Quick! Hit the dirt


You have just enough time to plant your spring garden!

Seems a paradox but the spring garden starts in the fall when spring-flowering daffodil, crocus, tulip and hyacinth bulbs must be planted.

According to Mark Cullen, one of Canada’s premier garden experts, “These bulbs are planted in fall and stay in the ground from year to year. They are so winter-hardy that literally every Canadian gardener can grow them.”

Here are Cullen’s top tips for planting bulbs:

– Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs when nighttime temperatures are consistently below 13 C.

– That said, bulbs will root best if planted six weeks prior to the ground freezing (with the exception of tulips, which can be planted as long as the ground remains thawed).

– “The general rule is to plant bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is high. Planting at this depth will help protect the bulbs against late winter thawing and refreezing.”

– Once bulbs are planted, water the site well.

– Protect your blooms. “We love tulips in the spring, but so do squirrels in the fall. Try laying chicken wire over the soil after planting and covering with bark mulch,” Cullen advises. The bulbs are safely protected and grow up through the holes in the mesh.

– Or plant bulbs that the critters don’t like: narcissus, daffodils and Fritillaria can keep those pesky squirrels at bay, who are stocking up for winter hibernation. Alternatively, we have had success by planting bulbs and then layering on top of the soil chopped daffodil bulbs bought inexpensively in bulk at the garden store

– squirrels can’t stand them and will leave your precious bulbs alone; chopping the bulbs ensures you don’t get a crop of unwanted daffs.

For more tips and tricks, check out Cullens’ new book, The Canadian Garden Primer: An Organic Approach.