Monday, December 9, 2013

Look Forward to Spring by Planting Bulbs

Over the years I have lived at my home, I have tucked hundreds of bulbs into the clay soil.  Some I dug from overcrowded beds at the homes of my mother and grandmother.  I dug some out of the cow pasture where my grandmother tossed them after she removed them from her overcrowded beds.  I purchased many bulbs. 



Digging into the hard clay underneath tree roots is free aerobic exercise and weight training for me: I use a large mattock to dig the holes in the forest floor.  In the spring, swaths of white and yellow flowers reward me for my work.  My gravel driveway meanders across a creek and through some woods before it terminates at my house, and I enjoy seeing the bulbs bloom with the dogwoods in the early spring.  
Baby holding a daffodil


Originally, I planned for the bulbs to multiply and to produce wide swaths of yellow and white through the woods so that eventually yellow and white flowers would carpet the forest floor in the spring.
The bulbs have not obeyed my orders to multiply, but I enjoy the survivors.  Living among tree roots is difficult; the large trees gobble spare nutrients and water.  In my flowerbeds, however, where the bulbs are able to grow without competition from overwhelming opponents, yellow and white flowers signal the arrival of spring, and the bulbs are so happy that I need to divide them.

When I plant bulbs, I dig a hole about twice the length of the bulb, and I space the bulbs three to six inches apart.  In new beds, I put in some bone meal, an organic source of the potassium bulbs need.   I put the bulb in the soil with the pointed side up, and I cover it with soil and mulch.  After the blooms fade, I allow the foliage to die naturally; bulbs obtain nutrients through their leaves to support the next year’s flowers.
Baby trying to eat a daffodil


Although it’s a little late to plant bulbs this year, there’s still time, and garden centers have bulbs for sale.  I finished planting my garlic this past weekend; it’s also late to plant garlic, but I followed the same method of planting I did for the flower bulbs and I expect a harvest in the summer.  Many gardening recommendations to plant bulbs in September are written for gardeners who live where the ground freezes and prohibits gardening during the winter.

No babies actually ate any daffodils, although they wanted to taste them, of course. 

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