Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Make it Bloom

“I glanced out the window at the signs of spring. 
The sky was almost blue, the trees were almost 
budding, the sun was almost bright.”
― Millard Kaufman

 As a child some of my first memories are of the garden. Sitting in it watching my mom plant and
weed. I learned to read in a garden. I fell in love in a garden, with flowers and that sweet silence that
is peace.
So it is understandable that in the wintertime... I get itchy. Winter has it's own stark frozen beauty and
I love it well. But nothing is quite like spring. Once the wheel of the year turns I yearn for spring, the
green and the birds singly sweetly. Today was barren, frozen and bitingly windy so I turned my mind
to bulb forcing. Although you can't Force anything. You can however gently encourage bulbs (and 
branches) to bloom and grow out of season.

Popular bulbs to force indoors are:
  1. Paperwhite
  2. Tulips
  3. Irises
  4. Scilla
  5. Hyacinth
  6. Muscari
  7. Narcissus and
  8. Crocus 

Bulb forcing is actually really easy if you follow a few guidelines (these are not like pirate guidelines,
they are actually rules of thumb)
Clockwise: left to right
  1. Beautiful Vases
  2. Morning Light
  3. What NOT to do
  4. A great vase arrangement
  5. An alternative bulb arrangement
  6. Lovely vases to buy

The first rule of thumb is to pic a vase that tapers so it will hold the bulb above the water.
or a wide dish you can fill with aquarium gravel or river pebbles.
You do NOT want the bulbs to actually be in the water. just the very bottom should touch the water.
To much water and they will rot and never bloom. This you do not want.
Next put your bulbs in a cool dark place to simulate winter (50* is ideal). Usually for about six
weeks, this allows the root systems to develop.

After impatiently waiting SIX WHOLE FRICKEN WEEKS you can transfer what is hopefully a
healthy bulb with plenty of roots to a nice warm sunny place. Hopefully you kept that little piece of
plastic that came with your bulbs. Now is a great time to actually read it. Some flowers love indirect
sun, but lots of it. Some want south facing windows and bright warm light. So go read that paper!
You can also let the water level drop a tiny bit so the bulb isn't touch the water anymore.

Now go enjoy your spring beauties. If you missed this post and its spring time you can head down to
your local Lowes or Home Depot and buy the spring bulbs they have pre-planted. (bulbs are usually
planted outside in the fall)

After blooming, most indoor bulbs will be spent and won't flower again. But if you want to reward
their service instead of heartlessly tossing them onto the compost pile: Wait for the leaves to die back
naturally. Then plant in the garden and feed them an organic fertilizer. (Narcissus and daffodil bulbs
are more likely to respond, and bloom again in the garden, than hyacinths.)

 (Next, forcing branches!)
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