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How to outfox hungry deer, rabbits, squirrels and more

Placer County master gardeners host free online workshop

Mule deer
Keeping deer out of gardens is a battle for foothill
gardeners as well as those who live near the rivers
or in semi-rural area. (Photo by W. Paul Gorenzel,
courtesy UCIPM)

What will deer eat? Whatever they like. The real question for foothill gardeners: What won’t deer eat?

The same goes for rabbits and other voracious critters, who can destroy a garden seemingly overnight. Squirrels can strip fruit trees bare. Gophers attack plants from below, chomping through roots and tunneling under lawns.

But there are ways to outfox hungry wildlife. Learn how with the help of the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Placer County.

“From Bambi to Thumper: An Integrated Strategy for the Management of Vertebrate Pests” will be presented at 10:30 a.m. March 13. This one-hour Zoom workshop is available free to gardeners anywhere there’s internet access. No advanced registration is required.

Whether you’re dealing with deer who don’t know their limits or opportunistic rodents, the master gardeners have a plan. That starts with identifying what is actually doing the damage.

“Learn how to use Integrated Pest Management to identify and control garden damage from squirrels, gophers, deer and other pests,” say the organizers.

Those effective strategies include plant selection. For example, deer tend to avoid such aromatic plants as lavender, rosemary and garlic.

Don’t underestimate the intelligence or hunger of these pesky critters; garden defense needs several different methods to truly be effective.

In case you can’t make this workshop or missed earlier workshops, Placer County master gardeners are now offering recordings of their virtual workshops online via their website.

Full details (including the Zoom link to the Bambi workshop):


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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