It’s bulb-planting time.
Just as the first frost kills the tender flowers and vegetables in the garden, virtually ending this growing season, you need something to provide happier thoughts. That something is the prospect of the profusion of spring blossoms next year – crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths …
With bulbs, more is better. You can plant them among your other plants, so you have double the blooms in the same space. As a bonus, when the bulbs go by and the foliage turns brown, the later-blooming plants hide the fading foliage of the bulb plants.
You can plant bulbs anytime before the ground freezes, but doing so this month gives the roots more time to develop. Planting later, on the other hand, lessens the chance that deer or squirrels will eat tasty tulip and crocus bulbs. Daffodils are poisonous, so they are safe.
Plant bulbs in loose soil, about 8 inches deep for big ones and 5 inches deep for small ones. The pointy end should face up. The bottom end is flatter and has a circle where the roots will sprout. Garden supply stores sell bulb planters, in which you remove a core of soil, place the bulb and return the soil, but they will really slow you down. It is faster and easier to use a trowel or shovel – especially if you are going for the big bang big group of flowers.
The traditional fertilizer for bulbs is bone meal, with a handful for each bulb, but the aroma can attract pests – everything from the neighbor cat to skunks. Truth is, bulbs store a lot of energy, and you don’t need fertilizer for the first year’s bloom.
After the bulbs bloom, top dress with a slow-release organic fertilizer, and you will be all set for future years.