Grit Blogs > Panthers Hollow

Round Two in the Apple Wars

Jennifer QuinnAfter all the work I’ve done on my old apple trees and all the blossoms they had this spring, I was really hoping for a decent harvest this year. The one thing I hadn’t figured out was how to keep the deer and the raccoons off them. I put plastic net fencing around them, mainly to keep the chickens out since I had sown mammoth red clover underneath; but I hoped maybe that would also discourage the deer. They wouldn’t jump over it, I figured, because there wasn’t enough room to land inside. Wouldn’t you know, they just pulled it down, bending a couple of the U-posts flat in the process? You can see where they’ve eaten all the leaves off the bottom branches, as well as the apples. And apparently the raccoons got in, too, because all but three of the apples were gone before they were ripe.

Those last three apples were way out on a limb where apparently nobody could reach them, so I finally pulled them down. As it turned out, two of them were still underripe and inedible, but the third one was actually quite good. So that gave me hope, and got me thinking. Then I came up with an idea for protecting the trees. What if I wrap the trunk and the lower branches in that prickly plastic that I’ve used (unsuccessfully) to keep the cats off the counters. Would that be too uncomfortable for the raccoons to climb on? Well, probably not, since the cats don’t seem to mind it, but maybe it’s worth a try.

Then, I thought, maybe I could fasten bird netting or something over the lower branches, making it too difficult for the deer to eat the apples. There’s also the question of the new apple tree that I’ve planted closer to the house, which is doing very nicely. Next year will be its third, and I’m told it should probably start bearing by then.

I just added a hot wire to the top of my garden fence to keep the deer out, so I’m replacing the energizer with a more powerful one. But I discovered the new one probably gives me a lot more power than I need. So what if I put a fence with a hot wire around both the new tree and the old trees and connect them to the garden fence? Supposedly if I bait the wire with bits of foil spread with peanut butter, the deer will lick it, get shocked, and avoid it thereafter. And the raccoons would have to climb over it to get on the trees. Now, I think that might actually work!