Thursday, 03 March 2022 12:08

Gardening with Peter Bowden: Nature's Promise

By Peter Bowden | Home & Garden
Gardening with Peter Bowden: Nature's Promise

It’s amazing how the sight of fresh shoots from a clump of daffodils that we planted last fall can lift our spirits after a long cold winter. 

Planting bulbs in fall gives us a chance to thumb our noses at winter.  It is an act of faith.  By planting these bulbs, we are saying “I know that the next season will arrive a little brighter and better.”  You may be planting flower bulbs, but you are really sowing Mother Nature’s promise that the dark days of winter will eventually pass….and finally they have!

The first of the bulbs to flower are the tiny Snowdrops that bloom so early that they are often surrounded by the last of the melting snow. They are followed by other small varieties like crocus, scilla, chionodoxa, and muscari. Then, from mid April on, the show accelerates as the larger bulbs spring to life. Daffodils, tulips, and fragrant hyacinths all burst into flower in rapid succession. Finally the tall, stately spheres of the giant allium provide a grand finale. Every spring, I find myself wishing I’d planted even more bulbs the previous fall. 

Spring is when we need to take a couple of steps to insure that our bulbs grow stronger and larger so they will continue to flower in the future.  Think of them as rechargeable batteries. They don’t store electricity but “growth energy.” When you buy bulbs and plant them in fall, they’re all “charged up” for you. The trick is knowing how to “recharge the battery” after they flower in spring. The “growth energy” stored in the bulb is quickly depleted during the all-out effort to flower in spring. After the flowers have finished, cut them off including the stem. This prevents the bulb from wasting “growth energy” producing seeds. Think of the bulb’s leaves as solar collectors that change sunlight into “growth energy” that is sent to the bulb below for storage. Don’t cut off these solar collectors when you remove the spent blossoms.  Let them remain until they finish charging up your “bulb batteries.” This is also the time to feed your bulbs. I like to use Espoma Bulb-Tone or Flower-Tone plant food for this. Just poke holes around your larger bulbs and pour a little food into them or simply scratch the food into the soil around the smaller ones. Considering how much joy theses hardy bulbs provide, they are well worth the little effort they require.

Happy Spring!  Thanks for the read.

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