Deer are coming through our fencing both night and day. When we aren’t in the upper fields the deer creep in and eat all the seedlings. We have lost so much to them and the damage progresses daily. They even come into the high tunnels and so far are killing all winter squash, chard, lettuce, sunflower and the list goes on. I am spraying repellents made of garlic, hot chillies and soap with mint oil. The directors are starting to understand the breadth of the damage and are going to buy a new fence charger.
As I learn more about beneficial insects and how to attract them, some of the uninformed companion planting in the early part of the season is proving to be either working or simply pretty depending on the placement. Nasturtium plant showed insect damage earlier than the cash crops but a mistake we made was not treating the nasturtium. Had I started trapping and possibly spraying when insects showed up they may not have caused damage to the cash crops. Many of our intensional flower strips have been planted as attractors of beneficials and are working quite well. When a piece of the farm is doing a job by living the term I have learned recently is ecologic service. The ecological services provided by the flower strips include attracting pollinators, parasitoids, predatory beetles, and providing permanent shelter and food sources for beneficial species. A new term and concept I have recently been taught is called banker plants. Banker plants provide food, shelter and alternative hosts for the beneficial insects on a farm and at the campus farm these flower strips are acting as banker plants. A huge benefit to these banks of beneficials is that when cash crops need to be treated the beneficials don’t all get eliminated at the same time.