It's time to plant bulbs! As a Dutch bulbsman (don't look in Webster's, not there) said to me recently, "It's a long winter in Chicago. I know spring is coming when the first bulbs start peeking through in the garden. That's much more exciting to me than the darned groundhog seeing his shadow." Those Dutchmen know how to turn a phrase, don't you agree?
What's new in bulbs? Let's face it. Even if you're a garden curmudgeon it's hard to deny that bulbs are fun and beautiful. A spring garden without bulbs is a garden missing its heart. A new product, Easy Bloom Pad®, makes an incredible bulb garden a snap whether you're new to bulbs (and intimidated), or a seasoned gardener whose knees now demand squatting clemency.
|Create a bulb bouquet the easy way!|
Easy Bloom Pad® - You can choose straight colors or mixed combos. The bulbs are encased in biodegradable materials that are about the size of a salad plate. Dig the hole 6" deep, loosen the soil, drop the entire pad flat in the bottom of the hole, cover with the soil you removed, water and you've planted a bulb bouquet! Instructions tell you which side is "down". You don't even have to kneel! I think this is one of the most innovative things to come down the proverbial garden path in a long, long time.
"Collections" - Whether it's appropriately color coordinated mixes of tulips, themed daffodils (example: only pink-flowered varieties), mixes of different species (say, daffodils and grape hyacinths), the guesswork has been eliminated for those that believe they're color wheel-challenged. It's now so-o-o-o easy to have a beautiful spring garden.
|Bulb collections take the guesswork out|
Bouquet or multi-flowered tulips - Not new, but often overlooked. That's right, multiple, full-sized flowers PER each bulb! These varieties ('Toronto', 'Quebec', 'Night Club', to name a few) have been around for a while. Who doesn't want more flowers in the same space for the same effort and investment? Grow them once, you'll add more every year.
|'Toronto' gives you more blooms per bulb|
Tips for those new(er) to the world of bulbs:
- Buy early (September) to make sure you get the varieties you want. Store them in a cool, dry place until the soil temperatures cool appropriately for planting.
- Soil temperatures should be below 60° F., preferably 55 degrees or so. Cooler is better. For those whose life is soil thermometer-less first frost is a good indicator of time to plant.
- Don't overlook using a complete fertilizer (one that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potash). For new plantings, don't put the fertilizer in the bottom of the hole and set the bulbs on top of it. Instead, place bulbs, cover with 1" or more of soil, then add fertilizer, OR fill the hole completely and then place fertilizer on top of the soil.
|Bulbs like to eat, too|
- Always do an initial deep watering to settle the soil and trigger the start of rooting. If fall is dry, water periodically until the ground freezes.
- Squirrels, in particular, are drawn to the smell of freshly disturbed soil. Bulbs can become a casualty of their curiosity. If your garden is a squirrel way station there are a number of great repellents to discourage such maddening hi-jinks. These repellents are usually available both as liquids to spray on bulbs and soil, or as granules to place in the planting holes and/or on top when finished.
- Spring flowering bulbs like well-drained soil. Never plant them in areas where there is standing water (any time of year) or even squishy under foot. Don't water, water, water in summer when they're resting. You won't be happy with the results.
- As hardy as bulbs are it's great general practice to mulch the beds heavily. Apply 3-4" of coarse organic matter (leaf mulch, compost) to the frozen soil surface. This will keep the soil cool longer in the spring. This results in later, more uniform, and often larger bloom!
Meer Komende opvolging ("More information is coming" in the next post...)