intro + Brodiaeoid questions

Jane McGary
Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:15:22 PDT
My former garden is out in the country and was plagued by voles, 
gophers, field mice, rabbits, and deer. I was able to save bulbs in 
the open garden from burrowing rodents by planting them in the 
fine-mesh plastic pots, or baskets, sold for growing aquatic plants. 
The best brand is Finofil, which is UV stabilized and has fine open 
mesh on the bottom as well as the sides. Don't use anything that has 
a solid bottom.

The only Themidaceae ("themids") I grew in the open were 
Dichelostemma, and they were not eaten. Neither were Camassia.

The worst above-ground pests on my bulbs were rabbits, which ate all 
the Fritillaria and Calochortus flowering stems (but not, usually, 
the leaves). The best protection against them is an active nocturnal 
dog, which was aided in my garden by plenty of coyotes (I believe 
they thought my Malamutes were the biggest coyotes they'd ever seen, or heard).

Now I live in the suburbs, and although I miss the pollinating 
insects and wonderful assortment of birds, my bulbs are whole and 
healthy. Most of them are prot4ected inside a screen-sided bulb 
house, but I see many species flowering in the garden where they came 
in as "extras" or volunteers in the old potting soil, and look 
forward to moving the increase out into the open.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

M 4/8/2012, you wrote:
>I manage the bulb collection at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Los 
>Angeles. Our first couple of years, we had a great deal of trouble 
>with ground squirrels getting into our growing yard. They were very 
>intent, even bending wire mesh with the heads to pry open a gap to 
>crawl through. They ate Calochortus first, then went through 
>everything else, including Zigadenus! The only bulbs they really 
>didn't like (though they dug through them to taste every one) were 
>the Triteleias.
>Part of the problem with bulbs in pots is that they're probably 
>better watered, have better soil (more nutrients), and maybe even 
>get some they're more plump and tasty to the critters.
>We have some Triteleia growing in the TPF grounds...and they aren't 
>eaten. I also have some Brodiaea californica growing in the ground. 
>They were caged before planting and they've done fine over time.
>Has anyone tried using crushed oyster shells in the planting hole as 
>a deterrent to digging critters? I read somewhere that this helps, 
>but haven't tried it myself.

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