Yes, Fall is for planting and its right around the corner so its time to start planning. Fall is the time for planting tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, alliums, and many, many more beautiful spring-flowering bulbs. Many bulbs must be cooled for a period of time in order to sprout so they need to be planted in Autumn. Over the winter the bulbs are naturally cooled or frozen in the ground and then sprout in the spring when the sun warms the ground. Now is the time to plan for your Fall plantings so your spring garden is bright and beautiful.
Planting bulbs is a very easy process. When you purchase bulbs, the bulbs will generally come packed in a bag or box with wood chips, wood fibers, or some other inert absorbent organic material. Planting directions will be either in or on the package. Read the directions carefully. You must plant your bulb at the correct depth or they will not thrive. Bulbs also need to be placed in the ground correctly. Bulbs have a top and a bottom. For example, a tulip bulb is pointed on the top (where the greens sprout from) and flatter on the bottom (where the roots will extend from). The bulb will not thrive and may perish if it is not placed in the hole the right way and at the correct depth so make sure you read the instructions before planting so your plants reward your hard work with a fabulous display of color in the spring.
Bone meal is an excellent fertilizer for spring flowering bulbs as it adds phosphorous to the soil which is the nutrient that’s responsible for producing larger and more beautiful flowers. However, bone meal is exactly what its name implies. It is made from the bones of slaughtered animals, usually cattle. It is an organic fertilizer but if you are adverse to using animal remains in your garden, try adding bat guano (bat poo) or poultry/pig manure to your soil. Manure based fertilizers add phosphorous and nitrogen to the soil. Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for plants, however, nitrogen encourages the greens of the plant to grow, in detriment to flower production, so limit the amount of nitrogen you add to your soil for your bulbs or you may end up with fabulous greens and no flowers!
Some critters, like squirrels and deer, will dig up or eat your bulbs. Using bone meal as a fertilizer on your bulbs tends to deter herbivores (plant eaters) from digging or munching in the area where you planted your bulbs because of what it is made of. There are also some manufactured deterrents, in the form of sprays and granules, that will deter animals from digging or eating your bulbs. Before purchasing these products, read the directions to understand how to use the product and whether the product is potentially hazardous. Also be aware that some of these products use foul smelling substances to deter animals so using the product near your home or commonly used area may create a rather obnoxiously fragrant (stinky!) nuisance.
There are also DIY projects that are easy to install that deter animals from digging your bulbs. Chicken wire is an excellent solution, especially for large beds containing bulbs. Plant your bulbs as normal, covering the bulbs with soil. Then lay chicken wire over the ground on top of the area where the bulbs are planted. Hold the chicken wire down with rocks or other decorative items or place a layer of mulch or dirt over the wire to hide it and hold it down. Animals will not be able to dig through the chicken wire and your bulbs will remain safe and happy tucked away in their new bed.
Another simple way of protecting bulbs is to create or purchase a wire basket with a wire lid that is large enough to hold your bulbs. Dig a hole in the ground large enough to hold the basket. Plant the bulbs in the ground inside the basket and close the lid. Hide the lid with a nice layer of mulch or soil. The bulbs are now planted in the ground safe inside the wire basket away from the wildlife that would love to dig them up.
Fall is coming quickly so start planning now. It will be so worth it in the spring when your newly planted bulbs flower and that dull corner of your yard glows with radiant color.
As always, have fun and be creative. Gardening is an ongoing experiment. There is no right or wrong. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Quote of the Day:
“The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure.”
– D.H. Lawrence