietly making its way across the prairie, deer and gardens definitely do not mix. Deer are not uncommon in Winnipeg backyards, and although deterring them from eating your plants and trees can be tricky, there are a few tips and products that will help you prevent your yard from becoming a feeding ground for our wildlife neighbours.
The only sure thing
The only sure and permanent way to keep deer out is to construct a fence, but if you’re looking to completely eliminate the chance of a deer jumping the fence, it needs to be not only sturdy but at least seven-and-a-half to eight-feet high. Obviously, this is a big investment and many of us just don’t want to go to those lengths (or should we say heights?!), particularly when a large property is involved. This is where deterrent products come in, which can be very effective when used properly.
Keep deer away by staying one step ahead
Deer are surprisingly undiscriminating when it comes to what they will eat, and they’re also extremely adaptive. Because deer typically don’t travel far distances over their lifetimes, there’s a good chance that those you see in your yard from time to time are repeat visitors. This all means that the key to warding off deer is to vary the types of deterrents you are using, rotating them throughout the season and changing tacts often so that your neighborhood deer do not get used to the products you’re using. We recommend using Bobbex, which deters by taste, and Plantskydd, which deters by smell, intermittently starting in the spring. Another variation to add to the mix is an electronic deterrent like Yard Gard, which is motion-activated to produce ultrasound waves that deter deer and other animals. Whatever products you use, the key is to mix it up and start early in the season – remember that prevention is a lot easier than interrupting an established pattern!
It’s nice to know that in addition to being effective, these products are also completely safe for your family and pets, and don’t harm deer in any way either.
Deer-resistant plants are a guideline, but not a rule
It’s true that deer tend to avoid plants that are sticky, rough, or fuzzy, and plants with spiny protection. They also dislike fragrant leaves or a pungent flavour. However, any list of “deer-resistant” plants should be taken with a grain of salt, because if hungry enough, deer will eat almost any plant. As we’ve already mentioned, they’re also very good at adapting and will overcome their preferences if it means an easy meal, particularly when nothing better is readily available. So, just because a plant wouldn’t be a deer’s first choice, doesn’t mean it won’t end up suffering the fate of their more expected targets.
You can see a list of plants that deer are not attracted to right here. It may help to use these plants on the perimeter of your garden, leaving the plants deer enjoy well within. Keeping wild, grassy areas trimmed and cleaned can also prevent deer from being tempted to bed down.
Protecting your trees
Deer are notorious for eating cedars and evergreens in the winter, when nutrients are scarce, or stripping the leaves off of young trees that you are trying to get established in the summer months. To protect your trees, create a perimeter around them with stakes and securely wrap wire mesh (such as chicken wire) around the stakes. Be sure to create a wide enough perimeter that deer can’t simply eat the foliage right through the mesh.
We know it can be frustrating, but with a little patience and persistence, your yard and garden can co-exist with the deer passing through it. If you need additional tips or resources, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’re always happy to help.
Sunday, May 6th, 2018
Make a plan, stick with it, and watch your garden flourish!
When colour giant Pantone declares its annual Color of the Year, everyone from fashion leaders to interior designers take notice, and before long we start to see the colour all around us. We were overjoyed and very much on board when Ultra Violet got top honours for 2018, because purple just happens to be one of our favourite colours in the garden!
It’s no secret that colours have serious power – take a look at how the beautiful blooms you choose can affect things like mood and energy here – but our love for purple goes beyond the aesthetic. Fruits and vegetables of this hue have been linked to many health benefits that prevent disease and enhance our wellness.
Studies indicate that antioxidants produced by purple power foods can:
- reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- lower cholesterol
- help prevent obesity and diabetes
- assist in lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases
- reduce inflammation and therefore chronic disease
- aid cognitive functions
- help prevent urinary tract infections, fight ulcers, and reduce liver damage and diseases which affect cell development
So with all of that in mind, here are a few of our favourite ways to put some purple on our plates!
Purple Ruffles Basil
Why we love it: The large purple leaves of this basil plant have both a strong fragrance and flavour.
How to serve: We recommend using this basil to create colourful and flavourful herb vinegars.
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Why we love it: Who says you can’t mess with an old favourite? These beautiful carrots will not only make your side dishes more lovely, the flesh is also particularly sweet.
How to serve: Try it cooked in a side dish, or add some colour and variety to snack time and enjoy raw.
Red Ball Brussel Sprouts
Why we love it: These little beauties are sweeter than your average brussel sprout, and pack an even heavier nutritional punch.
How to serve: Pull the leaves apart for a lovely salad, serve whole drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce, or go with a classic roasted method to get these on your table.
Pomegranate Crunch Romaine Lettuce
Why we love it: Is the name enough reason? Think of this lettuce as a cross between romaine and butterhead varieties.
How to serve: The salad possibilities are endless!
Honeyberry or Haskap
Why we love it: The first reason to love this berry is its sheer hardiness; this plant was made for the Canadian prairies, just like us. The second reason is that nutritional studies show the haskap to have antioxidant levels similar to or perhaps even greater than blueberries! The plant attracts butterflies to your yard, and the berries are delicious.
How to serve: Eat fresh, or make preserves.
Ruby Mizuna Mustard
Why we love it: It looks pretty and tastes great, but a major reason to love this plant is how easy and versatile it is to grow. Expect great results in cooler soil and winter harvests, in outdoor containers, or right in your kitchen.
How to serve: This plant makes for tasty microgreens or delicious and nutritious salads.
Why we love it: This grape is perfect for making wine… need we say more? Aside from its edible properties, it also makes a great landscaping component for hedges and screening.
How to serve: Try your hand at making juice or wine!
Long Purple Eggplant
Why we love it: The eggplant is such a beautiful purple that “eggplant” has become a colour in its own right. This particular variety is productive and hardy.
How to serve: Try in a stir-fry, or roasted in the oven.
Purple Peacock Pole Beans
Why we love it: These beans are a triple threat! They flower and produce quickly, provide an extremely prolific yield – as long as you pick them, they’ll keep coming in – and they retain flavour extremely well after being picked. Basically there are no reasons NOT to love them.
How to serve: Any way you enjoy green beans will translate – we like these lightly steamed!
Why we love it: Ah, the saskatoon, that uniquely prairie berry. Like its cousin the haskap, this plant is hardy and versatile, and the berries are lovely but also delicious.
How to serve: If you’ve never had saskatoon pie, you’re not really living. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but it really is a must-try!
Why we love it: This beautiful plant produces clusters of lovely little blueberries that are sweet and juicy. So long as you get the soil and drainage formula right, you can expect a bumper crop from this plant.
How to serve: Really, you can enjoy these in almost any way. Sprinkle them fresh on cereal, salads, or ice cream, mix up blueberry pancakes, bake in pies or crisps, make jellies, jams, and preserves… the list is endless!
Some cultures consider purple to be the colour of royalty, and it’s not hard to see why! Add this shade to your garden and your table, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like a king.
Long live purple!
Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
By golly spring has sprung! It’s hard to believe that just overnight we’ve burst into bud and bloom! An exceptionally warm, early spring like this doesn’t come our way very often, and as glorious as it feels, it also catches us gardeners a little off guard. We’re tempted to frantically plant our tomato plants and herb baskets, and to pot up our containers with colorful annuals and perennials. But remember, Mother Nature is a quirky lady, and she may have a cold spell or even a frost up her sleeve! In our area, we’ve experienced frost as late as June 7, a tragedy for newly planted bedding plants.
So what’s a gardener to do with an early spring?
Take this time to start from the ground up. We suggest amending the soil in your beds by adding compost and manure. Thatch, aerate and topseed your lawn. Check your garden tools and tune up your mower – are they sharpened and ready for action? Taking care of these fundamentals before you begin planting will ensure that you have a successful gardening season with thriving plants. And if you just can’t wait to see some colorful flowers, play it safe by potting up some cold-tolerant pansies or a few fresh hanging baskets that are easy to bring indoors in case a frost threatens.
Patience is a gardener’s virtue!