Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
November, 2000
Regional Report

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Daffodil bulbs ready to be "naturalized" along the edge of the woods.

My Bulb Critter Solution

There isn't a garden on earth that couldn't use a few more bulbs. In fact, I heartily recommend that everyone plant as many as possible every year. That way, we'll have lots of fat and happy voles, chipmunks, squirrels, and deer and plenty of flowers every spring.

Keeping Critters Away

Seriously, those critters eat most kinds of bulbs almost as fast as I can plant them. I have tried covering the newly planted areas with old metal window screens and that strong wire mesh called hardware cloth. The screens are unsightly and the hardware cloth costs more than the bulbs themselves. I've also tried covering the bulbs with extra mulch, but that seemed to make the critters dig them up even faster.

Home Remedies

There's an old wives' tale about using hair brushings from the family pet to keep rodents away from plants, but our semi-hairless Devon Rex cat doesn't shed enough to clog the sink, let alone scatter about the garden. The old spread-around-some-mothballs trick is no longer recommended for safety reasons. I've never tried dipping each bulb into a rodent repellent immediately prior to planting because, frankly, that takes more time and effort than I am willing to put into it. Digging generous, deep, planting holes already takes enough time, especially in our rocky soil!

The Daffodil Solution

So when I plant bulbs, I rely on daffodils for the mainstay of the spring show. The display gets better every year. It improves for two reasons. First, I plant drifts of tried-and- true varieties such as 'Ice Follies' that are recommended for naturalizing. Second, the erstwhile hungry critters leave those daffodil bulbs and flowers alone because they are poisonous to those critters and they seem to know it! The bulbs increase in number over the years and produce generous swaths of bright blooms each spring.

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