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Vermont Garden Journal: Protecting Bulbs

Lee Reich
The better the bulb you plant this fall, the better the blooms you get next spring.

Planting spring flowering bulbs is an act of supreme faith. We hopefully pop our tulips, crocus and hyacinth bulbs into the soil now with dreams of a rainbow of colors next spring. Unfortunately, we aren't the only ones loving those bulbs. Squirrels, chipmunks and mice are just some of the creatures that will happily munch on your bulbs under ground so that come spring all you might see in your garden are the weeds you missed last fall.

Sprinkling some crushed seashells, broken up egg shells and sharp gravel into the hole when planting may help thwart these critters. For those gardeners obsessed with their bulb's survival you can even plant bulbs in wire cages buried in the ground. But an easier solution is to grow bulbs that the critters don't like.

The first is the common daffodil. This bulb is in the amaryllis family and contains a toxin that will kill any squirrel or rodent dumb enough to keep eating it. Others in this family include snow drops and spring snowflakes. Lily family spring flowering bulbs, such as fritillaria and grape hyacinths or muscari, aren't toxic to squirrels, but have a distasteful flavor. Of course, any of the alliums or flowering onion bulbs, while good for your squirrels heart health, will tend to be avoided.

If you're hell bent on growing those tulips and crocus that squirrels love, consider mixing your bulb types in the same hole. Planting some bulbs that squirrels won't like close to your prized bulbs not only adds more color in spring, but also may discourage the critters from eating all the bulbs in the hole.

And now for this week's tip, when bringing houseplants that have summered outdoors back inside, quarantine them for a few weeks. Often insects such as aphids, white flies and mealybugs will hitch a ride inside and infest your indoor plants. If you see these insects, bring the plant into a garage and spray them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about unusual winter squash varieties. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

Protecting Bulbs from Squirrels
Keeping Squirrels from Bulbs

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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