Using Sugar Beets to Attract Wildlife
If you're trying to attract wildlife to your garden for hunting, photography, or any other reason, sugar beets are an excellent choice of plant to grow. In particular, deer love to eat sugar beets, and will go out of their way to get a taste. Here are some tips that can help you as you attract wildlife to your garden.
First, you'll need to select an ideal spot. Pick a place that is convenient for you, and on your property. However, you need to keep in mind that wild animals do not belong everywhere. Select a location that is not well trafficked, and far from any vegetable gardens or other things you want to keep free from wild animals.
Sugar beets grow the best in temperate climates, or slightly hotter ones. They can grow in almost any soil, but if your soil is not very rich, or has high clay content, using compost on your soil might be a good idea. Their adaptability makes them an easy plant to grow.
Plant your sugar beets in the spring. Earlier is better, but wait until temperatures don't drop below freezing if you can. April is a good month in most places, but you can still grow sugar beets successfully if you start as late as June.
Plant your seeds 1/4 inch deep. Space them close together and keep their soil moist, but not soaked through. Within 2 to 3 weeks, you should see some sprouts.
Wait until the plants are about 3 inches tall. At this point, clear out the weakest plants. Only clear out enough that the remaining ones are about 4 inches apart. Sugar beets have shallow roots, and for this reason, they do not compete well with other plants. Because of this, you will need to weed them regularly.
Sugar beets mature in about 6 to 7 weeks. Before this happens, you will need to decide whether you want to harvest your sugar beets and put them in a deer feeder, or leave them in the ground as part of your wildlife food plots. Both ways have their advantages. Leaving them in the ground is simpler, more natural, and lets the deer eat the greens, which they also enjoy. However, using a feeder can be more convenient, because you can store your sugar beets in advance, and save yourself the trouble of going out into the wilderness every day to water and weed them.
If you choose to harvest your sugar beets to use in a deer feeder, wait until they are about 1 1/2 inches across. You will need a feeder of some kind. You can purchase a professionally made one, or improvise your own. You can build a simple deer feeder with just a piece of 4 to 6 inch PVC pipe and a bucket. Punch some small holes in the bucket so it won't collect water, then cut it down so it is about 6 inches tall. Fill the PVC pipe with your sugar beets, then fasten it to a tree. Set your bucket below the pipe to collect the beets as it empties.
If you choose to leave them for the deer to find, you are done. It's time to start attracting deer.