Tag Archives: tulip bulbs

Help! We’re under attack!

Last year followers will recall around this time of year (perhaps slightly earlier) something ate our garden. The tulips were eaten or the bulbs pulled out and the raspberry canes were stripped from the ground up to about one metre.

This year, at the end of March, we noticed something was scratching away the grass leaving holes and unsightly bare patches. Then the tulips started to disappear again. However, Mr Mac had taken no chances with his raspberry canes and they were well protected with mesh. The last straw was when the brand new strawberries were eaten.

This is the grass in the back garden which has been scratched away leaving big holes.

This is the grass in the back garden which has been scratched away leaving big holes.

Tulip bulbs pulled out of the bed

Tulip bulbs pulled out of the bed

the primulas were pulled out of the pot but were not eaten.

The primulas were pulled out of the pot but were not eaten.

Two huge holes were dug among the lilies but again, these were not eaten.

Two huge holes were dug among the lilies but again, these were not eaten.

Frustrated, I consulted the font of all knowledge – Google – with a search of “what eats tulips?” The answer………….chipmunks! “How cute”, I thought, my sole experience of chipmunks being the animated kind that have wild, wacky adventures of the non-destructive kind. The only problem is we don’t have chipmunks in the UK!

However, neighbours had been suffering similar problems and after blaming the deer, squirrels, pheasants and pigeons, a badger was spotted leaving our drive early one morning. So Mr Mac promptly went to the agricultural supplies and bought a mile of mesh to attach to the stob and wire fence which surrounds our garden. Our garden is now badger proof – hopefully – we just need to remember to shut the gate at night! Apparently they can dig under fences and climb walls.

The attraction? According to the Badger Trust, “Badgers digging for insect larvae in lawns can cause significant damage. Some lawns are more likely to support a significant insect larvae burden than others, and this is often determined by the condition of the lawn. Lawns in good condition, particularly if they are well drained and free of moss, are less likely to suffer.”

The condition of our lawn has been causing us concern for some time and as it is currently 80% moss / 20% grass, it must be badger paradise!

We left a booby-trapped pot of old tulip bulbs from last year to see if they were still being eaten but it looks like we have solved the problem as there has been no further damage since the mesh was added to the boundary fence.

The booby-trap!

The booby-trap!

But then…….

I was positive the other evening when I shut the greenhouse for the night I had three sunflowers which had germinated but the next morning there were only two. Then when I opened up a couple of mornings later, all the zinnia seedlings had been eaten leaving only stalks. Now something is in the greenhouse eating the seedlings…….likely culprits are either mice or earwigs so I am keeping everything covered just to be sure.

What is left of the zinnia seedlings

What is left of the zinnia seedlings

To add insult to injury, yesterday when wondering around the garden I came across not just one but TWO slugs. They were promptly dispatched. These battles may have been won but I fear the war is going to be a long one!

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Mr Mac’s cunning plan

Well what an amazing day. I have been in the garden all day with a t-shirt and sunnies on and actually felt the need to put sun cream on my face! At midday it was 17 degrees outside the greenhouse and 25 degrees inside – and it’s only 22 March. It was just me, woody woodpecker, two ladybirds and the pheasant who has set up home in the field next door while he looks for a girlfriend! Heaven.

The trellis and flower bed where I plan to grow a wall of blue flowers.

I have weeded the flower bed in front of the trellis, potted on the cosmos, osteospermums (all 2 of them!), the gazanias and the dahlia pom poms. I also planted some ladybird poppy seeds in pots. It is something I did last year and it was really effective.

The First Tulips

The best part of the day was seeing the first of the tulips open.

Until this year, all we had in the garden in the spring were snowdrops then daffodils. This year we introduced some crocus. A bag of 20 bulbs was purchased and planted but the 2 small circles of purple crocus was merely a drop in the ocean and hardly made an impact at all. I think we probably need 2,000 bulbs!

We also bought loads of tulip bulbs but never got round to planting them in the ground in time. So we decided to plant them all in pots and once they have flowered and died back, we’ll stick them in the ground for next spring.

An  issue we have had in the past is our pots always crack and break with the frost. We did not want to risk it this winter, especially as most of them had tulip bulbs inside them.

Mr Mac came up with a cunning plan! The reason the pots crack is because the soil gets waterlogged and then expands when it freezes and this cracks the pot. His theory was that if he could create a layer between the pot and the soil inside it that would allow expansion then the pots would not crack.

Can you guess what Mr Mac’s solution was? BUBBLE WRAP!

Bubble wrap between the pot and the soil

Yes, we lined each pot with a layer of bubble wrap then filled it up with soil and planted the bulbs.

This did the trick and all the tulip pots survived the winter intact.

The only pot that did crack is the one that I keep my blueberry bush in. It sits in a large saucer which retains water. Yes, you guessed it – the saucer filled with water, the water froze and cracked the pot! Typical.

Anyway, the bubble wrap design is patent pending and you can look forward to seeing Mr Mac on the next series of Dragon’s Den!