Farm Beginnings is the chronicle of a city girl starting to farm. Last installment Corinna spoke to why she farms. Today she speaks of farming with deer and boxwoods.
Farming with deer might bring visions of Bambi and all of his cousins running around a field prior to harvest into delicious venison steaks. That is not what I am talking about. No, farming with deer is growing goodies I want to eat/enjoy without having the deer demolish them first.
I have a very complicated relationship with deer. I love to watch them run and jump and whisk their tales and yes, I have seen Bambi. Yet I feel the anthropomorphization of the deer population by Disney has adversely affected the biodiversity of our forests. I also like eating them – they are a good source of protein (free range anyone?) and delicious.
Part of planning where to plant goodies on the land involves protecting them from the deer. Deer like to eat most everything in the garden I want to eat and certainly many of the ornamental plants that I would like to smell and look at.
My first step is to plant boxwoods, a trick I learned from Toby Hemenway’s book, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Deer don’t like boxwoods. According to a recent NY Times article, “boxwood contains alkaloids that are toxic to deer.” (and a small side note for me to thank them for such a great title). I plan to use boxwood as a fence.
Boxwoods appeal to me for several reasons. They are evergreen, we are renting in an apartment that has many full grown specimens of the slow-growing plant, and I was curious to try propagating from cuttings. I know I am going to be needing a lot of them to make a shield of any utility and the idea of purchasing 50 plants at 20 dollars each was not exciting.
I read recently a book that described a woman who started her arboretum, now filled with 70 foot trees, from seed. “It was cheaper, and she was quite frugal, which is considered sustainable today. She would trade seeds. As she said, plants people share; antiques people don’t share.”
Inspired to be frugal, I purchased Dip N’Grow, and following the directions snuck out very early 2 months ago to barely prune the boxwoods around my apartment. I dipped them into the solution and popped them into the earth. As I lifted the small cuttings from the soil this morning, I did not see any indication of root growth – but Martha Stewart says that it can take up to 3 months.
Besides, it is more fun to sneak out in the early morning before my neighbors are up to take cuttings than to contemplate the cost of a deer fence.