Sibling Assignment #19: Gardening Disasters

The sibling writing assignment this week is “A Gardening Disaster”. You will find my siblings’ assignments here now and here soon. Since the three of us have done our share of gardening and watched a brown yard turn into a gardening marvel at our childhood home, but along with plentiful harvests come disasters. I had to share more than one. As I began to embrace gardening seriously many organic tips were passed on to me. I also took on the role of “ the garden pruner” back then. Alas, disasters occurred.
Gardening Disaster #1: Deer Deterrent.
When we saw the remains of some chrysanthemums one fall day we knew the deer had enjoyed a midnight snack. We decided to fight back. Wisely I didn’t use the raw egg/ pepper mixture because I read it may attract skunks. Another seasoned gardener said Irish Spring soap was the answer. We hung bars of the strong smelling soap on bushes, trees, and the fence close to the gate the deer jumped over. After a few days we figured out it wasn’t going to work. Every time we turned around one of our dogs was spitting and foaming at the mouth as a bar of Irish Spring came flying out it bits and pieces.
“No Emily… it is not a loaf of bread.”
“ No Lucy, it will not help with the odor of the dead animal you rolled in.”
“ It is okay Bluey… you didn’t need to wash your mouth out with soap.”
While picking up pieces of soap we knew there were deer in the bushes grinning. The rest of the mum blossoms were gone the next day and I got a bit tired of the dogs carrying in that “fresh, clean feeling of an Irish countryside” on their breath.
Gardening Disaster #2: Soil Amendments and Dogs
As you have often read on this blog I had to do serious soil amending when I began gardening. Did Mr. Organic Gardener Rodale not have dogs? Lessons were learned the hard way as we tried enriching our soil. Bone meal is an excellent amendment to add to the soil when planting bulbs. It is also suggested to add it again after the bulbs bloom in the spring. With three dogs that thought this amendment was a bone they buried the fall before, we kissed our tulips good-bye. Our dogs had bulbs up out of the soil, moved to new locations, and missing in one day. Yes, I know some bulbs are poisonous. Our dogs seemed to fare well. It was not surprising when tulips popped up the following spring behind the wood shed. As least they didn’t smell like Irish Spring!
Gardening Disaster #3: Inland Empire Girl, Pruning Shears, and dear Virginia
To add color to our gardens early on JEJ wanted to plant vines. As vines grew up posts, trees, and rails they added color and variety to the space. He loved Virginia Creepers, but this vine had a hard time getting started up the trees. One spring day I was deadheading flowers and pruning dead branches when I snipped the Virginia Creeper. He had been training that creeper for weeks to grow up the pine tree. All that was left was a little sprout and a couple of leaves. Yikes! I had to think fast. My mind raced as I asked, “ Do I get duct tape, fix it and hope he doesn’t notice? Can I try grafting it together in some way? Would a big pot in front of it cover the damage?”
I kept up with my garden chores that afternoon watching the snipped part go limp. JEJ walked up to his dear vine and gasped. “What happened to my Virginia Creeper?” I looked at him sheepishly.
“I was deadheading the Dame’s Rockets and accidentally beheaded Virginia. The pruning shears just slipped!” Believe it or not that vine has crept all the way up that pine tree now. “You just can’t keep a good creeper down", quoted my husband. Whew!

The Virginia Creeper on the tree in our yard today!


  1. We don't have a deer problem here. I shouldn't have said that. And the Chows have never been interested in bone meal. Maybe because all our beds are raised and of a soil blend? Already the soil is phoney so they don't even bother with the bone meal? dunno. Virginia Creeper: omi! that pruning probably gave it heart. to go along with its guts. and blood. :)

  2. Our deer problem has gone away since two neighbors removed their feeders and our younger dogs we have now are a bit more spirited! The raised beds probably help you. We only have raised beds in one garden. Also, your chows are probably better behaved.

  3. Laughed about your dogs eating the Irish Spring Soap. I can just imagine the foamy mouths. At least they don't eat plastic grocery bags like my sister's dogs. (My brother-in-law usually has to help the dogs rid themselves of the bags - since they don't exit well on their own. - Yea, Too Much Information!)

    Back to Irish Spring soap. . .I dated a guy for a while that used Irish Spring, it was so strong. . .it lingered on his skin all day. I have never been able to bring myself to buy it since. (It makes my nose itch just to think of the smell.)

  4. You know, I was thinking about the Irish Spring when I ended that part- perhaps adding a guy coming out of a locker room or something because I had the same experience. I hate the smell and am glad my husband doesn't use it! It is strong! That is why it is supposed to work for deer. :)

  5. So did you just give up on your deer problem after that, or find some new deterrent?

    "You just can't keep a good creeper down." As a native of kudzu country, I'll vouch for that! Yikes! (Although I guess that would be a "bad" creeper...)

  6. Katina-
    We have fencing that usually helps deter the deer. We haven't had as many in the yard now. Our younger dogs now tend to deter them more than our old girls did.

  7. Oops... I meant Katrina... I also now a Katina. :)


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