Utah State University Extension provides informal education outreach to residents throughout the state. This question-and-answer column is designed to give you research-based information whether your gardening interest is producing fresh food, creating a landscape area or anything in between.
Question: Deer have been eating my new fruit trees this winter. I also noticed some damage in my vegetable garden during the summer and think the deer are the cause. What is the best thing to do to make them stop?
Answer: Mature trees can tolerate some deer feeding, but young fruit trees like yours can’t handle much damage. The most consistently reliable way to protect your trees is with some kind of exclusion.
Steel posts and tall welded-wire fencing material around each of your trees can be effective. Another option is to use property fencing to disrupt their habits. The fencing should be at least 8 feet tall.
Tall fencing is also effective for vegetable gardens if there is a gate that is kept closed when the area is unattended. Some gardeners also cover the top with fencing material to provide extra protection.
There are lots of repellent products and suggested home remedies that claim to provide protection from deer, but most need to be reapplied every few weeks and also after rain or overhead irrigation.
Applications during the winter are best made during the day when temperatures are above freezing. If you’d like to try some of the products on the market, make sure the labels specifically say they repel deer and are safe for use on fruit trees. Keep in mind that if deer are hungry enough, they may not be discouraged by any repellent product.
If your garden is just a small salsa garden, tomato and pepper plants can be protected from deer with individual welded-wire cages supported by steel posts. Low “tunnels” of welded-wire fencing are also used in some gardens to keep animals away from crops such as lettuce, bush beans and other low-growing plants.
There are some repellent products that you can try in your garden. Make sure you read the label carefully before you apply anything in your vegetable garden, and remember that they aren’t 100 percent reliable. If you have any high-value plants, exclusion might be best choice.
Question: Is this the best time to prune my roses?
It’s best to prune roses in late winter or very early spring when you can see whether any canes have been damaged by winter temperatures. Unless your rose canes are tall enough to be bent over and broken by the weight of snow, you can leave them alone until late February or early March.
If your roses are tall enough to break during the winter, you can cut them back to about five feet tall and then do your final pruning at the end of winter.
Question: Something is getting into the dry food in my closets and eating it, like cereal and brownie mix. Do you know what it might be and how to get rid of it?
There are a few pests that are common in homes. Your problem could be Indian meal moths or other pantry pests. These pests like grain products, dried fruits, nuts and other packaged foods that are typically kept in pantries and kitchen closets.
If you see small, light-brown moths flitting around your kitchen, they are probably Indian meal moths. Check your pantry for food sources such as partially used packages of biscuit or pancake mix, open bags of raisins or nuts, etc. Remove any infested packages. Then purchase a meal moth trap and put it in your pantry to monitor the problem. It might take several weeks and a few more traps to get the problem cleaned up.
Sometimes small beetles show up in flour, cornmeal and mixes. There aren’t any traps that will help with this problem, so you’ll have to rely on removing any infested products and keeping things clean.