Bulb Predators / Raised Beds

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sun, 05 Sep 2004 08:31:42 PDT
Dear All,

Jim really got every one's attention this week with his rat (a.k.a. 
squirrel) question. As for "rats with hooves", I like to call them "pigs on 
stilts". We fenced our garden piece by piece until finally we decided to do 
the whole thing. That was after reading everything I could about which 
plants the deer wouldn't eat and trying deer repellants (home remedies and 
those your purchased) that didn't work for us. My husband tried the sling 
shot (briefly) for the squirrels, but the deer generally came at night or 
when we were gone so that wasn't a solution. And although esthetically two 
short deer fences since they don't broad jump, just high jump, appealed to 
me at first, getting help to do two fences instead of one seemed unlikely 
and maintenance between the fences a challenge as well. On our sloping 
property with rocky soil, one fence was hard enough. When we first added 
our deer fence, I was bothered by the white on the top of the poles and Bob 
bought me green paint so I could mask it. It's amazing how quickly I 
managed not to see that white when it actually came to doing the job. Most 
of the time I don't see our wire fence either. Six feet tall is enough if 
they are jumping uphill, but we have added a higher wire for the other 
direction. Occasionally a deer gets in during the day when our gate is open 
and causes havoc with the fence ramming into it when trying to get out in a 
panic if one of us or the dog is encouraging it to do so. I then feel 
really sorry for it but also get alarmed about it ruining the fence.

When I decided to redo one of my raised beds, Alberto gave me some really 
helpful ideas and I also borrowed from Jane's description of her frames. I 
wrote an article about it for the IBSA journal. Anyone who is not an IBSA 
member who might be interested in reading it contact me privately as I am 
sure I have it on my computer and could send it as an attachment. Briefly 
you make a structure, lay hardware cloth on the bottom, add gravel on top, 
place plastic pots in the order you want, add plunge around them and then 
plant your bulbs in plastic pots of the same size to nest in the pots in 
the bed. That takes care of three sides of protection. In my case that has 
been enough, but if you had gophers, moles, voles, that come out of the 
ground you could also layer mesh or hardware cloth on the top and add mulch 
so it doesn't show and then they are completely protected (foliage 
excepted.) This solution is much easier than making little cages for 
everything (easier on your hands too) and I found plastic pots much cheaper 
in bulk in the USA than the mesh ones Jane uses. I saw some really great 
mesh ones in the U.K. however. I suspect the bulbs like the mesh ones 
better because the roots can emerge into the plunge and have more room to 

Being in the ground, the bulbs have more protection from extreme 
temperatures, and being in containers they are easier to find if you need 
to divide them, toss them, or share them. Many things have been much 
happier grown this way and every year I am redoing an old bed as it is a 
lot of work to do them all at once.

Mary Sue

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