Last spring, with a new hosta garden nearly completed, we wanted to keep our investment from becoming a wildlife salad bar.
We’ve been using using Irish Spring soap as a deterrent the for past few years with great success. I can't guarantee it will work for everyone, but I can say that when we’ve had hostas and didn’t use the soap we went to bed with beautiful foliage, and woke up to lonely leaf stems.
Once we added the soap, the leaves lasted the summer and well into the fall. And maybe it’s not all Bambi’s fault…we think Thumper was in on it, too.
The soap is a little soft and over the past few summers I’ve used different methods: chunking it with knives, cutting thin slices, and grating it with a cheese slicer. But last year I tried another approach using this highly fragranced bar soap that was much more economical.
So…here’s our version of that solution:
Step 1: Go Shopping!
Head to your favorite grocery store and bring home a large pack of Irish Spring soap.
We started buying our bars at a dollar-type store, but found it a better value to buy the 12-packs from the local supermarket. The big packs often include bonus bars and you coupon divas can get them at an even better value, I’m sure.
We have a lot of yard, a lot of deer, and a few nice neighbors to share with, so I usually purchase three big packs and make extra.
Step 2: Haul Out Your Food Processor
Go into the darkest part of your appliance cabinet and haul out your food processor.
Mine is happy to see the light of day, since I normally only use it at Thanksgiving.
Select the shredder disk attachment (okay, so I don't know the technical culinary term for "the disk I'd use to make cole slaw") and place in the food processor.
Put on the top of the food processor that has the tall feeder tube.
Turn it on and...
Step 3: Shred Some 'Spring
Shred the bar of soap. You may have to play with the direction of the bar for best shredding.
One 12-pack loosely fills my processor bowl three times. How far it goes depends on the size of your garden…
After you shred some 'Spring....
Step 4: Spread Some 'Spring
Sprinkle the soap shreds around the base of the plant and in between as desired.
Be liberal with the first sprinkling so the wildlife associates your garden with a scent that's "clean as a whistle".
We freshen it up by sprinkling a little more a few times throughout the growing season (every few weeks), or after a particularly heavy rain.
The green color isn’t very noticeable from a distance…and will fade fairly quickly.
I used to just put the soap at the base of the plants, but these new plantings have wide spreads and are pretty far away from the house, so I would just rather leave a sign that says in animal-speak that the bar is closed.
Using an entire bar of soap is an interesting thought, and may pack a powerful smell/punch to keep the animals at bay, but I have too many plants to cover and I think the shreds give us a better value.
So far…works great in the garden…and don’t forget your pots and planters. Single-serve salads need protection, too!
Step 5: Clean Your Food Processor
Cleaning tip: adding vinegar to the dish detergent seems to break down the oily residue that you won’t want to taste when you’re using the processor later in the year to make cranberry orange relish.
Or if you have the storage space and/or a garage sale find…maybe you can use a garden-dedicated processor for this and other non-food uses.