23October 5, 2011

Sometimes you need to plan in advance to get something that you want, when you want it. In gardening this holds true for tulip and daffodil flowers. In the lawn and garden industry, these flowers are known as spring flowering bulbs. This also includes hyacinth, crocus and a lot of bulbs that are called minor bulbs. If you want to have any of these bulbs in flower come spring, you need to plant these bulbs in the fall. The early forecast for this weekend is for nice weather. (Finally!) This would be a good weekend to plant some of these bulbs.

I am often asked why these bulbs need to be planted in the fall and why can’t they be planted in the spring. The answer lies in what these bulbs need in order to flower. When the bulbs are planted in the fall, the bulbs will put out a strong root system. The bulbs then need about 16 weeks of cold soil temperatures. As the soil warms in the spring, the warming soil temperatures cause the flower bulbs to begin to put out their flowers. It is the combination of cold soil temperatures followed by warming soil temperatures that causes the bulb to bloom. This is why you cannot plant the bulbs in the spring and have them flower.

Planting spring flowering bulbs does not have to be a complicated task. Spring flowering bulbs prefer to be in a sunny location. They also prefer to be in a well-drained soil. Some people will plant each individual bulb in the garden. When bulbs are planted this way, the bulbs usually are in what would look like a straight row of flowers. Along with this being a lot of work, you don’t get a flower display with a lot of “pop “ in your garden. The best way to plant these bulbs is to dig a hole that is 1 foot in diameter. The depth will depend on the variety of bulb being planted. The proper planting depth will be listed on the package of bulbs. In the bottom of the hole, you should mix in some bulb fertilizer. Avoid using bone meal as a fertilizer. The smell of bone meal will cause squirrels and other rodents to dig up the bulbs that you have planted. Once you have put your fertilizer in the bottom of the hole you will be planting 5 large size bulbs or 10 small size bulbs. Cover the bulbs with soil. To further discourage the bulb digging creatures, sprinkle some animal repellent on the surface of the soil. Your next hole should be about 2 feet away from the first hole. Plant the bulbs in a similar fashion. Once the bulbs come into flower in the spring, your eyes will focus on the cluster of flowers and you won’t even notice the space in between the clusters of bulbs. This fast and easy planting method allows you to plant a lot of bulbs in a short period of time and it allows you to have a beautiful display of flowers come the spring.

Now onto the problem of the week. If you look around your yard and you don’t see mushrooms growing in your yard, you are the exception to this phenomenon. The mushrooms grow under some very exacting conditions. They need moist soil. They also need some type of decomposing organic matter in the soil. This could be an old tree root or it could be mulch. They also need an extended period of cloudy weather. Once these conditions are right, mushrooms will pop up everywhere. Many people ask if there is something they can apply to the soil to make the mushrooms go away. My answer is that I can sell you something that will make them go away in 2 weeks. You can also do nothing and they will go away in 2 weeks. In short, we have had the kind of weather that helps mushrooms to grow. Once we get back to sunny and dry weather, the mushrooms will go away.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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