Sorry, Bambi, the Restaurant Is Closed!





Introduction: Sorry, Bambi, the Restaurant Is Closed!

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.

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    Either Bambi or Thumper was eating some of my flowering plants last spring. I got one bar or Irish Spring and shredded it on the flower bed around the dog run and near the patio. Big mistake! I'm apparently allergic to that stuff I had also read that it keeps squirrels from digging in your flower beds which would have been nice. I will try some Fels Naptha this spring. I think I can tolerate the smell of that.

    Another way to keep Bambi from your plantings might be with windchimes. They don't particularly care for things that make noise as they could mask noises of predators creeping up on them. I was going to make a kind of clanking wind chime with stainless steel spoons and a pot lid this winter for a flower bed away from our home but I fell and hurt my back so it didn't get done and now I have no idea what plants will still be there when it's dry enough to walk out and see.

    1 reply

    Ahh...can't help you with the allergies! And sorry about your back!

    How about hanging a few CDs from fishing they spin they catch and reflect light...I've heard that helps, too!

    Does the soap effect the plants at all? I have marauding elk and wild boars and would love to be able to deter them without fencing. I am concerned that the chemicals in the soap may adversely effect the plants when they are watered. It's a great idea though!

    1 reply

    We've never had an issue...

    I wondered if they might taste funny to the animals as the soap goes into the soil, which is why I wouldn't use it on berries...

    The deer will eat the hosta leaves in the winter which could be a combo of my not freshening up the soap and they fact that they're SO hungry by then.
    But both new hostas and old ones are very healthy/beautiful foliage.

    Wild boars sound scary!

    lol looks like big league chew, the gum.

    1 reply

    Hilarious, Sky...and SO true (green apple, yum!)

    haha, fun note, cus in where I am from (hong kong) we don't have garden, let alone wild deer.

    2 replies

    But you DO have a great BIO! Can never go wrong with wanting to be a better person... You GO, mchau!

    thamks for your encouragement!! your ible is fabulous btw!!

    Try freezing the bars for a few hours before shredding. They will gum up the blades less. I make a soap solution to spray on plants to stop Aphids.

    1 reply

    Hi, JM...Great suggestion!

    Two BTWs:

    1. I LOVE chocolate, too (and Hersheypark)!

    2. (and most important) THANK YOU for your service!

    Have you tried spraying a solution of Irish Spring and water? Old timers tell of a soap called Fells Naptha to spray on fruit trees to keep a host of critters away.

    1 reply

    Too lazy to spray, lol!

    I did pick up a bar of Fels last autumn to try on my "lacey" rose leaves this summer. I've heard of so many neat uses for it!

    We have this "problem" here in the Seattle area, too. The deer love to eat the tulips, they pluck the flowers right off the stems. Another easy way to prevent that is to sprinkle cayenne pepper around the tulips. The deer don't like that. But it might not last as long as the soap? Anyways, great instructable! :-)

    1 reply

    Love tulips, but they've dug up our bulbs in the past, so we stick to daffs. I may try them again next year with the soap AND pepper... Thanks for reminding me!

    I feel your pain. The deer munched our strawberries and killed a couple of newly planted trees last year. This looks like a nice, easy solution. Thanks for sharing.