Toronto …is pepper a good preventative?thanks
Yes, you are quite right in being concerned about squirrels, as they are notoriously fond of tulip bulbs. But you aren’t alone with this concern, and Toronto Master Gardeners has written a very informative Guide titled: Growing Tulips. Therein, under the section on “Diseases and Pests”, you will find several preventative measures which you may choose to deploy alone, or in conjunction with one another.
You may find the following biological controls useful:
1. Planting other bulbs, such as daffodils, allium or fritillarias, or all, to your plot— if this fits in with your garden vision. Daffodil bulbs, and leaves, contain poisonous crystals which only certain insects can eat with impunity, and squirrels avoid. Allium (the Latin word for garlic) has a smell that resembles onions, again, a deterrent, and ‘frits’ contain poisonous alkaloids that produce a pungent, skunk-like odor that repels squirrels — and deer, while you’re at it !
2. And remember to clean up all remnants of discarded bulb skins after planting, as their presence, and smell, will prompt squirrels to dig for buried treasure;
3. Sprinkle blood meal around the plantings: blood meal contains high levels of nitrogen and ammonia. Again, the smell will drive squirrels away;
In addition to these biological controls, there’s always the cheap-and-cheerful option to spread chicken wire over your planted bed, and let the bulbs grow up through the wire, no need to remove.
Best of luck!