Fall Bulb Planting Ends

Planting all of those daffodils, tulips and other bulbs was a big job. The last step in the process was to cover all of those holes, which we did last week.
In a prepared flower bed, this is easy, you just rake your garden soil over the bulbs and that’s that.

We rarely have that luxury because most of our bulbs get planted either in sod or in ground cover. That means we have to haul in some topsoil to cover the bulbs because much of the existing soil gets lost under the ground cover or grass.

Spreading topsoil over newly planted tulips.

After the soil has been spread, I work it in with the back of a steel rake. Using the toothed side is impossible because it snags the grass and ground cover (Periwinkle in this case).

This may be the last year I personally operate the auger for drilling the planting holes, my wrist and finger joints just can’t take the abuse anymore.

Next year maybe I’ll hire someone younger and just supervise.

Bob

November Projects

Can you believe it? I ordered over 10,000 flower bulbs and that still wasn’t enough to finish the project I had in mind.  I still need about 500 more to finish off the perennial garden.

Luckily the supplier has enough of the variety in question and will send them right away.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the bulbs to arrive, we started another fall project, emptying all of the flower pots and containers.

I always like to save the old potting soil to use in the vegetable garden as a soil conditioner.  I also compost all of the stems and leaves.

 Here we see some of the pots that have been emptied:

Empty pots and full compost bins

The compost bins are in the background.  The potting mix goes into the center bin, while the plant material goes into the two remaining bins. 

I always like to use fresh mix in the pots when planting in the spring, since potting mix is sterilized and free from disease and weeds.  On occasion,, when I run short of fresh potting mix, I will dip into the compost bin and use some of last years potting soil.  So far, I have not had a problem doing this (except for the occasional weed seedling that pops up)

This is a fairly big job to do, especially during this time of the year when there are bulbs to be planted.

There have been years in the past when we waited a little too long in the season to start this job… it’s no fun digging out partially frozen soil from clay pots.

Fortunately, with the warmish weather we’ve had, this project was completed on time.  No frozen mess this year!

Bob

How We Plant Bulbs

This year we are planting a little over 10,000 bulbs for flowering in the spring; Tulips, Daffodils, Grape Hyacinths and a few others.

Over the years we have tried several methods and have tried several types of tools.

This photo shows a few of those bulb planting tools:

Bulb planting tools.

On the left we have our all purpose garden trowel, it is fine for planting a few dozen bulbs in prepared garden soil.

 If you have more than a few dozen bulbs, the hand bulb planter (2nd from left) makes digging the planting holes quite a bit easier. 

A more expensive, but handier bulb planter (2nd from the right) has a built-in mechanism that helps you remove the soil from the planter.  You just squeeze the handle and it opens the digging part to release the soil to easily cover the newly planted bulb.

Next we have two versions of the “step-on” planter. These allow you to dig holes while standing.  Since your feet can apply a lot more pressure, you can use these to plant directly into sod for “naturalizing” daffodils into an area.  The blue colored planter works fine in light, sandy soil, but will bend under heavy use in denser soils.  The red colored step-on planter is virtually indestructable…your feet will give out before this tool will. One drawback to these tools is the problem of soil sticking to the inside of the digger and not easily releasing.

All of these previously mentioned tools work fine if used where they are suited and you don’t have a whole lot of bulbs to plant.

Since we plant thousands of bulbs each year we have to bring out the heavy artillery:

Gas powered auger

The gas powered auger!! G-R-R-R-R!!!

Until we acquired this beast, we really did use those manual tools hanging on the garden shed door.

This machine is almost essential for  the number of bulbs we plant around here. 

It is great for planting into sod, as it cuts right through the leaves, roots and all.

Watch out if you hit a rock while drilling at full speed!  It can jar you so bad that you think your fillings will drop out!

This auger bit has drilled many thousands of holes and has hit gobs of rocks.

Worn out auger bit

Look how the shaft has been twisted backward, causing the metal to form an “S” shape.  This gives you some idea of the force involved when the bit strikes a rock.

 I have other bits that are so worn that the point is gone and will only dig a small “V” shaped hole.

Here is our set-up in action.

Planting bulbs

That’s me planting bulbs on a drizzly day.  Note the metal can on my belt.   This is where I carry the bulbs to be planted so I don’t have to bend down to pick up a bulb after every hole.

I drill a hole with two hands, then pull out the auger and grap a bulb from my holder and drop it into the hole.  Later I come back and rake the soil back over the holes.

This jobs goes about four times faster if you have a helper placing the bulbs into the hole as you drill.

It’s a big job, and exhausting, but the rewards in the spring make it all worth while.

Bob