Bulb Predators / Raised Beds

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Fri, 24 Sep 2004 20:13:04 PDT
Dear Rodger,

You raise some interesting points. Ann Marie was writing in response to a 
comment I had made about my raised beds. One of the considerations was 
creating a bed that would discourage predators and that was the reason for 
the hardware cloth and the gravel. I have an extra problem to deal with and 
that is that my property has a lot of redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). In 
the previous raised beds I had where I planted directly into the soil my 
beds soon became riddled with roots. We are talking pick axe if I planned 
to dig in those beds to divide or deal with the bulbs. I think double 
potting has an advantage in that it is harder for the redwood roots to get 
into my pots. It probably seems ridiculous to think that could happen, but 
trust me they seek out better soil and moisture.

Since my beds have been used almost entirely for Mediterranean bulbs that 
grow in the winter when it rains here and kept dry in summer when we get no 
rain I feared that if I removed a pot to replant it which I finally did 
this year, all the plunge material would fall into the hole since it would 
be very dry at that time and it would make replacing the pot a challenge. 
At the time I created my beds I didn't have a great source for coarse sand 
and Alberto suggested that mixing the sand I was able to get (play sand) 
with gravel would be helpful to make the plunge more gritty so that the 
water would not drain from the plunge into the pots. We get almost all of 
our rain in winter with a little in the fall and a little in the spring and 
none in the summer. The last few years we have had less rain so that the 
average for that time has been lowered to around 50 inches but I felt I 
still needed to be prepared for the possibility that we'd have some very 
wet months.

I'm on my third year with the original beds I planted and am very pleased 
with the results which are much better than I had with planting straight in 
the bed which is what I did before and also better than planting in the 
ground for a lot of things. I am using pots that are 9-10 inches deep and I 
think that is very helpful too. When I replanted one of the beds this year 
I found the nesting pot system was a huge help. Also I had put plastic pots 
on the bottom between the two containers and since the birds continue to 
pull out my tags it was easy to discover when I repotted what was in each 
pot if a tag was missing. So even if I miss out on some of the advantages 
you noted, there are others I gain. The pots Jane uses that are mesh have a 
lot of advantages too, but when I looked at sources for them, they were 
extremely expensive. I now have 4 of these beds and a lot of pots so clay 
pots would have been very expensive too. Even nested and not touching the 
plunge I expect the soil temperature in my pots in those beds is more even 
that it is in all those I have on benches exposed to the air and sun at times.

I'm glad you brought up some of this as it illustrates a number of things 
to consider when you are doing a raised bed. Each of us have very different 
situations and it is important to think about what you will be growing in 
your beds and what your weather is like as it will influence how you do it.

Mary Sue

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