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Friday, December 9, 2016

Spring Bulbs

I always order too many Spring bulbs.  I'm overly ambitious (well, that's better than being underly-ambitious), and estimating the number needed is always tricky.  So this year I had ordered bulbs to add to an existing bed.  Some of the same 2 varieies I planted last year to enlarde the are, and a new variety for a 3rd section. 

It turned out that the additional bulbs of the existing varieties used up all the space and I had 150 of a 3rd variety to plant.  "Somewhere"...

I love daffodils!  They are truly perennial.  There are hillsides in Washington DC where Lady Bird Johnson had them planted in the mid 1960s!  Nothing bothers them.  Voles and mice won't eat them, insects don't bother them, and their spot would have to become either a swamp or a desert to kill them naturally.

But they are just combinations of yellow, orange, and white.  So they can be a bit boring.  I wish some geneticist would make daffodils as colorful as tulips and hyacinths.  But they haven't, and some daffodils are getting better over the years.  Some have fancier flowers, some have contrasting colors, some bloom earlier or later.  I have to admit they are pretty good plants.

But still, I had 150 of 'Hillstar' to plant "somewhere.  Where, where, where?

And it hit me.  The front border of my main flowerbed has always been a problem.  Nothing I put there seemed to last.  My last attempt (planting alternating blocks of yellow and purple crocuses with a space left every foot for Summer annuals didn't work.  The voles ate them all.  And I have tried some perennials that never seemed to look right and died anyway.  The soil seems fine, BTW.

AHA, space to plant the Hillstars!  The planting was relatively easy.  My drill auger went down easily into the soft improved soil.  But still, it meant kneeling down to set the bulbs in the holes, backfilling with 50/50 topsoil and compost mix, sprinkling some 2-6-6 slow release organic fertilizer, raking over the augered-out soil across the top, and watering deeply to hydrate the bulbs so that they can slowly grow roots over the Winter before blooming in April. 

I came up 8' short of the border!  Darn.  But I ordered another 25 and they arrived in 3 days and I got THOSE planted.  Which left me with extra bulbs of Hillstar and one other from the main bed. 

Before I explain what I did with those, I should mention that I had 500 crocus bulbs I never got around to planting last Fall.  I intended to make wire cages to protect them from the voles.  But by the time I finally made cages for tulips and hyacinths in the main bed and got them all planted last year, the ground was frozen and I was worn out digging in the bad soil (rocks, tree roots, clay).  The tulips were buried in wire cages and in great soil and came up wonderfully this past Spring.  I never saw a hyacinth.

Because of that, I carefully dug up one of the hyacinth cages.  No easy task.  But I finally cleared off the top of one and the tops are hinged with wire so I could open it.  I pulled out several.  They were hard and healthy, and had roots growing.  Why they didn't send up shoots and flowers is a mystery to me, but I rebuyied them and will hope for blooms next Spring.

So I just set the boxes of the crocuses in the garage and left them.  Last week, after most of my regular garden shut-down chores were done, I thought of those crocuses.  I brought the boxes onto the tool bench.  There were  few leftover hyacinths.  They were like paper husks, utterly dead.

But the crocus bulbs were all hard solid and no signs of mold.  Well, I hate to waste living things.  So I thought of what I could do to give the crocuses and leftover daffodils and chance to live. 

I keep stuff.  Not "hoarder keep stuff" just useful stuff.  So I looked around.  What I wanted to find were cat litter boxes.  Something shallow to grow the crocuses in and harvest the bulbs next Fall when I found a good place.

What I realized was that I had 3 old recycling bins and 4 old storage bins I used to grow potatoes in.  I used to grow Yukon Gold potatoes in them before they became readily available in the grocery store.  And they were filled with rich soil!

So I wheelbarrowed all of them to my patio.  The cinder block wall is a perfect height for gardening work.  I dumped all the soil out into 35# kitty litter tubs (very useful as buckets),  put 4" of soil back in the recycle bins, set in the extra daffodils and added 2" of soil and sprinkled 2-6-6 fertilizer on top.  Added another inch of soil and crowded in crocus bulbs 2" apart.  Covered THOSE with 3" of good soil and sprinkled on a slight amount of fertilizer.  Added another inch on that. 

I filled 7 tubs and used up 300 crocus bulbs (of 500).  Watered them well. I'm hoping for a great container display in Spring and to be able to plant them someplace permanent next Fall.

I STILL have more crocuses.  I will be planting them in 6" black pots just to see if they grow.  I'll stick the pots in my veggie garden to give them some "normal" temperature and rain/snow.

Hope springs eternal...conditions. 

1 comment:

Megan said...

Mark - it all sounds as though it's going to be a wonderful display. Looking forward to see the pics in spring.

Megan
Sydney, Australia