Fall at Marshdale Farms - Part 2
So, you've seen a little bit of what Erik does in the fall. Now it's time to see a few snapshots of what flower farmers do in the fall! One of the major tasks of fall, and the most exciting, is planting flower bulbs. Spring flowering bulbs, such as alliums, tulips, and daffodils, are planted in the fall. These flowering are the harbingers of a new growing season, and a welcome sight after a cold winter.
How does one plant flower bulbs? It's really quite easy, although it may be intimidating to new gardeners or flower farmers. As such, you should first enlist some moral support. I suggest your family cat, as they will not require you to play fetch while working and limit their criticisms to disdainful looks. Timberjack usually does quite well as company.
Usually, for the home gardener, packages of flower bulbs come with instructions on planting depth and spacing. However, a general rule of thumb is to plant them 3-4 times deeper than the size of the bulb, and leave a similar amount of space in between them. As a flower farmer, I'm a little less concerned about space in between, and you can always dig them up and divide the bulbs as they multiply. If you are planting into the landscape for ornamental purposes, you'll want to plant in groups so they stand out against the rest of the landscape. You can do this with a dibble, bulb planter, or even a trowel, if your soil isn't too heavy. Think about planting at least 5 together, but if you are feeling very ambitions you could plant larger areas at a time using my method: a trench.
As you can see, all you need to do is dig out the area, set the soil aside, and space the bulbs. The bulbs in the photo above are a type of allium. If you have some compost, or fully decomposed animal manure, you can amend mix some in with the soil before you place it back over the bulbs. Once you have them covered up, make sure you tamp down the soil. I do this by walking on it, but your animals may help you by rolling in it! Now, a word of warning. Deer love tulips. Tulips are like candy. Neglect to protect your tulips in the spring at your own risk. For the most part, flower farmers treat tulip bulbs as a 'one and done' scenario, because it can be difficult to get a long stem while leaving enough leaves for the bulb to replenish it's resources. I've planted mine very closely in raised beds that I can easily install netting around. The other advantage to this method is the number of tulips I can fit in one space. However, if you are growing them in your landscape, you'll wish to space them according to the package. For protection, I recommend the metal mesh used to reinforce concrete. You can simply bend it into a makeshift tunnel. The 'industrial' look is very chic right now, so you may as well extend it to the garden! Plumbing pipe or 9 gauge wire is also sufficiently flexible and sturdy enough to support netting. If this is not to your taste, consider more deer resistant bulbs, such as daffodils and alliums.
If you have a little bit of patience, especially for your furry cheerleader, planting spring flowering bulbs is quite easy. You may just have to shove a feline out of your way so you can actually plant.
Come spring, you will be rewarded with the cheerful sight of spring flowers! Do you have any favourite spring flowers?