It’s be super crazy busy at the studio the past few weeks, and we’ve been working on some absolutely gorgeous events I can’t wait to share with you soon! Once things slow down a bit we’ll be posting an amazing white wedding I know you are going to love. Bear with us during this crazy time of the wedding season!
A little while ago, I reminded you that it’s time to order your spring bulbs! Bulbs are a great investment because they return every year and many of the favorite spring flowers multiply in the ground, giving a more abundant array year after year.
To get started, give yourself about two weeks to adequately prepare your garden site before your targeted bulb planting date. Set aside a few hours on the weekend to accomplish the soil readying part– it’s important. First things first, de-weed and clear the area you plan to plant in. By the close of summer, our beds can start to look haggard and sad. Maybe you forgot to keep up with the persistant weeding (I’m so guilty of this)! Maybe the crabgrass has crept it’s way into your garden beds. Either way, pull out all the trash. Then, improve your soil’s condition by aerating. Loosen up the dirt. Look at it’s composition. If you’re not sure what you are looking at, consider a soil test to see what your soil naturally provides to plants. If you don’t want to go that route, you can attempt to self-diagnose and treat with the help of the Farmer’s Almanac. One big tip: if the area you planned to plant has soggy, damp, waterlogged soil, you ought to rethink where you are planting. Extreme moisture will cause bulbs to rot.
For a basic fix: I like to suggest improving soil condition by gently tilling it and adding a hefty dose of organic material. My preference is Mushroom Compost; it’s rich and full of nutrients, and my plants tend to really thrive. You’ll want to treat the top 12-18 inches of your soil with your compost mix. Turning the soil over and over until it’s well mixed is a must. I also recommend following these guidelines from the University of Illinois: ”Spring flowering bulbs should have mixed into the soil in the fall five tablespoons of 10-10-10 soluble fertilizer (or equivalent bulb fertilizer) plus two cups of bonemeal per ten square foot area. As soon as the shoots break through the ground in the spring, repeat the above soluble fertilizer application. Do not fertilize spring flowering bulbs after they have started flowering. This tends to encourage the development of bulb rot and sometimes shortens the life of the flowers.”
My go-to-fertilizers and plant foods are Monty’s Joy Juice
They have some great tips for using Monty’s on flowering bulbs. This stuff is awesome, trust me!
Depending on the conditition of your soil, you may also need to add in some gardening mix soil from your local nursery. This is especially needed if your soil condition looks to the eye as poor. If your dirt is cakey, dry, dusty, or a pale, withered shade of brown, you may want to dig out your entire bed and bring in totally new soil. It depends on your area. Usually soil that looks like the image below is poor and won’t provide enough nutrients or ability to hold in moisture, thus threatening the life and longevity of your bulbs:
In comparison, good, rich soil is dark and heavy. It holds moisture well and reflects its held nutrients in color:
After your soil is beautifully prepared, it’s time to start planting. A good general rule of thumb is that you want to plant your bulbs 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. The bottom of the bulb is the rounded end. The top is the pointed end. If you put the bulb in the ground backward, most will self-orient, but it’s nice to help the bulb out by positioning it correctly.
Digging holes in the dirt can be tiring, that’s where a handy bulb digger comes in:
Before you start digging, double check your map of planting. Place your bags of bulbs in the areas you want to plant them, putting them in clusters of 3 bulbs. This insures a more natural look to your planting. If you are planting bulbs that are tasty to predators (in particular, deer and squirrel love tulips) then sprinkle some cayenne pepper in between handfuls of dirt. This will deter predators. Plant tulips 3 times deeper than your other bulbs to make them harder to access for squirrels and chipmunks. Make sure the cluster of bulbs are a bulb-width apart from another, then cover with dirt.
- for larger, fuller flowers (iris, daffodils, etc) follow a rule of spacing of about 3 per square foot
- for smaller, delicate flowers (muscari, snowbells, etc) follow a rule of spacing of about 10-12 bulbs per square foot
After planting, water your garden throughly, and await the first frost before adding a thick layer of mulch to lock in moisture and help regulate temperature. And now- wait for the bounty of your planting!