This is one of those posts I’m loathe to publish because it highlights a failure on our part. Although it is embarrassing, it is part of “our journey” and the never-ending learning curve, so hopefully someone else out there reading about our experience will not make the same mistake we did.
One of the permaculturists we admire is an Austrian by the name of Sepp Holzer. He is rather outspoken and quite knowledgeable – a self-taught” permaculturalist. We have one of his books in our library, Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, in which he discusses a home-brewed deer repellent he calls “bone sauce”. We brewed up a batch and blogged about it here last year as our fruit trees were being heavily munched by deer. The book describes it rather vaguely but it gets discussed ALOT on permies.com so we read through countless discussions to make sure we had the recipe and procedures down before we proceeded to whip up a batch.
I’m sad to report that the trees have not been doing so well. At first we didn’t attribute it to the bone sauce, but then read someone else’s later account on permies.com that if you applied it too late during the dormant season you could end up burning the emerging buds and so we thought maybe we had cut it too close on the timing. When later in the year several of the apple trees had mushrooms growing out of their trunks, we knew something had gone very, very wrong.
Out of fourteen fruit trees we applied the bone sauce to at least five or six are dead and several others have a lot of dead branches. There is a glimmer of hope though as they appear to have new growth. Only time (and pruning) will tell if they are going to come out of it okay.
While recently listening to a Permaculture Voices podcast interview with Zach Weiss, (a permaculture consultant in Montana who works closely with Sepp Holzer) we learned that you definitely DO NOT paint it all over the trees or you will kill them. He advised that you “get your Jackson Pollock on” and just splatter a bit with a paint brush.
WHOA! What? We never read anywhere that a little dab will do ya. We are not blaming anyone but ourselves for wondering how to apply it and just assuming you paint the whole trunk with it. Talk about a hard lesson, a bitter pill, sour grapes…. Blerg! Not only are we out a lot of trees, but now we have lost three years of growing time. Ouch!
If it wasn’t so painful for me, you’d see a picture of one of the poor, mushroom-encased dead trees in this space. The caption would read “Another example of why more is not always better”.
Another new piece of information [to us] was shared by Weiss in the podcast – use raw bones as it is the marrow that makes the sauce work. When we wrote our previous post we were under the impression cooked bones were better… Apparently more thorough research needs to be done before attempting bone sauce in the future. I read today that someone else did share this information on permies.com, but noted it was posted several months after we had concocted our bone sauce.
Just goes to show you that you don’t know what you don’t know. The curse of the newbie…