I am stressing! I have spent hours making 12 square chicken wire bulb cages using 1/2 inch opening chicken wire. A family member said that the opening is too small! Is it????
No the wire size is ok. It is usually called aviary wire. Its only fault is the same as chicken wire. The gauge of wire is light and the years it is usable for this purpose is limited due to its rusting away in the soil. Hardware cloth is twice the wire gauge and will last much longer in the soil. It is also much more difficult to make into baskets. Al
Fanelda, I don't think you mean chicken wire. Chicken wire is usually 1" hexagonal openings of very light wire. If the wire is 1/2 inch holes it would be hardware cloth which is much more rigid than the chicken wire. I have been making bulb baskets of this for 20 years; otherwise voles will get every tulip bulb that I plant every time. I just sink the basket into the ground with the top of the basket level with the top of the ground and plant the bulbs in it. This method has worked wonders for my being able to grow bulbs that would otherwise be quickly consumed by voles. I consider the time spent making the baskets as time well spent.
How about some dimensions or do you have a pattern that you use. The one I liked used to be sold by Gardeners Supply but they no longer carried the product. White flower farm sells one that I thought about ordering one, then I could use that as a pattern. Is the wire difficult to cut with wire pylers or wire snips?
If the top of the bulb points at the center of one of the holes, 1/2 inch should be fine.
Peonyman..can we see some pictures of your bulb cages that you make. Can you post a picture of the hardware cloth that you use? Where do you buy this hardware cloth from? Would Home Depot or Lowe's sell it or should we go to a local hardware store?
I know I have voles, maybe this is why I occasionally lose a lily or bulb. Of course the ones I lose are plants I have ONLY 1 of, how could they know. I'm thinking I need some hardware cloth.
Because of the stiffness of hardware cloth, which by the way is available at any hardware store, it is best to make a pattern out of paper first. The shape of the basket should be rectangular of a size of your choice because hardware cloth does not bend well in any other shape. I use "hog rings" to fasten the baskets together, also available at the hardware, commonly used in the upholstery industry. A simple tool is required and should be purchased with the rings. This makes assembly fast and easy. Al
I too am having problems with voles, particularly with hosta & bulbs of all sorts. Would someone please post or send email with pictures & instructions on how to make wire cages. What is the use of "hog rings" & what size?
Thanks for any info that you can post.
I used 1/2 inch hardware cloth and only ONE hyacinth (out of 40!) and three tulips (out of 40!) came through. The rest were trapped under it. I would use chicken wire, unless you're planting small bulbs with small enough shoots. Just my experience after losing so many bulbs. Not to mention the disappointment after waiting all winter to see my anticipated display never happen.
Sorry Bill to hear of your bad experience. This is exactly why I asked experienced "cage makers" to post their expertise. It sure would help us who have never make a cage for flower use. Come on all you "masters" & help us.
I finally wised up & went to Google & searched on "Flower bulb wire cage" without the ". There were a number of good hits describing how to make the wire cages. My problem is voles eating hosta so i will use the smaller hole size wire & use the "hog rings" as described above. Will let you all know how i make out after making a few of them since i have to replace most all of my hosta's at $12-15 apiece.
Bill you must have used the cage upside down. Roots have no trouble with half inch wire openings. The top of the cage is open and not an impediment to bulb foliage. Al
Al, squirrels are the problem, and so they dig down to get the bulbs. The wire had to be above the bulbs to keep the critters from digging down to reach them.
I made my own bulb cages last Fall and it was really hard work, cutting and working with the wire. Don't laugh but I don't remember where they were planted and if they worked, after all that hard work. It was definately a trial and error..I'm not sure if the tulips came through the wire or not because I don't know where I planted them! Don't waste your money and valuable time, just plant your tulips deeper, get some cayenne pepper and sprinkle where you planted, some suggest grit on soil where planted. There is also a product called CritterRidder and Ropel makes one for use against small animals such as squirrels and chipmunks..Squirrels are such cute and smart animals but they sure can destroy your bulbs if not planted deep enough.
Between the squirrels and the voles I get attacked from above and below,,,,
The cayenne pepper and other chemicals just wash away after awhile....
I am going for the cages,,,,,
Hi, I'm new to gardening and wondering the same question. I am in a wooded area with assorted wildlife including voles, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, red foxes, bats, raccoons, turkey, and deer (and probably more I just don't know of yet). I am going to be planting an assortment of spring bulbs - crocus, hyacinth, daffs, tulips. I want to protect from underground burrowing as well as burrowing from the surface downward, primarily focused on protecting from voles but also squirrels and chipmunks. After much research I came up with mixed sentiment between 1/2", 1/4", 1" and bottom basket only vs full cage, with people vouching for each method. Owner of local pest control company told me that voles can definitely fit through 1/2" but I am concerned that leaves can't grow through 1/4" so I decided to go with a blended approach with the bottom of the cage made out of 1/4" hardware cloth and top out of 1/2" hardware cloth. Imagine one of those free gift boxes you get when you buy a sweater with the bottom part ~8" deep and the lid part ~1" deep. Going to sink the whole thing in the ground and throw in some Vole Scram (granular castor oil based repellent) plus some red pepper flakes for good measure (have a huge warehouse club tub of it anyway). Anyone with more experience have any input or advice? Much appreciated!!
Your plan sounds ok to me. I wouldn't bother caging the daffodils, they're poisonous and won't be eaten..... Maybe dug up or moved here and there but not eaten.
Tulips and crocus are like vole candy. Make sure they are protected. Hyacinths might be ok depending on if the voles are real desperate. I bet you have a real sandy soil, voles aren't very good diggers but in your soil they'll have no problem moving around... Good luck is all I can say.
Thanks for the input. I think the hyacinth and daffs would be fine, like you said. But I figure I spent the time making the cages already. I may change that once the cage is buried and I start arranging the bulbs, we'll see. I do have generally sandy soil and there's lots of little holes everywhere. Thanks.
FWIW...depending on what is eating your bulbs. If you have an animal digging from above (like a squirrel), you don't need to cage them. Squares of the same hardware cloth can be laid over the planted bulbs and fastened down with landscape staples. Allow a margin of safety for a persistent critter tunneling sideways, though 2 inches is more than enough. Cover with mulch and you won't even see it. Pull it up in spring before the thicker leaved flowers start poking through. I always forget a few, then notice when "something" is moving the mulch over :) . Squirrels are only interested in the bulbs when first planted, so by spring you no longer need to worry about those particular bulbs. Save mesh and staples for next fall's planting. Squirrels and chipmunks are my pests here, not voles (knock on wood), so luckily I have never need to make cages.
I build a raised bed with 2"x12". When it was installed, I lined the bottom with hardware cloth before any soil/compost was added. The hardware cloth was fastened to the inside edges with 2"x4" and screws to keep animals from coming up. Squirrels seem to only be a problem in the fall and early winter here. So chicken wire goes over the top of the raised bed at fall cleanup time. Hold it down with stones, small logs or firewood. It is removed in early spring. Bulbs stay intact AND I got no walnut trees growing in the bed either! (Besides digging up, squirrels like to plant down. I hate those rodents.)