How Do White-Tailed Deer Change Ecosystems, Anyway?

Credit:  Robert Woeger ,  Unsplash Some facts about deer  An adult white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus , that might weigh between 100 and 150 pounds, must eat about 8-12 pounds of fresh forage every day. They eat a wide range of plants, from flowers to shrubs, to tree saplings, and in oak woodlands, acorns. All of these plants share the characteristic of a certain softness: deer lack upper front teeth, so their browsing involves a sort of mashing and tearing unlike the cutting and biting employed by many other herbivores, large and small, from rabbits to cows. It’s easy to identify deer-browsed areas, once you know the signs. Often there are browse lines at about four feet, below which everything looks as though it’s been trimmed—mature trees and bushes lack lower limbs and leaves, saplings remain stunted, if not eaten to the ground, and flowering plants have lost buds and flowers. In addition, there might be few flowering plants or shrubs, and a preponderance of grasses, sedges

Soil Health

Successful ecological gardening depends on healthy, living soil. Good practice also helps turn your garden into a carbon sink. I have posted about this before and will again, but here is a cheat sheet of tried and true suggestions that give good results.

Good Gardening Practices that Will Build Soil Health and Store Carbon
• Don’t use synthetic fertilizer (or herbicides or pesticides).
• Use organic fertilizer very carefully.
• Make compost and use it.
• Let fallen leaves decompose naturally under bushes and trees.
• Let pruned branches decompose naturally under trees and bushes.
• Allow duff to build naturally around bushes and trees.
• Put raked leaves in compost or start a separate leaf-mold pile.
• Don’t cultivate or till established beds if at all possible.
• Put down an inch of compost on beds in spring.
• Use organic mulches such as wood chips judiciously (I usually put down a thinnish layer over compost).
 • Grow native plants and wait until spring to cut down (or burn, if feasible): many have seeds birds love, and many will reseed themselves in fall and winter).
• Put cut-down stalks in compost or chop and leave in beds around plants.
• Reduce lawn to necessary areas (such as the croquet green, soccer pitch or picnic area).
• Top dress your small-as-possible, polyculture lawn with finely sifted compost in fall.
• Make new beds in summer or fall by mowing grass, putting down six layers of newspaper, wetting it, and topping with two to four inches of wood chips. Ready to plant in spring.
• Add compost to planting holes when putting in new plants.
• Reduce your power tool use.
•Make well-defined paths and use stepping stones to reduce soil compaction.