Monday, March 2, 2009

Bulbs and Containers

I’ve been reading a lot lately about forcing bulbs. I’d meant to do it about two months ago because I had some bulbs I was not able to plant before winter pounced on Michigan. Bulb forcing seems like a complex ritual involving a delicate balance of temperature and light... and possibly sacrificing a goat. Right now, it seems to me like almost as much work as starting seeds inside. Yes, call me lazy, but I’m just not ready to take that challenge on at this point in my education.

So, I questioned some fellow gardeners this past weekend about what I should do with my bulbs stored away in the bottom drawer of our buffet. Their advice was “Well, if the bulbs are still good, throw them in a pot and put them in a sunny window.” Excellent. I can do that. In fact, I did so tonight. I potted tulips, irises and crocuses. It was amazing what a good mood potting a few bulbs  put me in.

My method? Can “potting with reckless abandon” be considered a method? After searching The Internets for instructions on planting bulbs in containers, I found everyone seems to have their own way of going about the same task. Finally, I combined some common pointers (there were fewer than you’d think) and started in on planting. 

I used handfuls of smaller rocks to line the bottom of my pots to help with drainage. One thing I read over and over is how bulbs do not like to sit in wet soil. Then I added at least two inches of potting soil for the roots. This measurement seemed to be the flexible one in case your pot is a bit larger than you need. Next came snuggling the bulbs together in the pot. Oh yes, no spacing, the little guys are nice and cozy. This is supposed to create a more stunning display. And really, if given the choice, who wouldn’t want to be more stunning? Then I topped the pot off with soil, leaving about an inch from the top of the soil line to the top of the pot. Throughout the process, I made sure to plant the bulbs at the depths suggested on their packaging.

Are the bulbs good? I think so. I found I was correct in keeping them in a dark place. However, the buffet in our dining room was too warm. The bulbs had started sprouting. They weren't waiting on the lazy wanna-be gardener that had stuck them in the drawer last fall and forgot about them until a few weeks ago. In the future, I’ll store bulbs in the basement. We don’t heat the room down there, so it’ll be a dark, cool environment for the them.

Tomorrow I’ll bring out the plant stands and set the pots in the front window on the south side of the house. We’ll see what happens. Hmm... could that be my gardening theme for this year?

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