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Plant hardy bulbs now

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By Dennis Morgeson

You may have to have a back hoe or a tractor-ran posthole digger to do this, but it is time to plant fall bulbs. With the persistent drought and hard earth it seems almost light years away that spring weather and rains will return in a few months. If you want that beautiful spring garden with tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, etc. now is the time to start planting.

Spring flowering bulbs are what we call “hardy bulbs” which means they overwinter to bloom and rebloom the following spring. These bulbs need a chilling time spent in the ground to set bud inside the bulb for spring color.

When planting spring bulbs place them in a full sun or mostly sunny area 4-6 inches below the soil surface. After the holes are dug, put a teaspoon or two of bone meal in the hole before planting. Cover the bulbs with soil and don’t place mulch over them until the ground gets cold or we have several freezes. This will allow the soil to stay cold longer, reducing how quickly the bulbs will come up this spring or winter in some cases. If you mulch too early, the ground will stay warmer longer and can cause your bulbs to come up way too early!

Don’t fertilize hardy bulbs at planting time. The bulbs won’t get the full benefit of the nutrients and the nitrogen can cause them to grow too fleshy too early and make them more susceptible to frost and freeze injury. Instead, fertilize in the spring when they are through the ground several inches. General purpose fertilizers such as 10-10-10 are just fine for bulbs and should be applied at 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet. If you have any horticulture questions, call me at the office at 859-336-7741.

I want to remind everyone that the Farmers Market at the Depot in Springfield will be open Thursday evening from 4-7 p.m. as well during the Harvest Festival from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday. There will be lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as a bake sale and local processed chicken. Winter is closing in fast, so if you like local fresh produce, you better get it now or you will have to wait until next spring!