Deer Gardener: Beans, bees, and Slug-Be-Gone

By Elaine Nyeholt

When June settles into its better-behaved self, it really is a lovely month. The month to dig and plant, weed and tend to the yard’s wildness. May worked well for some basic vegetables too, but my yard was neglected due to my Osoyoos trip.

I am always tempted to whack the salmon berry bushes back in June, but that is plain bad timing. Another month works better, after the crop is yummed down. A “berry walk” with the family is such a splendid way to spend a few hours. Thoroughly pruning them at the end of July gives the bush time to send out new growth for next year’s fruit at a more manageable height. They also provide a green border around the yard for a windbreak.

The strawberries on the beaches will be ready soon, too. Somehow even the sand devoured with them is considered okay, like hotdogs eaten at the beach that would be rejected at home. It must be our primal food-gathering instincts that permit eating without washing and hulling, and wieners dropped in the sand then wiped off and scarfed down anyway. We’re getting our pound of dirt, or so the theory goes.

June is the time to get those bean fences up and secured for the huge growth that comes once the plants take off. I’ve read that beans like to grow near potatoes, so I’m planting a row down the centre of my potato bed. Perhaps this will be lamented come picking time, but fun to try something new anyway. The potatoes will be dying down I hope.

Bees are everywhere right now, especially in the strawberry and raspberry beds. I am surprised the raspberries are blooming so early this year. The strawberry bed got an extra weeding and thinning out in April. What a difference from last year when I just didn’t get to thinning them.

Remember to be generous with the Slug-Be-Gone around the strawberry bed. I mentioned this product last year, but will recap that it is the same product used to take the moss out of our lawns (if we were that concerned about moss). It is just Ferrous Sulphate and does not harm pets or anything else. The slugs are drawn to it, eat it and lose their appetite, thus perishing, and leaving our berries alone. An application lasts for about two weeks and works best on damp ground… that works really well for me. Put some around the borders of your vegetable patch to catch the slugs before they make it to the lettuce, for peace of mind. If you can eliminate a percentage of mature slugs now, generations will not invade us.

With June come the roses. Deer LOVE roses! I have found that covering the parts the deer can reach with black plastic netting is very effective in deterring them. I put it on like wrapping around a bouquet of cut flowers, and then secure it with wooden skewers. It does get disturbed often so I know the deer have been trying to get at them.

The same type of netting can be secured around young fruit trees. Deer eat the bark and or scratch the velvet off their horns on the trunks of trees, which allows bugs to get under the bark and cause galls, etc. It is readily available at Ranch Feeds.

A new roof on my greenhouse gives me an awesome amount of light in there this year. Feeling happy, perhaps a little smug at hiding from the cold winds and rains of the early part of this month, I planted my two lovely large cucumber plants that my friend had cared for while I was travelling.

They did well until I emptied the bottom of a watering can on them from last year, and realized a couple of days after that it was vinegar water from weed eliminating. Do guard against smugness! It’ll wipe out your cucumber plants. Very sad, lesson learned… for this season.

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