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Smith: Who knew? Deer detest manly soap

Ryan Couch leapt for a phone upon reading reporter Guy Kovner's story about voracious deer doing a job on gardens and landscaping this year.

Couch, a Sebastopol-reared landscape designer, shared that a few years back he was told Irish Spring bath soap works wonders at protecting plants from deer.

Sounds crazy, he thought. But nothing else he'd tried as a deer repellant worked, not even cougar urine.

Couch cut up a few bars of Irish Spring — "Manly, yes, but women like it, too" — and drilled holes in the pieces, then strung them from plants favored by deer.

Eureka. He found that the green-and-white soap truly does dissuade deer from eating vegetation.

"So far, it has worked every place that I've used it," he reports.

A Google check reveals quite a few favorable reviews of Irish Spring, some less so. The Humane Society of the U.S. suggests, "Hanging bars of soap on individual trees or shrubs where you want protection sometimes does the trick, particularly brands of soap that are high in tallow fatty acid like Irish Spring."

And — if raccoons do wash their hands, they might consider your garden soap-on-a-rope a thoughtful touch.

<strong>INTO THEIR GOURDS:</strong> This Sunday's Calabash, one of humanity's most original and delightful benefit events, will be serenaded by musicians who play instruments hand-made from gourds.

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