There’s a bunch of really awesome things about bulbs. First, they are really easy to plant. Most bulbs only need to be 4 to 6 inches in the ground. A nice, sharp hand spade or trowel will work miracles for you. Or if you really wanna get into the bulb spirit, you can get a hand bulb planter or a long handled bulb planter. A simple thrust into the ground is all it takes.
Open, Close, Repeat
I use a hand trowel with a ruler on the blade. It shows me when I'm at the ideal depth. You don’t need to dig a hole like you do for most other plants. You can literally thrust the trowel into the soil, open it by pushing the soil to the side and then drop the bulb in. Make sure the bulb is pointing up once its in the hole. Then just close it back up, and you are done.
The ease of planting bulbs means you can get 50 to 100 in the ground in no time. And because you plant bulbs in the cooler part of the year, you might not even break a sweat. I like to think of my bulb planting time as a form of gardening yoga, and breath into the effort.
I’ve already planting about 70 alliums with another 50 parrot tulips, 50 ice cream tulips and about a 100 watercolor tulips to go. So far, I think I’ve spent around a hour and half planting all of them. It's fast and great way to clear your head.
There are natural enemies for your bulbs, and it pays to address them as you go. First, you have to defend against squirrels. There’s a few ways to protect your bounty. One of the easiest things to do is to understand the mind of a squirrel.
The squirrel mind is full of curiosity and always looking for an easy meal. If it sees the disturbed soil, it automatically believes some other creatures has hidden nuts or acorns below. It’ll dig out your bulbs, realize it's no meal at all and toss the bulb to the side. If you hide your newly planting bulbs under some leaves and other debris, you can skirt never peaking the hunger squirrel's interest in the first place.
Another way to stop them from digging your bulbs up is with deer repellent such as red pepper flakes. Sprinkle a little around the hole and an curious squirrel may discover the hard way to keep its paws off your tulips! I don't love doing that though. It is kinda mean to the squirrels, and I usually end up getting a taste of my own medicine by getting red flakes in my eyes. I opt to spray a little Liquid Fence on the ground after I’m finished planting for the day. It's a safe and easy option plus zero burning eyes.
The other option is that you can plant bulbs that squirrels just don’t seem interested in at all. Alliums, daffodils and hyacinths are three awesome options.
If you are planting tulips, and you live anywhere there are deer, you will need to make 100% sure they won’t want to eat the flowers once they bloom. As soon as spring comes, I suggest using one of two different eco-friendly sprays to protect them. Liquid Fence seems to work great in my neighborhood. I live about a 100 yards from the South Mountain Reservation where there’s hundreds of deer. They come out at night in hordes like zombies looking for anything to eat. So far, Liquid Fence has worked like a charm. Deer Off is said to work well too. I don’t normally use it, but I hear good things about it.
All the work you put into the bulbs this month is an investment for early spring beauty. A vast sea of colors and bloom in your yard just as the winter recedes is a welcomed sight, especially with the horrible, harsh winters we’ve been having for the last few years. Happy bulbing!