Friday, October 17, 2014

Bulbs 101 by Keith Rabin
Poet Emily Dickinson referred to herself as a “ Lunatic On Bulbs “ , while referring to her passion for daffodils, hyacinth and spring perennials in general. To Emily Dickinson the bulbs were not just flowers to her but were moral and and personal emblems to her and in her poetry. She was better known in her life time for her gardening expertise than her poetry. For me planting bulbs without reading her poetry without dirt on my hands from planting bulbs just feels wrong somehow...
She slept beneath a tree, 
Remembered but by me,
I touched her cradle mute, 
She recognized the foot. 
Put on her carmine suit, 
And see!*
Its customary to class plants having thickened root stock as bulbous. Botanically there are distinctions between the true bulb, made up of scales or layers like the onion, the tuber which is solid as a potato and the corm which is woody like. In addition to tubers, true bulbs and corms there are other plants containing thickened root stock or rhizomes, (peony, German Iris and flags also known as iris.) These four types comprise an enormous number of species and varieties. Most of these groups all have foreign roots, covering most of the world.
It's time to plant bulbs as soon as the ground is cool and before the ground freezes. Ideal air temps are (not constant) from 50 to 60 degrees. October and early November are prime time along the Front Range.

Be sure to follow your label instructions for your specific type and variety. Depth is very important and there should be planting instructions on your label but fear not if you misplaced your label, I’m including a general planting guide.
Remember that bulbs like well drained soil, which mean generally that areas that collect water would not be a good area to plant bulbs, they don’t like wet feet. Bulbs also require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight so plan before planting.
Make sure you’re planting spring blooming bulbs for spring flowers not summer bulbs. Plant the pointy side up, if its hard to tell look for the roots and put the roots pointing down. If you can't tell most likely the plant will find its way to the sunlight.
Water your bulbs after planting to remove air pockets and to give the bulbs a great start for their winter nap. Until the ground freezes or if the soil warms during the winter and you’re outside looking for green in the world, give them some water.
If squirrels are a problem you can use chicken wire or mesh on top of the soil and mulch two or three inches on top of the mesh or wire. It’s a good idea to mulch even if you’re not using mesh or wire.
Best rule of thumb for planting bulbs is.... Enjoy your time and plant with friends or family. It’s a great thing to inspire you through the long winter months knowing the first breath in the garden will be the bulbs you planted as the season ends.

For complete information, see
*She Slept Beneath A Tree [ The Tulip ] - Emily Dickinson