Planting Fall Bulbs: When To Do It (and How To Do It Right)

Planting Fall Bulbs When To Do It

Already anxious to see some new blooms? We know that feeling, so we’re already making our plans to put in our fall bulbs. We take a lot of comfort in knowing those little guys will spend the winter digging in with some new roots. They’ll just bide their time and emerge in spring–most likely to remind us that life is still worth living after we’ve made it through winter. The Farmer’s Almanac says it’s going to be a rough one. ¬†[image via wikimedia]

Anyway, here’s how we do it right:

  • Start with buying some quality bulbs. We mainly grow vegetable to get our money back on an obsession where you really do need to buy the best. Bulbs aren’t crazy expensive, but you get what you pay for.
  • Buy those bulbs at the least minute–0r at least wait until you’re ready to plant. Don’t keep bulbs laying around.
  • Get your planting down before the first freeze. Back in our Southern days, we didn’t really have that as a decent measure. We mostly just waited until right after Halloween. (Another Southern tip: treat bulbs like tulips as if they’re annuals, as opposed to perennials. Just let them bloom once. Things like daffodils will keep showing up year after year.
  • We go with the general 3x rule of planting bulbs by their width–meaning that you measure how far down you plant by three times the width of a bulb.¬†Another general rule that’s worked for us: clay soil needs to have the bulbs planted a little more shallow, and sandy soil needs the bulbs planted a little deeper.
  • Plant anytime before the ground freezes. In the lower South, where you may not have hard freeze, early November is a good time to plant.
  • Choose a dry and sunny spot for your bulbs, and season the soil with some compost. Add mulch to weigh down the weeds.
  • Get excessive with your bulbs. Even the top-quality ones may not sprout. Don’t treat them like vegetables, either. You want a nice flower bed that looks like it’s part of nature. We’ve been disappointed at the sight of nice little rows of tulips. That’s another reason to buy a lot of bulbs, too. The more, the merrier–if you’re talking about a spectacle in your garden.
  • Break out the low nitrogen fertilizer. We go with a 9-6-6 mix–and we really enjoy that, because we don’t get to use it often.

These are the basics–but now you’re wondering what’s really fun to plant. We’ll be talking about that soon enough…

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