Squirrels Steal Tasty Tulip Bulbs; Forced Avocado Fails | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 25 October 2012 14:32

102512reBy Buzz Bertolero

The Dirt Gardener

Q: My sister has a problem with squirrels and her tulip bulbs. Each year, she plants them but the darn squirrels dig them up and feed on them. How does she go about discouraging them?

A: Squirrels are adorable, yet they do become a pest and a nuisance in many gardens. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any sure-proof method of discouraging them.

Squirrel repellents are available; however, they’re not a 100-percent effective in discouraging them. They need to be reapplied often, as they’re water-soluble. So, it will take some work to protect the tulip bulbs from the squirrels.

You’ll need to cover the area where the tulips are planted. Landscape fabric or a mesh screen material is ideal. This is a temporary cover, as you remove it when the nose of the bulbs emerge from the ground.

It is critical that the material is well secured, as squirrels are excellent diggers.

The covering will delay you from planting any seasonal color until later. Any opening in the covering would be just another entry point for the squirrels.

This option works best for large areas and is not practical when planting in small sections or in-between existing plants.

For smaller areas, you’ll need to start the tulips in pots in a protected well-lit location. Any type or size pot will do.

Plant your seasonal color now, leaving the spots for the bulbs empty. In this location sink an empty container that matches the pot size of the planted bulbs.

Once the noses of the bulbs emerge from the soil, you can sink the bulb pots in the ground in place of the empty pots. It’s a little more work, but you can have tulips and squirrels.

Another option is to avoid the problem altogether by planting squirrel-resistant daffodils.

Q: I’ve told my grandchildren how their great-grandmother use to place an avocado pit in a glass of water propped up by toothpicks. The pit (seed) would grow roots then an avocado plant sprouted and grew. We have tried it twice without success. Grandma doesn’t look so good right now in my grandkids’ eyes. What am I doing wrong?

A: I’d check the water level in the glass. The bottom of the avocado pit (seed) should be in the water. Once the roots start to form, the water level will then recede.

You should also try forcing Hyacinth or Paper White Narcissus as a kid’s project. They can be grown in a shallow dish, like a saucer, on a bed of pebbles without any soil or water.

Avocados are very unpredictable when started from a pit, so there is a very good chance it will never produce; and, if they do fruit, it will be years from now.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is www.dirgardener.com and you can send questions by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or to 360 Civic Drive, Ste. “D,” Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Buzz-Bertolero.



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