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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Finally! I planted my spring-flowering bulbs

Yesterday I finally got my spring-flowering bulbs and shallots into the ground. I've been so busy these past couple of months, and then for the last 7-10 days we've been drenched in rain. There has been no chance of me getting out to the garden for planting.

Then, finally a beautiful day, yesterday, making it perfect for getting outdoors for the one chore I'd be so sad to not get done -- planting for spring. I look forward to spring flowers more so than those of summer.

In the garage I found a bag of bulb food. The bag itself was old and damp. I wanted to make sure that I used it all up. I also had one sack of compost left from summer gardening. As I was digging up the rocky soil for planting the bulbs, I mixed in a fair amount of compost.

I planted some mixed colors of Darwin Hybrid tulips (Darwin Hybrids have better perennializing properties than some of the other tulips), some pink and white Salome daffodils  and some cream-colored crocus.  I already have other spring bulbs in this area, along with a  white azalea and a pink rhododendron (both spring-flowering shrubs). My hope is to continue developing this one spot into a springtime flower haven, perhaps adding a flowering tree to the area, as well, and maybe a small bench.

I realize, that in some areas, it is way past time to get bulbs into the ground. If you have some bulbs to plant, still, it may not be too late. As long as the soil is not frozen, you can plant. In many cold-winter areas, this is right up until mid-November. And you could always fill pots with potting soil for your bulbs, if you just don't get to in-ground planting in time.

Bulbs like tulips really attract small animals. I've used a couple of methods to keep the critters from damaging my bulbs.

I've made basket cages from plastic berry baskets, caging the bulbs inside of two open baskets, facing each other, and securing together with twist ties. I then buried these in the soil at the appropriate depth for the bulbs. Even if the squirrels could sniff the bulbs out, they couldn't get inside the cage. 

Lacking berry baskets (I'm not sure any markets use those any longer), cages can be made with chicken wire or hardware cloth. You simply fashion a box like construction, trapping the bulbs inside and burying the whole thing. This works very well for flower pots, as there's little chance you'll be out digging and accidently hit the cage.

For open spaces in the ground, I prefer to lay bird netting on the soil to protect my bulbs. I stretch out a piece large enough to cover the entire bulb-planted area, and secure the edges with stones. I do this is fall and remove in early spring as the bulbs are coming through the dirt. Although squirrels can be troublesome in our area, with the netting I've never had a problem with them digging up my bulbs. (In an area where I don't lay the netting and have a sum of crocus bulbs, I do see where squirrels have dug up bulbs each year. Fortunately in that spot, I have enough crocus that the damage is not significant.)

In addition to the flowering bulbs, I also finally got the shallots into the ground. I should have planted them about a week ago, but the weather has been mild, and they still have time to develop some roots this fall.  I planted the 14 largest shallots from last years batch, hoping to triple that amount of large bulbs for the next harvest. I still have a basket of the smaller bulbs in the kitchen, for cooking with. I'm not sure about other locations, but in the Pacific Northwest US, you plant shallots in October for a harvest in July. 

Yesterday was likely the very last gorgeous day we'll have here for many months. Oh, we'll have sunny days, and we'll have warm-ish days (it was 60 F here today), but a day both warm and sunny probably won't come again until late March. So pleasant, I hated to have the day come to an end. 

Come spring, I'll take you out for a tour of this new garden area. You can bet that I'll be over-the-moon excited when those first crocus break through the soil's surface.


  1. I haven't heard you mention deer. Do you have problems with deer in your area?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      no deer here. But I understand that they can be quite a problem with landscaping. With bulbs, I hear they love to eat tulips, but don't care much for daffodils. Do you have deer in your area? We're too close to an urban area for deer. We do see them when we're further from home.

    2. We have a lot of deer in our yard. We are on one of their regular paths and sometimes they sleep here. It is hard to grow most things because of them. However, they don't like daffodils. Daffodils are one of those pretty flowers that, thankfully, most critters don't like.

    3. There are so many pretty daffodils available too. I've seen double-flowered ones that are all ruffly, and pink and white, and petite and multiples per stem. So many to choose from.

  2. We have deer problems and they love

    We haven't done any planting here and I'm torn. Right now because we don't have any major gardening areas. The guy who mows for us gives us a discount because we don' on my part I know. Plus, I just don't know what I want to plant.

    1. Hi Shara,
      I would actually really love to see deer in the yard. I think they're such beautiful animals. But I do understand that they can be a problem.
      You're new to your property, right? You'll eventually figure out what you want to plant, and then it will develop into something really beautiful, I'm sure.

  3. Glad you had nice weather to get your bulbs into the ground, Lili. :)

    1. It was one of those rare days for us, in November. I was warm enough while working outside that I didn't need a jacket. Now, just to wait for spring!

  4. Hi Lili-Judging from the damage squirrels did to my plastic bird feeder I'm surprised that the berry basket cages discourage them. I'm glad to learn the trick though. My sister grows raspberries, so I have a ready supply of berry baskets.

    1. The squirrels can be real pests at times, can't they? I sure hope that berry baskets will work for you, as well.

  5. I put my bulbs in the beginning of the month. I thought we were going to have cold temps so ran in and out during breaks in rain. Of course since I did that we've had warm days in between that I could have planted them. I never gave a thought to the wildlife, I planted tulips and daffodils couldn't find anything else this year. I sure hope I get some flowers to admire with all the wildlife I have here.

    1. Hi Lois,
      I did the same thing with our tomatoes. I thought we were in for much cooler temperatures, so picked them all. Then we went on to a month of lovely weather. Oh well!


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