Sunday, March 16, 2008

Squirrel Math

I've always thought early, small crocuses are best when they are scattered here and there as if they popped up randomly on their own. Well, I (or I should say WE) have achieved that effect in the garden... the other half of this equation being the squirrels, who dig up the crocuses, and re-bury some of them in the oddest spots. It is always a delight to see various little bulbs popping up all over the garden, and guessing what they might be.
The only problem with this human-large rodent partnership is squirrel math: an even split is eat six, plant one!
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Our squirrels don't come close enough to get the crocus. We've got six outside cats. LOL
I have the very same problem this year. They've devastated many patches of crocuses - I'm fit to be tied. This is war!
Kylee... our cats just sit and watch the squirrels.

Ki... They say to bury the crocus bulbs in wire cages; I've never tried that. there should be something stinky you can bury with the bulbs (how about mothballs)?
Our cats do too, because they likely know they'll come out on the losing end, but they must look scary enough to the squirrels!

I've heard that planting the crocus with daffodils help, because they won't eat those. And isn't there one species of crocus that they won't eat? I'm thinking that's the one I planted last time.
I just found it: Crocus tommasinianus. They're not supposed to like these.
And here is an article talking about it.
Kylee... yah, now that you mention it, I've read heard that before about tommasinianus... it sounds good in your link, and there are tons of varieties of C. tomm.
I've googled mothballs with bulbs, and it also sounds good; I was planning on planting some crocus bulbs this fall and I'm going to try burying a mothball with each clump.
Do you think that most of the thievery is in the fall when the bulbs are planted? I guess I have always thought that if I could guard them at that time and then the ground froze you would be most of the way home. It seems that once crocuses start to clump up they do not get disturbed.
Philip... I think that's when 90% takes place; the dirt over the bulb is loose, and they can smell the new bulb. I actually think anytime they see a spot of loose soil, they dig at it, thinking another squirrel buried something there. That's why I'm thinking if I throw in a mothball with the bulbs, it would work.
How did you train your squirrels to rebury them? Mine always just eat the bulbs right away.
MMD... I think they were just full.
Ground squirrels are the problem at my house. During one winter (was it severe?) they ate all 150 tulip bulbs. The only one (1!) that survived was surrounded by daffodil bulbs. Pretty crazy.

Two years ago, I alternated between making (6) little wire baskets for tulip bulbs to digging a large hole, planting the bulbs and covering them with hardware cloth. I had tulips last year. We'll see what happens this year. ;-)
My hungry little squirrels like the tommi crocuses. They also dug up daffodils to reach the crocuses underneath, the one year I tried that.
Shady... ain't nature wonderful?

mb... so tommis aren't immune? Foof.

Ack, the insidious tree rats strike again! Even with our 2 dogs, they cause plenty of mischief in our garden by digging things up. One thing we tried a few years ago (last time we planted a lot of bulbs) that seemed to work was to take chicken wire sections and put them over the areas where we had planted the bulbs. We secured the pieces of wire with short garden stakes and then removed the chicken wire in the spring when they started to come up. That worked for us at least, and next mass bulb planting we do, we'll probably do that again. It beats putting nasty chemicals in the ground ... Also we have daffodils in proximity with a lot of the crocus and snowdrops and that seems to work as well. Just my two cents on this topic ... :-)
IVG... Now that you mention it, i've done that chicken wire thing before and it worked for squirrels, though I think the voles still got some by burrowing under. It's always something!

I read one person who said she plants alliums among her tulips. I tried that, but won't know the results until tulip bloom time. Maybe the onion smell covers the tulip scent. I thought it was worth a try, and worth passing the idea along.
I wonder what the moth ball chemical does to the tulip bulb - let us know how that goes, Don.
Barbee... I'll let you know next spring.
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